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The increase in demand for smaller LQ trailers could offset the decrease in demand for the larger LQ trailers.

Brahm said the attractiveness of the LQ trailers is rooted in the idea that they're basically two units in one.

As boomers age, the demand for smaller LQ trailers will increase, as children leave home and the number of horses requiring transportation in each trailer decreases.

However, he said, the LQ market probably will remain unchanged during the next three years.

So the cost of manufacturing is cheaper from a raw-material standpoint.” On the other hand, Brahm said CM Trailers' October 2007 merger with Big Tex Trailers — which also included CM's affiliate, S&H Trailers — made a lot of sense.

“That is a very good diversification because Big Tex does not participate in the horse trailer market,” he said.

Universal already owned the Exiss, Sooner, and Haulmark (cargo trailer) brands when Featherlite was acquired. “A number of people said Sooner made good trailers, and now when they look at an Exiss, Sooner, or Featherlite trailer, it's very hard to distinguish between them. It's one thing if you only had one dealer in one area, but they all just kind of slammed on top of each other.

“The brands didn't really play off each other because they required that everybody keep their own dealers, which is very strange because you have three separate brands. Featherlite at least was diversified, but with Exiss and Sooner, their products pretty much overlapped.

That was one of the surprising results uncovered by Jeremy Brahm in his report, “Horse Trailer Manufacturing in North America,” for Specialty Vehicles.net, a boutique consultancy and business publications firm in the United States that specializes in providing proprietary business analysis and databases to the medium/heavy vehicular, body, engine, equipment, trailer, and component manufacturing industries worldwide.

Most people said, ‘You have these brands and now they look the same. ’ ” “It shows that, in my opinion, if people are going to merge companies, they really have to think it out better. It's a waste of time and effort because you really didn't expand anywhere. Whereas if you had bought something in the Southeast or Northwest or Northeast, you would have said, ‘I can cover a couple of areas.’ Yes, they did have the ability to consolidate manufacturing costs and purchase steel at a cheaper price.

One manufacturer said that Universal was actually able to get a dime per pound of steel ordered cheaper.

Brahm said that based on his research and interviews conducted at trade shows, the merger of Exiss/Sooner and Featherlite has not been well-received.

Featherlite was purchased by Universal Trailer Corp in October 2006.

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