August C. Fruehauf (b. December 15, 1868 -
d. May 16, 1930) founded
the world’s best-known manufacturer of tractor-trailers. August and his
Harvey C., Harry R., Roy A. and Andrew F. Fruehauf, pioneered
products such as refrigerated trailers, platform trailers, aluminum
trailers, stainless-steel trailers, drop- frame
and heavy-duty carryalls for tanks and heavy machinery. In 1950, Tide Magazine made reference to the trailer giant stating:
“To say it is the General Motors of the
the case. Not only is Fruehauf the biggest firm in the field, it
more than all the others put together.”
August Charles Fruehauf was born on December
15, 1868, in Fraser
(aka Frazer), Erin Township, Macomb County, Michigan, one of eight sons
daughters of Charles (b. Dec. 5, 1824 - d. Aug. 24, 1894) and Christine
(Hoffmeyer – aka Christina Sophia; b. Mar. 21, 1835-d.Nov. 5, 1919)
both natives of Saxony. Charles Fruehauf came to America as an
blacksmith and machinist.
Fraser was a small farming village near
Utica in Erin
Township, Macomb County, Michigan and was located six miles southwest
Clemens and nineteen miles northwest of downtown Detroit.
A map of Fraser, dated 1897 shows that
Charles had sold half
of his farmland to his eldest son, Fred (aka Freiderich). The
located on Church Street (now Fruehauf Ave.) south of Main St. (now
Mile Rd.), Fraser.
The 1870 US Census lists the Fruehauf’s in
Macomb County, Michigan, with Charles Sr.’s occupation being listed as
‘Engineer.’ The 1880 US Census lists Charles Sr.’s occupation as
Engineer.’ At the time the household included: Fred (aka Frederich
Charles (b. Sep. 1858); Edward (b.Feb. 1861); Henrietta M. (m. August
Spader - b.
April 22, 1863-d. June 5, 1925); William (b. 1865); August (b.1868);
(aka Emilie - b.1870); Louis (b.1872); Carl Heinrich George (b.Apr. 24,
Paul (b.1878) Fruehauf. Charles Fruehauf Jr. (b.1858) had moved to
where he worked as a blacksmith.
Young August attended Fraser’s St. John's
school and in
addition to working on the family’s small farm he earned extra money
holidays by dipping just-harvested Christmas trees in barrels of
colored paint, a practice common with the German immigrants of his
he completed his secondary education in 1884 August took an entry-level
at the industrial sawmill of Moffat & Eatherly, where his father
worked as the
Moffat & Eatherly ’s sawmill was not
small-town mill, being a large industrial enterprise located on the
the Detroit River between Dubois & Chene streets, on the same site
the Chene Park Amphitheater stands today. The sawmill was established
by Hugh Moffat, who was better known as ‘Honest Hugh Moffat,’ two-term
(1872-1875) Mayor of the City of Detroit. A native of Scotland where he
born in 1810, Moffat came to America in 1834, and after a short period
residence in Albany, N.Y. and Toronto, Ontario, Canada he relocated to
From 1837 onwards he followed his trade of carpenter and builder,
becoming the leading contractor in the building industry of the City.
he was joined by another native of Scotland named Florence D. Eatherly
Etherly) who after serving as an apprentice assisted him in the
erection of the
Biddle House, St. Paul’s church and other prominent buildings which
the self-named Moffat Block.
In 1852 Moffat built a large saw mill on the
river front of
the James Compo farm between Dubois & Chene streets after which
became more closely associated with Moffat as his clerk, bookkeeper and
manager. In 1870 the firm commenced construction on the Moffat Block, a
four-story brick office building located on the SW corner of Fort and
Sts., and soon after Eatherly became Moffat’s junior partner in the
Moffat & Eatherly, taking care of the firm’s affairs while the
partner served as Mayor of Detroit. In 1878, Moffat’s son Addison
firm and the firm was renamed Moffat, Eatherly & Co. After Moffat’s
passing Eatherly assumed control of the firm, which retained the former
name until the business was sold to the Delta Lumber Company in
While working at the sawmill he developed an
working with metal and upon reaching his majority began a blacksmith's
with the firm of Pfent & Sons of Roseville, Michigan, a northern
Detroit. Pfent’s factory was located at the northeast corner of Gratiot
and Girard Rd. (now the intersection of Gratiot Ave. and Nine Mile Rd.)
