Trailstar Commits to Valley with $9.3M Expansion
SMITH TOWNSHIP, Ohio – When leadership at Trailstar International Inc. decided that it was time to expand operations, one of the big questions was where. Would it be at the company’s site here, where the company was founded as a truck service ship in the 1980s, or would the builder of dump trailers move its operations elsewhere in the country?
Other sites were certainly considered, but ultimately the decision was made to stay where it had always been, said President Tom Hahn at the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for the $9.3 million project.
“We traveled around a little bit to see things and it just wasn’t the same feeling as when we’re home. We believe in Ohio and in the Mahoning Valley. We want to keep it growing. It weighed on us to stay here,” Hahn said. “There are a lot of great people here and the economy could really use it right now. By keeping our 49 jobs and adding another 50 over the next year, we’re excited about what we can do.”
The effort to keep Trailstar in Smith Township, on the western edge of Mahoning County just a few miles outside Alliance, stretched beyond the company itself, said Lauren Johnson, business development manager for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. Talks began about 2 1/2 years ago, she said, and involved an array of agencies, from the state and local levels.
“A lot of those centered on whether there was a business case for this company to expand here. The work over that 2 1/2 years was building the case that they could find the workforce here and that we could make improvements to the road that were required,” Johnson said.
Among the economic development partners were Ohio Department of Transportation, TeamNEO, JobsOhio, Western Reserve Port Authority and the offices of the Mahoning County commissioners and Mahoning County engineer.
When completed, the new 85,000-square-foot building will house manufacturing space for the company’s aluminum trailers, as well as office space and a showroom. The existing 10,000-square-foot building will be converted into a service shop – returning some of the company’s work to its roots – and assembly for steel trailers.
“We’re always looking at different lines we can get into that tie into construction business,” Hahn said. “You get a lot of good ideas just from talking to people, listening and communicating.”
Site preparation is underway, reported Tucker Cope, president of C. Tucker Cope & Associates, the general contractor. Work on the foundation should start in about 30 days, weather permitting, and steel will start going up within 60 days.
“We’ll be out of the ground by mid-summer and work through the fall to be ready by spring 2020,” he said.
C. Tucker Cope has built several local projects for companies in the aluminum industry, both those working in extrusion and manufacturing, which led to the work with Trailstar. Throughout the development process, Cope explained, the focus was on how the building could accommodate the manufacturer’s growth.
“Our biggest thing is product flow. Form has to follow function. To do that, we determine the base size of the building, the size of cranes and how these products will come through it,” Cope said. “Once we figure that out, we start working on the form of the building and make that fit what the product needs to be.”
And with the demand for its products that Trailstar has enjoyed in recent years, there was no question that such an expansion was necessary, Hahn said.
“We pride ourselves on the product we build. In dealing with our customers and dealer network, as we’re growing back our company, pride puts a lot into it,” he said. “In doing so, we had to enlarge what he had to take care of our employees and build a better product.”
Pictured: Trailstar International broke ground on its 85,000-square-foot expansion Wednesday. The addition will allow the company to double its workforce, said President Tom Hahn (white shirt).
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.