A lot has changed since we first started our business back in 1994. What started as a simple family-owned farm supply store has evolved into one of the top horse trailer manufacturers in the nation. We’re very different from the typical horse trailer company. We can offer our customers a unique sales experience where they get a custom trailer built to fit their exact wishes.
This results in more value, more safety, and more happiness. Because that’s exactly why we own and love horses, right? Horses bring us happiness!
Here is our story straight from owner Brad Health. Enjoy…
How did Double D Trailers get its start?
Our company incorporated back in September of 1994 with three equal partners: Donald (my dad), Douglas (my uncle) and myself. Later, my brother Bartley joined us. At the time, I was a full-time student at UNC Chapel Hill. I actually “quit” college to start this family business.
My dad and uncle were in the farming business together and their name was “Double D Farms.” So, we initially started as a farm supply retail store. We sold things like horse feed, horse tack, vaccines, and other farm items.
We eventually added horse trailers to our product line along with tractors, hay balers, and most anything you can think of in the farming world.
And what were these very first Double D trailers like?
Well, we started by selling other brands of horse trailers, but we quickly realized nobody really ever wanted what we had on the lot. Customers always wanted to order a different color or a trailer with different features than what we had in stock.
We would order these trailers for our customers, but there were huge wait times from manufacturers and ridiculous freight costs for shipping. Most of the trailers we were selling were manufactured out West and had to be shipped to our North Carolina location.
So, we thought we could build our own trailers and provide customers a better level of product and service. More importantly, we could custom build our own trailers to meet their specs.
When we pitched this idea to First Citizens bank, they looked at us like we were crazy. We told the bank we wanted to build horse trailers in Pink Hill, NC. Ultimately, they gave us a loan for a new factory, which we built and furnished with all new equipment.
Our first Double D Trailer was built in 1997!
The Double D Trailer’s design has changed a lot over the years. What were some of the early safety concerns you encountered?
From 1997 through 2007, we only built steel frame trailers with galvaneal skin. We were very successful with these. They are super safe due to the strong steel frame. Plus, they are sturdy and provide a great value to the customer. These trailers came in both slant load and straight load layouts.
In 1998, we had a customer who was injured while loading her horse onto one of our trailers. It was a slant load and had a conventional fixed or collapsible rear tack. Her horses were great loaders, so the narrow entry way door beside the rear tack was normally not a problem. In fact, this layout is still very common today among many modern manufacturers.
After loading her horse, our customer walked around the outside of the trailer and stuck her arm through the stock side slat to tie her horse. The horse reared up, breaking her arm in the process. It was a horrific injury!
Of course, this wasn’t our fault, so we didn’t get sued. But the customer came to us and said, “You need to figure out how to get the <bleep, bleep, bleep> saddle compartment out of the way. It’s dangerous!”
So, we went to the drawing board and the “Tack-around” – an early version of the SafeTack – was born. Rather than a stationary rear tack compartment, this slant load trailer has a fully enclosed compartment that swings out like a second door. It leaves the entire back of the trailer open for loading and unloading.
Fantastic! I know the SafeTack is one of your most popular features. What about the other unique Double D Trailers features? When were they added?
Well, as I said, we were building steel frame / galvaneal skin trailers from 1997 through 2007. These trailers provided great value and safety, but they were lacking some of the safety features we see today. For example, they didn’t have an insulated roof to help control the interior temperature for hauling comfort.
Not to mention, we needed a frame that wouldn’t rust!
In 2008, we began working on new product development and by 2009 we moved to a larger factory. We had outgrown our old facility. We went from a 6,000 square foot to a 52,000 square foot building.
Also in 2009, we launched our light weight and non-rusting Z-Frame Technology in place of the old steel frame trailers. We also rebranded the “Tack-Around” to the SafeTack and developed a new SafeKick wall system. The SafeBump roof, a leak-proof single piece fiber composite roof, was added to help control the trailer’s interior temperature. Finally, this was the year we started using synthetic Rumber flooring a lot more.
It sounds like that was a big year for the company. What about the reverse load trailers? This trailer layout is much newer to the horse world.
Yes, the reverse load has been more recent.
In 2013, we had a customer from Texas reach out to us. She loved the SafeTack, but wanted a reverse load trailer. I said, “Reverse who?”
I did some research and learned how reverse load trailers have been around for a long time. But ALL of the designs had major safety flaws for the horse and/or the handler.
You talked about many new safety features, but has the basic manufacturing process changed much over the years?
Oh my gosh… tremendously! We used to build a “welded” product, which would rust in the seams over time. Plus, the roof would leak.
Since then, a great deal has changed in the industry. Modern sealant, paints, compounds, and primers are much better than they were years ago. And now we can use technologies like 3M VHB (like 3M tape) to bond materials without welding or mechanical rivets.
So now, we build an “assembled” product similar to how they do in automobile manufacturing. Plus, there are a host of other innovations we’ve improved.
Double D Trailers delivers custom horse trailers to customers all across the United States and even across the globe. Where are these trailers built?
Our current factory is in Wisconsin. Once we started the new product line and developed a non-rusting chassis, clients from all over the US began reaching out to us. They liked how our new chassis was stronger and safer than aluminum.
We realized that trying to distribute from our original base in North Carolina was going to be a logistical nightmare. So, we moved the entire factory to Wisconsin. It’s more centrally located to service the West coast, East coast, and Canada. All of our trailers have been built in Wisconsin since January of 2012.
Through it all, what has been the most rewarding aspect of operating Double D Trailers?
Selling “happiness and fun!”
Folks are passion about their horses. And, I take great pleasure in designing trailers that are fun, yet safe.
And what about the biggest challenges?
It can be a challenge to educate folks on safety. Newer, smarter and more innovative technologies are being developed. People aren’t familiar with these features, so it takes some time to educate them on their value.
Finally, what do you see on the horizon for Double D Trailers? Anything new in the pipeline?
Actually, we’re experimenting with a man-less trailer lot operated by a remove human operator and camera systems! I can share more on that in the coming months.
Plus, we are developing a one horse bumper pull trailer with living quarters. It’s very safe, easy to tow, and perfect for a one-horse family.
I suppose with “custom built” trailers, every new trailer could be something really original and exciting.