Donahue Manufacturing LLC, a small, privately owned business based in Durham, Kansas has been building implement, machinery, livestock, utility, flatbed and grain trailers since local entrepreneur Jim Donahue built his first implement carrier in 1962, making it the company's founding product.
Over the years, Donahue added additional trailers tailored to the needs of their customers, including a box bed grain trailer with a bed that can be raised to a 50-degree angle to serve as a dump bed. The company also moved from a small shop in downtown Durham to the current 9.3-acre fenced facility with a 40,000-suqare-foot enclosed factory.
Now the company is introducing a new type of trailer to its product line: a detachable bed that can be rolled off the trailer at a job site.
The trailer and bed were built specifically for a customer in California who wanted a way to transport a soil conditioning machine that is connected to a tractor by a 3-point hitch for use in vegetable fields to prepare seedbeds between crops.
"The problem they faced was trying to move that machine on California's busy highways. Not only did pulling it down the highway with a tractor present a slow traffic problem, it was also a wide load."
The solution that Donahue came up with was the detachable trailer that rolls off the truck onto the ground. This allows the machine to be lowered sideways onto the highway width trailer so it can be pulled down the highway to the job site."
Donahue delivered the prototype of the new trailer early this year and has built three more trailers, building improvements into each one of them. They currently have the prototype back in the factory at Durham and are in the process of modifying it to reflect engineering improvements.
This year, Donahue Manufacturing will bring its products to the Kansas State Fair for the 50th time. Their display will include refurbished equipment trailers numbered 3 and 4 to honor the company's long history in Kansas.
Company president Doug Kjellin, who bought the company in October of 2013 from the estate trust of Donahue, who ran the company until his death in 2011, said all of detachable bed trailers built so far have been delivered to the same California agricultural customer.
The company has 12 to 14 employees depending on work load.
"We are in a good position to gear up," he said. "We now have jigs built for all the parts of the trailer so it would be just a matter of adding manpower."
That is important, he said, because the company is beginning to see interest from other industries, especially construction and waste management.
Another company operating in California, for example, works with processing waste from dairy farms, removing the water and drying out the solid material into a soil amendment product.
The 22-foot-long trailer bed is well suited to carry a standard 20-foot container, he said, with the new roll-off technology being used to place the slider rollers under the container, making it in effect a detachable container that could be dropped at job sites.
"We could buy a standard container and modify it to whatever a customer needed," he said.
Gates or doors designed to allow access to the container interior would make it usable as a carrier of construction tools to a remodeling site or as a drop-off container for waste that would provide a company a mid-size commercial option less expensive that the heavy-duty roll-off containers currently in use.