Trail King remains industry heavy hitter
By D.Ann Shiffler03 December 2020
Chances are very high you have been behind a Trail King trailer at some point in your driving history. The company produces an array of trailers for such industries as agriculture, materials hauling, open deck construction and tagalong. And it produces some of the most revered heavy haul trailers in the world.
At ConExpo 2020 Trail King debuted the F3710 perimeter expanding frame trailer with a TK100 jeep and hydraulic front steerable dolly.
Trail King Industries got its start in 1974 as Western Ag Sales. Gordon and Shirley Thomsen started the company from their home in Mitchell, SD. They were primarily a distributor and sales representative for manufacturers of agricultural equipment.
Four years later, the Thomsen’s purchased Mitchell, SD-based Plains Industries, which produced a line of trailers called Trail King. The product range was quickly expanded to include trailers with enhanced features such as hydraulic tails and detachable goosenecks.
“The most notable feature was Trail King’s development of what many at the time considered the best hydraulic detachable gooseneck in the industry, a system that made hooking up and unhooking a simple, one-person 60-second connection,” according to the company.
By the end of the 1970s, emphasis was shifted from agricultural equipment to focus exclusively on producing Trail King trailers. In 1982, Trail King joined the SC&RA, and in 1983, the company’s name was changed to Trail King Industries. The Thomsen’s son Jerry, who had worked for the company his parents started since he was a teenager, ran the company for more than 20 years. He was active in SC&RA, serving as president and chairman of the Association from 2005 to 2007.
Trail King’s product line expanded exponentially and a new 67,500-square foot manufacturing facility was opened in 1987. By 1995 the plant was expanded twice. Today, the state-of-the-art facility encompasses 295,000 square feet and employs more than 450 workers.
Trail King’s reach was extended with the acquisition of Ti-Brook and Red River Manufacturing, expanding the product line into dump trucks serving construction, waste and agricultural markets.
In 2010, Trail King was acquired by CC Industries. In 2015, Trail King acquired Dakota Trailer Manufacturing further expanding into the agricultural sector.
But with all its growth and expansion, Trail King’s core market has been specialized transportation. Its heavy haul trailers are among the most well known in North America. Trail King produces dual lane transporters, steerable dollies, perimeter expanding frame trailers, Schnable systems, multi-axle trailers, jeeps, boosters and wind tower blade haulers.
Trail King’s revolutionary hydraulic detachable gooseneck made hooking up and unhooking a one-person, 60-second connection.
In 2011 Gordon Thomsen was named the 11th recipient of the SC&RA’s Golden Achievement Award. A consummate salesman, he was known for saying “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” Thomsen passed away in 2016.
In 2019, Trail King made the leap to take its product line global by partnering with with Goldhofer. The two companies are cross marketing their products.