J.C. Trailers and Equipment
John Csiki founded J.C. Trailers and Equipment (JCT) in 1965 out of a small metal shop in Ontario. “We started off generally as a welding and repair business,” he recounts. “In 1967, a man came to us asking if we could build him a trailer and I said we could. That was our first one and we started growing from there. We added dealers, working for our company and selling our trailers. Through that growth, we were able to go bigger, making larger and more complex trailers. Now we can build up to a 100-ton capacity.”
The business began a full line of trailer manufacturing in 1970. Today, Csiki employs approximately 50 people working out of a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Keswick, Ontario. Most customers are within the province; however, Csiki and his team sell a large number of trailers to buyers in Quebec and Nova Scotia, as well. In recent years, the business has established an international market for these customized pieces of equipment. JCT has sent trailers to Saudi Arabia, Cuba and several African countries.
JCT has refined the process over the years to make ordering and delivery easier on customers. “We do all of the design and engineering in-house,” Csiki explains. “We have a standard line that we manufacture; however, all of our projects include customization. We work with our customers to determine their requirements. Then we design the project and quote them a price. We do everything from the ground up here, building safe, durable equipment that is legal to take down the highway.”
As far as the manufacturing goes, nearly everything is performed in-house. “90 percent of a trailer is built right here in the plant,” Csiki notes. “We make the I-beams for the trailers that are specially heat treated in our facilities. We do all of the fabricating. We buy certain components such as tires, axels and suspensions. The rest comes together here.”
Csiki’s business is challenging and rewarding. “We enjoy designing different types of heavy trailers,” he explains. “Our customers come in with requests for a certain kind of equipment they need to move and we can build it. There is not much we can’t do and we haven’t said no yet.”
The business recently built trailers to haul the components of wind turbines for a renewable energy initiative in the region. Csiki and his team also build prototypes for clients looking to start a line of new products.
Keep on truckin’
Recent unrest in the global economy has brought about a few tough years for businesses everywhere. Csiki says his team faced new challenges, but managed to get through the worst of the recession without making any layoffs.
“We didn’t have any major issues,” he explains. “We seem to always have business because we have a global reach. When business is slow in one place, it tends to pick up somewhere else, so we have been busy. We have seen real improvements over the last couple of years.”
It also helps that Csiki tightly manages expenses and keeps overhead as low as possible without compromising quality or safety. “We don’t need too many machines here,” he elaborates. “We have equipment that we purchased 10 or 15 years ago that is still running like new. We don’t have the machinery turnover that you see in other industries. Once we buy equipment, it lasts us a long time. We upgrade when necessary, but often we find we just don’t have to.”
JCT is coming up on 50 years in business. While Csiki and his team are keen on taking on new opportunities, he says he has no major plans for expansion. “We don’t have anything big planned for the coming years,” Csiki notes. “You never know, someone might want something special. As far as our footprint, we’ll stay more or less the same.”
Keeping a manageable size is important to Csiki, who recalls work for clients in Western Canada a few years back. The team built several trailers for clients involved in the oil industry. As the region blew up with demand, however, the business was not large enough to balance work at home with new opportunities elsewhere.
“We have enough work here,” says Csiki. “You cannot supply everybody unless you grow and grow, which just isn’t sustainable. There’s no sense in growing too fast. We want to stay at a certain size. It makes it a lot easier for us to control the quality and safety of our products.” By staying relatively small, J.C. Trailers and Equipment continues to provide leading custom trailer services to regional and international customers.