In 1960, Don and Carol Wahlin began what has become their sixty year journey as the founders of Stoughton Trailers.
Shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1960 with a degree in Engineering, Don began working as an engineer for Moe, Parley and Moe Corporation (MPM), formerly Stoughton Cab & Body. Thinking that his job in Stoughton would be temporary, Don commuted from Madison to Stoughton while Carol worked as a legal secretary for a law firm in Madison. Don’s thoughts on temporary employment were well founded, as within six months MPM would close their doors and file for bankruptcy.
Having had the opportunity to become familiar with the business, Don felt it could be profit-able and with the help of family and friends, Don and Carol were able to buy the business out of bankruptcy in 1961 and renamed the company Stoughton Truck Body.
In 1962, Don and Carol moved to Stoughton and continued to struggle to make the new business a success. In addition to working for the company, Carol focused on raising their growing family, while Don, to help make ends meet, flew fighter jets for the Air National Guard out of Truax Field in Madison.
In 1965, the company was renamed Stoughton Body, Inc. In addition to the truck body production in the original MPM facilities, semitrailer production began in a city owned facility on Academy Street, now referred to as Plant 1. That building is now home to the company’s corporate offices and engineering test facility.
After a disastrous and tragic fire in 1967 burned the old MPM plant to the ground, the company bought the Academy Street plant from the city, added on to it, and continued to grow.
In 1973, Plant 2 (West Plant) was built for the production of over the road vans and flatbed trailers. For the past 20 years production at the 42,000 square foot facility has been absent, as it had been primarily used as a storage facility. Currently, the building is being leased out to another Stoughton manufacturing company.
For the third time in six years, Stoughton Trailers found the need to add yet another plant with the building of Plant 3 in 1981.
Running north from the back side of Plant 1, Plant 3 is a 70,000 square foot facility initially used for the manufacture of Flatbed Trailers and Chassis at a rate of about 1,000 units per year. Prior to the building of Plant 5, sheet metal operations were also housed in that building. Today, Plant 3 is home to the Grain Hauler line.
The company’s main assembly plant, Plant 6 (located at Veterans Road and Academy Street), was built in 1985. With another expansion soon to follow in 1987, Plant 6 was doubled in size to 365,000 square feet and expanded from two to four lines and built a wide variety of van trailers and intermodal containers, many to unique customer specifications. This plant held the capacity to build almost 20,000 units per year. In addition to manufacturing operations, the Human Resources and Quality Departments and the company’s Occupational Health facility are located in the facility.
In 1993, Plant #5 was built. This 300,000 square foot facility is devoted to steel fabrication, welding, and painting. Our fabrication capabilities are unique in the trailer industry and the addition of this facility enables the company to provide our customers custom-designed features with high levels of quality on tightly controlled delivery schedules.
Plant 7 (Evansville) was added in 1993. This original 240,000 square foot facility was expanded to 300,000 square feet in 1998 and allowed for the production of upward of 10,000 chassis and intermodal containers until 2007 when the plant closed. It was with great pleasure that the company announced the reopening of the Evansville plant in March 2011 and the return of Domestic Intermodal Container production. Plant 4 in Brodhead (formerly Stoughton Composites, LLC) began in 1994 as a joint venture with Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). It was folded into Stoughton Trailers, Inc. in 1999. With 250,000 square feet of space, this facility is set up to produce 10,000 units per year.
In addition to manufacturing operations, Stoughton Trailers, LLC. also operates a service parts distribution network and an independent over the road trucking company.
Stoughton Trailers has come a long way since its founding in 1961 and today Stoughton Trailers can claim to be one of the largest trailer manufacturers in North America. With facilities spanning over one million square feet of manufacturing space spread out over 80 acres of property in three southern Wisconsin communities, it’s estimated that over 150,000 Stoughton trailers produced at these plants travel the highways of the United States and Canada every day.