Anthony Pfent (b. Sept. 1838 in Germany) was
a well-known Roseville
wagon maker who had emigrated from Germany/France in 1851. His wife was
Margaret and their children included Margaret P.(b. Oct 28, 1868);
(b. Nov. 1869); Emma (b. May 1876);
George (b.Aug. 1878); Edward (b. Apr. 1882); and Joseph (b. Jul. 1884)
The 1870 US Census lists the family as residents of Grosse Point (later
home of Henry Ford) under the surname of Fent. The 1900 US Census lists
residents of Gratiot township, Wayne County, Michigan.
While running errands for Pfent, Fruehauf
met Louise H. Schuchard,
who like her sweetheart was born (on Jul. 1, 1870) in Erin Township,
County, Michigan to German immigrants. Her parents were both from
the Landgrafschaft Hessen-Darmstadt (landgraviate of
Germany; Gustavus Phillip Frederick Schuchard was
born in Ulrichstein and Magdalena (Spengler) Schuchard in Worms.
August and Louise were married on October
19, 1890, at St.
Peter's Lutheran Church which was situated at the northwest corner of
and 9-Mile Rd (current address is 23000 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe,
Mich.) and to
the blessed union was born five children — four sons and a daughter:
Andrew Ferdinand (b. April 1892-d.Dec. 4, 1965), Harvey Charles (b.
1893-d. Oct. 14, 1968), Harry Richard (b. June 8, 1896-d. Apr.
August (b. Oct. 1, 1909-d. Oct. 1965); and Myrtle (m. Gerald W.
Chamberlin - b.
Oct 1899-d. Feb.21, 1976) Fruehauf.
In 1895 Fruehauf, who was
now a journeyman blacksmith, opened a small blacksmith
and wagon works
in the heart of downtown Detroit at 425 Grand River Ave., in
William L. Welke. Born in Germany in Sept. 1870, Welke was a trained
who emigrated with his young wife Henriette in 1892. The partner’s
the 1896-1897 Detroit Directory being:
“Fruehauf & Welke (August Fruehauf,
L. Welke), carriagemakers, 425 Grand River Ave.”
“August C. Fruehauf (Fruehauf &
h. 427 Grand River Ave.”
The partnership was dissolved in 1897 when
Welke took a more
lucrative job in the carpentry department of a Detroit brewery.
to Mt. Clemens, Michigan, 25 miles north of Detroit, establishing his
and wagon repair shop; the move confirmed by his listing in the 1898
“August C. Fruehauf – removed to Mt.
A tragic fire destroyed his Mt. Clemens
during 1898, in which his wife suffered serious injuries, and once she
recovered the Fruehaufs moved back to Detroit, establishing a new shop
Gratiot Ave, near the corner of Concord Ave., his listing in the 1899
“August C. Fruehauf, blksmith, 1404
The 1900 US Census lists the Fruehauf family
at 1067 Concord
Ave. (corner of Gratiot), Detroit, with August’s occupation being
‘blacksmith’. Fruehauf’s early businesses (1375-1377 Gratiot, 1384
1404 Gratiot) were all located 3 to 4 blocks south of Gratiot Ave.’s
intersection with E. Grand Blvd. which was approximately 2 miles
the city center.
His listing in the 1900-1902 Detroit
“August C. Fruehauf, blksmith, 1404
Av, h.1067 Concord Av.”
Another fire destroyed the 1404 Gratiot Ave.
shop and he relocated across the street to a converted feed store, the
Detroit Directories listing him (and his older brother Charles) as
“August C. Fruehauf, horseshoer, 1384
Gratiot Av, h.1037 Canton Av.”
“Charles F. Fruehauf, blksmith, bds.1037
Charles had also become a blacksmith and for
a number of
years he worked alongside his younger brother in the Gratiot Ave shop,
in 1905 to take a position with a firm located in downtown Detroit near
home at 515 Junction Av. (now Junction St.). Pictures of the two-story
at 1384 Gratiot show various signage, the first being ‘AUG. FRUEHAUF –
BLACKSMITHING’ – a later iteration being ‘AUG. FRUEHAUF – MANFR –
WAGONS’, his listing in the 1905-1906 Detroit Directory being:
“August C. Fruehauf, horseshoer, 1384
Gratiot Av, h.1037 Canton Av.”
