By Jack Roberts
While the flatbed market looks strong early in 2018, recent moves by the Trump administration could drive prices up and affect supply later in the year. Photo: East Manufacturing
It’s likely that the first-ever wagon invented by humans was a flatbed design. We’ll never know for sure, of course, but it stands to reason: A flatbed trailer is the very model of simplicity, flexibility and efficiency. And modern flatbeds today are stunning examples of modern design: No frills, functional, and tough.
But the true wonder in flatbeds has to be the delta between how incredibly light modern designs are and the payloads they haul. You’ll find heavy-duty flatbed trailers hauling everything from construction and mining machines that take up every inch of available deck space on the unit — and then some — down to steel coils that concentrate an enormous amount of weight into a very small area of the trailer. The challenge to design trailers with absolute minimal tare weight with the ability to haul such a wide array of loads under grueling conditions is daunting. But, doing so is a must, for weight-focused flatbed haulers nationwide.
A look at the flatbed market
And the demand for flatbeds is strong. Dave de Poincy, president of East Manufacturing, says his company is looking for a flatbed market of around 28,000 units this year. “Currently,” he says, “East has a record backlog, and we’ve experienced five record months of sales orders in a row. All the projections we’re hearing from our fleet customers are positive and they’re a good spring with regard to flatbed freight and high demand. So we are looking for these trends to generate both higher profits for fleets and nice orders for flatbed trailer suppliers.”
However, on the day Craig Bennett, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Utility Trailers, spoke to