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Net U.S. trailer orders in June rose to 25,444, ACT Research reported July 22. It was an increase of about 10,000 orders compared with the preliminary number issued only days before.
“Some 2023 order boards have opened, those efforts are quickly moving from staged or planned orders to booked business,” Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research at ACT, said in the release for net orders.
At the time the preliminary order volume of 15,300 was released, four leading trailer makers told Transport Topics they had not opened their 2023 order boards. Three then confirmed that remained the case after the revised number was released, and the fourth one did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
When asked if it had opened its 2023 order board, a spokesman for a fifth trailer maker, publicly traded Wabash, told TT, “I’m sure you can appreciate that we can’t selectively comment on potentially material information.” Wabash has scheduled an earnings call for July 27.
A year earlier orders were 10,952. This June’s net total was lower than the first three months of the year, higher than orders in April and a boost of 31% compared with May.
“At the end of May 2022 total trailer industry backlog-to-build sat at 7.4 months, or extending past year’s end,” said McNealy.
“Build has trended upward year-over-year for the last 15 months, as supply chain constraints have eased somewhat, and this trend is expected to continue as 2022 progresses,” she said.
FTR pegged June revised orders at about 24,600 after a preliminary number of 14,400.
Stoughton Trailer has not opened up for 2023 orders. “This is still a struggle for many components and materials from week to week,” said David Giesen, vice president of sales at Stoughton. And its backlogs are full for as far Stoughton is “comfortable and able to predict,” said Giesen.
At Great Dane, planning for 2023 slots is underway involving distribution partners and customers.
“Everyone is carefully making commitments based on continued supply chain and labor challenges,” said Chris Hammond, executive vice president of sales at Great Dane.
Utility has not opened up for 2023 either, amid ongoing supply chain and labor restraints that limit its current capacity, said Craig Bennett, senior vice president at Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. “The supply chain remains as tight as a band string,”
“Our key suppliers are all feeling the strain of trying to keep up with demand, which remains strong. Some orders that were planned for 2022 will move into 2023 production, again this year,” Bennett said.
Meanwhile, Q4 2022 orders are mostly all placed, he said, with just a few stragglers yet to come in.
Sean Kenney, chief sales officer at Hyundai Translead, said the company is looking at the “fragile” supply chain as it calculates when to open up for 2023, “with some of the main components being more [fragile] as of late.”
Hammond noted the supply chain is little changed from a few months ago — unpredictable. “It’s a game of whack a mole. Solve a problem here and a new surprise occurs over there.”
What’s the best business news they each could share?
Hammond said it was that trucker profitability is very strong this year and will continue to be strong next year despite potential drops in GDP. “Our customers have pent-up demand that may buoy the trailer industry some if the economy enters recession.”
Giesen agreed “demand remains very strong” through next year.
Kenney also agreed, and said customers continue to be “positive about their needs” for 2023.
Could Q4 bring record orders?
Kenney said it’s a possibility but it depends on when everyone decides to open. “If all open at once this could certainly occur.”
Giesen did not think Q4 would be a record because of reduced availability of components and materials, which hurt capacity, but “it will still be a very good volume.”
The all-time high for monthly trailer orders was 57,790 in September 2018.
In related news, Wabash unveiled a new logo reflecting the name it adopted in February to unify all its products. Previously it was known as Wabash National.
Wabash’s entire line of van trailers, platform trailers, tank trailers, truck bodies, process systems, and parts and services are also scheduled to be rebranded with the new Wabash logo by the end of the year, the company noted.
“Our family of brands is stronger together and it’s exciting to see this vision brought to life on our trailers today,” said CEO Brent Yeagy in a release.
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