From 1905-1912 Fruehauf was listed in the
Directories under ‘wagon maker’, ‘horseshoer’ and ‘blacksmith’. A
neighbor recalled that Louise Fruehauf found time to help her husband
their growing family. One of her shop chores was painting Fruehauf
might say,” the neighbor continued, “she was also Fruehauf's first
agent. His long hours didn't allow Fruehauf time, so she did the
The 1912 Detroit Directory reveals that
Andrew, his eldest
son, was now working for the Ford Motor Co:
“Andrew F. Fruehauf, clk Ford Motor Co.,
bds. 1037 Canton Av.”
“August C. Fruehauf, blksmith, 1384
Av, h.1037 Canton Av.”
In 1912 Fruehauf moved across the street to
1375-1377 Gratiot, a much larger building that had enough space to
house 60 horses. His
other two eldest sons, Harry and Harvey, were also included, and
occupation was now ‘chemist’ (employer unknown) - their listings in the
“Andrew F. Fruehauf, chemist, bds. 1037
“August C. Fruehauf, blksmith, 1375-1377
Gratiot Av, h.1037
“Harry R. Fruehauf, hlpr, bds. 1037 Canton
“Harvey C. Fruehauf, clk. Allyne Brass
Co., bds. 1037
The year 1914 was the turning point in
Fruehauf's career. In
the middle of that year Frederick M. Sibley Jr., a Detroit lumberman,
Fruehauf to “rig up a contraption to hook onto a Model T roadster to
boat for a 600-mile trip to a lake in Upper Michigan.” The result was
Fruehauf's first semitrailer, a sturdy 2-wheeler with a pole that acted
a tongue and a brake. The trailer worked so well that Sibley ordered
trailers for heavier loads. Within nine months Fruehauf's business
According to Harvey Fruehauf Jr., grandson
of August, the
Sibley Paint people of Detroit asked August if he could build a trailer
Mr. Sibley's boat to the Flats near Harsens Island. Mr. Sibley wanted
his trailer to his Ford automobile. When Henry Ford learned of this, he
announced that the guarantee on the car was not valid if the car was
pull a trailer. This was the first trailer made by August Fruehauf.
Fruehauf’s listings in the 1914 Detroit
“Andrew F. Fruehauf, chemist, bds. 1037
“August C. Fruehauf, blksmith, 1375-1377
Gratiot Av, h.1037
“Harry R. Fruehauf, blksmith, bds. 1037
“Harvey C. Fruehauf, chf. clk. Aluminum
Casting Co., bds.
1037 Canton Av.”
“Sophia Fruehauf (wid Carl), bds. 1037
1915 Detroit Directory:
“Andrew F. Fruehauf, chemist, bds. 1037
“August C. Fruehauf, blksmith, 1375-1377
Gratiot Av, h.1037
“Harry R. Fruehauf, painter, bds. 1037
“Harvey C. Fruehauf, cashr, bds. 1037
“Sophia Fruehauf (wid Carl), bds. 1037
Although two of August’s four sons, Andrew
elected to pursue their own careers outside of the family business,
eventually drawn back to the fold. Harvey
completed his secondary education at the age of 13, taking a position
with the Allyne
Brass Foundry Co. in the firm’s shipping department. He took night
accounting and business law at the Detroit Technical School and after
promotions, became Allyne’s time clerk, with the additional duty of
figures and data that would determine costs on jobs. By the time Allyne
reorganized as the Aluminum Casting Co., he was making a $25 per week,
significant amount in those days.
In his leisure time, Harvey had been
assisting his father by
taking care of Fruehauf’s bookkeeping and accounts receivable,
became a full-time job in 1915. Almost immediately he began placing an
established price on the jobs that came into the shop, basing the price
on actual cost of materials and labor plus a reasonable profit, and
nine months the net worth of the business was tripled.
Harvey started the venture's advertising
program when he persuaded
his father (aka 'the Governor' within the firm) to run a $28
advertisement in The
American Lumberman, the leading trade periodical of the day, which
$22,000 in orders during 1915.
