Feature, V1I5

Creating New Options

Pine Hill Trailer sales has been located along U.S. Route 30 since 2011.
Pine Hill Trailer sales has been located along U.S. Route 30 since 2011.

Back in 2000, Pine Hill Trailers was a home-based business run by founder Dan Petersheim and one employee who helped build the earliest products, a skid-steer trailer and dump trailer. But after a local shed hauler asked Petersheim to do some service work on his trailers, a new direction into shed trailers was born.

After two years of balancing service work and designs for new trailers, the decision was simple: the company branched out to a 15,000-square-foot shop in Gordonville, Pennsylvania, and growth began in earnest.

Highly custom shed trailers remain a top-selling option across the company’s varied product line. Today Pine Hill Trailers has 45 employees across three locations and a reputation for creating quality products that meet a user’s specific needs.

A Company’s Evolution

“The evolution of the Pine Hill shed trailer sometimes even amazes me,” Petersheim admits.

In the early days, the home-based entrepreneur was driven by the need to ensure a steady flow of work.

“I had this fear that there would not be enough work to keep us busy. Cash flow was a big challenge, so I started doing a lot of service and repair work as that helped the cash flow. I started out by taking every job in as it came up,” he says.

Soon, however, there was more work than he could handle.

“At times you worked all day and into the night to get everybody back on the road as needed. And that is still our philosophy today,” he adds.

The business owner drew on experience from other industries— including a decade in metal working, three years in a farm repair shop, and seven years in manufacturing—as guidance for growing his own business.

“There are numerous books out there that you can read and learn a lot from, but at the end of the day, it still takes a lot of elbow grease and nose-to-the-grindstone willpower to get the job done,” he says.

In addition to sheer willpower, Petersheim was able to successfully grow his business by finding a niche in need. Even today, although the company builds other trailers, it is Pine Hill’s custom shed trailers that remain its most popular product line.

“It was my vision and goal to provide companies and drivers with options that would greatly increase [shed builders’] bottom lines,” he says. “Once I realized how well our product was being accepted, it became an easy decision to go all-out in meeting the demand head-on.”

All-out aptly describes the company’s growth. By 2011, Pine Hill Trailers had moved into what remains its current location, two buildings totaling 23,000 square feet on 4.5 acres along busy U.S. Route 30. These buildings house five divisions: Shed Trailer Manufacturing, Custom Fabrication, New and Used Trailer Sales, Trailer Service, and a Trailer Parts Department. In 2014, the company opened its Shed Trailer Service Department, where dedicated service techs stand by to service shed-hauling trailers at any time, and in August 2015 Pine Hill opened up a new, separate 28,000-square-foot manufacturing facility dedicated to custom shed trailer production.

A Focus on Options

What largely sets Pine Hill’s products apart from competitors is the sheer number of options that can be applied to its standard trailer bodies.

“We have found that cookie-cutter shed trailers—no matter what their size— just can’t satisfy our customers,” Petersheim says.

Instead, his company puts the emphasis on building each trailer for the specific need of a particular customer.

As Petersheim explains, “All of our shed trailer customers have different needs based on how they plan to use a particular trailer. One might think that it’s as simple as just changing the length of the trailer. The truth, however, is that the list of different requirements and options for shed trailers is incredibly long. Drivers’ requests can run the full gamut: They can go from a long-distance hauler who is trying to get as many units on one load as possible to a local dealer making one delivery at a time—and of course there are others who have needs for everything in between.”

To ease the customization process somewhat, Pine Hill offers four basic models of shed trailer, each of which provides the basis for wide-ranging customization. The company’s latest addition is the Heavy Hauler shed trailer, a heavy-duty trailer with a GVWR rating of 45,000 pounds and the ability to tilt a 60-foot building. Engineered designs are also underway for a heavy hauler drop deck freight/shed trailer with an aluminum body.

The company is constantly looking to provide product improvements, and Petersheim says it’s this focus that keeps customers coming back for more.

“We’ve always been quality minded, but as time goes on, one finds that there is always room for improvement,” he says. “I think that’s one big reason our customers stay with us year after year. They always know that they are getting the very best updated product from Pine Hill because we are always striving to improve.”

Spreading the Word

Today customers can find Pine Hill products at two retail/service locations in Pennsylvania. All of their shed trailers are sold exclusively through Pine Hill, either at these retail locations or online.

“We feel that this allows us to sell a higher-quality unit at a lower price than we could if we were to go through dealerships. In the long run that can mean huge savings to our customer base, most of which are family-owned businesses,” Petersheim says.

He finds that much of the company’s business comes from word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers. Customers tell Petersheim that they come back due to the attention the company places on quality control, the shop’s ability to custom design and manufacture just for them, the high resale values on preowned trailers, and the ease and enjoyment of working with Pine Hill’s sales and service staff.

“There are always challenges with growth but the key to growth is never taking your eye off the fact of why customers want to buy from you,” Petersheim shares. “Quality of product, dependable and reliable service, and being able to custom design and manufacture exactly what the customer is looking for is extremely important.”

Future Improvements

Although the company may offer more products, and use more room, than it did in 2000, Petersheim says the company’s simple manufacturing philosophy remains unchanged: “We want to continuously make improvements that will provide greater opportunities for our customers to increase profits.”

Making improvements depends in part on watching industry trends. Right now the company has its eye on how the rent-to-own shed industry is changing the needs of individual delivery companies.

“At Pine Hill trailers we feel that we totally understand these new challenges that drivers are facing,” Petersheim says, adding that the company has come up with “some very creative solutions to these new problems.”

At the core of these and other solutions is a value placed on building trailers that are dependable and reliable.

“Providing custom options that meet the requirements of an individual need, at affordable prices, means that delivery companies can finally realize greater profitability,” Petersheim adds. “And after all, isn’t that what every delivery company wants?”


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