By Eric Peterson | Jul 13, 2020
Brigham City, Utah
Automated pallet delivery trailers
Owner Randy Marble has automated pallet delivery with a rapid payback for the less-than-truckload market.
After inventing the Haulit to use at his own sod farm, Marble set his sights on manufacturing the user-friendly delivery trailer to 12 distinct industries.
"At the time, I was owner of Chanshare sod farm in Tremonton, Utah, the largest turf supplier in the state of Utah," says Marble. After his friend pointed out a need for "a way to deliver one pallet of turf to someone's yard without using a big semi and forklift," the company developed the Haulit for internal use.
"We started with the one-pallet version in 2013," says Marble. "That grew to a two-pallet model over the next year."
The utility of the product led to the current two-, three-, and four-pallet Haulit, with hydraulic lifts, push-off mechanisms, and a live floor. The trailers can handle loads as large as 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.
Now structured as two companies -- the marketing company and owner of the Haulit trademark is Green Valley of Utah and the manufacturing company is Green Valley Manufacturing -- Haulit occupies the 13,000-square-foot former home of Diamondback Manufacturing, which it acquired in 2017. "They were building trailers at the time and helped with the research and development process," says Marble. "They were in the mode to sell at the time, so we bought them."
Featuring overhead cranes, a powder-coating facility, and "five acres of asphalt," the plant in Payson continues to make trailers for several brands as well as Haulit units for a growing customer base."We do all of our welding and manufacturing in-house," says Marble. "We do manufacture custom trailers -- recreational trailers and industrial trailers -- for other companies. We have two other companies we manufacture for as well as Haulit."
The trailers have won a fast following across the country. "Now we're in over 26 states coast to coast and Hawaii, and it's growing rapidly," says Marble. "We currently have 140 trailers [in operation] nationwide."
"We've defined 12 different market segments that are delivering palleted, bundled, or bulk materials to job sites. Our goal was to have a delivery system that did not require a CDL driver that could deliver two, three, or four pallets."
Beyond turf, Haulit users include lumberyards, masons, farmers, landscapers, and construction companies. "The 30-second commercial is: It's a tilt-back, tow-behind trailer that has a live-floor deck. You can unload without a forklift or the need for a CDL or hand labor," says Marble.
Another aspect of the business is fostering a networks of Haulits to market excess capacity. "We have our own LTL [less-than-truckload] business as well, where we do deliveries with a truck in Utah," explains Jared Haveron, sales manager for Haulit. "We work with our customers and offer them the ability to make deliveries during their down times."
A Haulit trailer starts at $15,900 retail, a price that includes delivery in the continental U.S. The payback often comes in less than six months. Customers can enjoy 30 percent lower one-time and recurring costs associated with small pallet deliveries by reducing labor and vehicle costs.
Marble points to an impressive data point: The company has a repeat customer rate of 43 percent. "IFA started out with one, then they went to two, now they're up to eight. A nursery here in Utah started with one, now they have two, and just told us this week they have on their docket to purchase another four come November. We have a tree farm that started out with one, now they have four. . . . It's very typical. This is an education sale because there's nothing else on the market. Our patent is firm, but it's pending. We're the only trailer out there that can do what we're doing."
Challenges: "Meeting the demand," says Marble. "Being able to capitalize on the demand is a challenge."
The Payson plant can currently make about two Haulits a week, but he says that weekly output could grow to about 20 at the current facility with investments in both workforce and equipment.
A long sales cycle is another hurdle. "It's more a piece of equipment than just a trailer," notes Haveron. "We've had to educate our customers. Some products take one or two touches, and you're up to six touches with [many Haulit] customers."
Opportunities: Marble sees increasing demand for deliveries nationwide, in part catalyzed by COVID-19. Sod will remain a tentpole industry, but construction, government, and college campuses hold potential. "Most of the goods that are delivered to a university go to a purchasing office, and then they have to get their palletized goods out around the campus," says Marble.
The company's LTL operation is growing in Utah, and Marble says he sees a path to national expansion. "We're proving out the model here in Utah," he says. "We've formalized the business model this spring."
He adds, "At some point, it's going to explode. People are going to get it. The Haulit name is going to be out there."
Needs: "We need the ability to tell our story to more people," says Marble. "We've been to all sorts of trade shows. That's expensive and that's not available to us now."
New facilities are another coming need. "We decided rather than manufacturing continually out of Utah, we'll be looking for manufacturing capacities in Texas, Indiana, and then South Carolina," says Marble. "We're determining which [model] is going to serve us and our strategic partners the best."