One of their customers, Frederic M. Sibley,
Fruehaufs to devise and construct some piece of equipment that would
to transport a boat from Detroit to a summer place in upper Michigan.
Sibley and Mr. Fruehauf designed a two-wheel vehicle with a front-end
would act as a pulling tongue when bolted to the rear end of Sibley’s
Ford. Impressed with the performance of this first 'trailer,' Sibley
the Fruehaufs to build a similar rig, but with a platform, which
use in moving materials about his lumber yard and in making deliveries.
the Fruehaufs, despite considerable opposition from truck manufacturers
with only $500 in the bank, officially entered the business of
trailers for use with automotive vehicles.
The family's listing in the 1916 Detroit
“Amelia Fruehauf (wid of Charles C.),
“Andrew F. Fruehauf, chemist, bds. 1037
“August C. Fruehauf, bodymkr, 1375-1377
Gratiot Av, h.1037
“Harry R. Fruehauf, pnter, bds. 1037
“Harvey C. Fruehauf, bkpr, bds. 1037
“Myrtle Fruehauf, clk, bds. 1037 Canton
“Sophia Fruehauf (wid Carl), bds. 1037
Although Fruehauf is often credited with
building the first
semi-trailer, the credit must be shared with a number of other
all arrived at the invention in the half-decade that preceded the First
War. The first patent relating to the fifth wheel hitch, whose
the semi-trailer practical, was awarded to Herman G. Farr, who at the
an engineer of the Knox Automobile Company of Springfield,
and another Knox engineer named Charles H. Martin, had been
various types of fifth-wheel arrangements in connection with their
the Knox Automobile Company, who were manufacturing a 3-wheeled tractor
designed to tow existing heavy trailers and fire apparatus.
Farr applied for a patent on his fifth wheel
on June 4,
1915, being awarded US Pat No. 1169717 on Jan 25, 1916 in partnership
Charles H. Martin and in late 1915 the pair formed the Martin Rocking
Wheel Co., in order to better exploit the device, the January 6, 1916
the Automobile reporting:
“Martin Rocking Fifth Wheel
Co. Organized in Springfield
“Springfield, Mass., Dec. 31 — The Martin
Rocking Fifth Wheel Co. has taken over the business and the patent
rights of C. H. Martin, this city. The officers of the new corporation
H. Martin, president, Adolf A. Geisel, treasurer and H. G. Farr,
secretary. Mr. Geisel, who will have the general management of the
business, has been
connected with the automobile industry for the past fifteen years.
“The tractor-semi-trailer business had
grown to the point where it was necessary to take in additional capital
in order to supply
the fifth wheel connections as fast as they were ordered. In addition
making fifth wheels in different sizes—from one that makes a Ford
roadster into a
1-ton tractor to one that makes a 5-ton truck into a 10-ton tractor—the
company plans to make semi-trailers for the Ford size.”
In fact Fruehauf became the Detroit
distributor for the Martin Rocking Fifth Wheel Co., and prominently
Martin fifth-wheels in their early advertising, the text from a 1918
“In the use of semi-trailers some
compensation is necessary for the uneveness of the road. Fruehauf
Trailers are built for the secerest service and not one point has been
overlooked that bears upon the efficiency of them. We strongly
recommend the Martin Rocking Fifth Wheel. It is well built, simple in
action and can be easily attached or detached in a few minutes. By the
use of this device short turns can be made. It forms a secure footing
of the trailer to the tractor. It adds little to the cost of the
equipment and does much to make the use of the Fruehauf Trailer
practicable under all conditions.
“Martin Rocking Fifth Wheel Prices
(includes upper and lower units):
4-ton capacity $65.00
6-ton capacity $85.00
10-ton capacity $110.00
“When more than one trailer is used in
conjunction with a motor truck, it is necessary to equip each
trailer with the upper part of the Fifth Wheel. Price for 4 and 6 ton
capacity $20.00 per trailer; 10 ton capacity, $25.00 per trailer.”
Although they had yet
to break into the national trailer market Fruehauf was becoming
well-known for their platform trailers in and around Detroit. The
November 2, 1916 issue of Motor Age
includes a detailed
article on the “Rapid Growth of the Trailer Industry”, stating:
“The history of the trailer industry
years, Knox being the first concern to take it up seriously with its
wheel tractor design now so familiar all over the country. The Knox
was done by C.H. Martin, at that time with the Knox organization and
president of his own company which manufactures a fifth wheel device
trailer attachment and small trailers. Following the early Knox
other work was taken up in different sections so that today an industry
us an industry working for its own self-control and an industry that
useful future ahead of it.”
By 1916 Fruehauf and various other,
better-known, firms were manufacturing
truck trailers in three
varieties; two-wheel trailers, semi-trailers and four-wheel trailers.
provides the details:
“The two wheel trailer has the load
on its axle.
The semi-trailer also uses two wheels but the load is not balanced over
axle, rather the front end of the load rests on the tractor vehicle,
that be a separate tractor (as in the Knox) or a motor truck. This
type is that design brought out by Knox and is now manufactured by many
concerns. The four wheel trailer has a large possible field of utility
be used in practically any service. It can be made in wheelbase lengths
conditions; in fact it is flexible in all load carrying respects. Four
trailers are at present found in all kinds of industries such as road
construction, breweries, motor car factories, general transportation
foundry work, lumber, tobacco industries, etc.”
The same issue (November 2, 1916) of
Age provided a
brief description of major players at that time, which did not yet
Fruehauf who was still a minor player at the time:
“C. H. Martin, president of the Martin
Rocking Fifth Wheel Co., which manufactures semi-trailers for Ford cars
and a rocking
fifth-wheel device, states his company has 400 semi-trailers in use at
approximately 800 fifth-wheel attachments, all of which has been done
since March, 1916. The work is being done by contract, the bodies being
by different wagon factories all over the country.
“The Troy Wagon Works Co. started its
movement in 1911, testing its vehicles for 2 years before marketing
date 500 installations have been made in this country and many in
lands. These trailers are used on more than fifty different makes of
These trailers range from 1% to 5-ton capacity and have reversible and
“The Watson Wagon Co. has built
approximately 500 of its
trailers and has capacity today for fifty a week. The greater part of
is building semi-trailers to be used with the Watson tractor. Watson
are used most in connection with repeated hauls over distances of 3 to
miles. In this service the company claims that cost per ton mile can be
“The Detroit Trailer Co., Inc., claims
2,000 trailers to date and to have capacity for two four-wheel trailers
four two-wheel trailers per day. Its trailers range in capacity from 1
and 5 to 7 tons.
“The Miami Trailer Co., marketing
capacity from 800 to 1,250 pounds, builds these in two-wheel and
types. The company has built up to date over 2,000 trailers and has
capacity for 200 per month. The company claims that the extra cost of
a trailer does not exceed 10 per cent of the original cost.
“The Warner Mfg. Co., which began in
manufacturing light types, will be ready in a few weeks to make
delivery on its
heavy types with such capacities as 2 1/2, 4 1/2 and 7 tons. Its light
have found varied use in connection with passenger cars. Light trailers
multiplicity of uses with farmers, dairy firms, etc.
“Sechler & Co. began construction
early part of
1915 and started work during the present year. The company has factory
facilities for an output of fifty a day. Models of all kinds are
with capacities from 1,250 pounds up. These trailers are of the
type, and suitable for all types of bodies and all kinds of service.
“Fox Bros. & Co. report having
manufactured 200 trailers
to date and to have a capacity of five per day. The trailer is a
design, intended for attachment to passenger cars. It has a capacity of
In 1917 Andrew Fruehauf, who had
married (to Alma
Schmide, daughter of Charles and Anna Schmide) was drafted, serving
the US Army until War’s end at which time he joined his brothers at the
family’s wagon works which began using the Fruehauf Trailer Co. moniker
their listing in the 1917 Detroit Directory being:
“August C. Fruehauf, (Fruehauf Trailer
Gratiot Av, h.534 Fischer Av.”
“Harry R. Fruehauf, pnter, bds. 534
“Harvey C. Fruehauf, bkpr, bds. 534
“Fruehauf Trailer Co. (August C.
Harvey also served as Fruehauf’s first
salesman, going out
and getting orders for trailers which the firm’s small crew (his
younger brothers and a handful of employees) struggled to fill. With
sales reaching $150,000 annually, a local newspaper reported, “the
shop literally began bulging at its bay windows with workmen and
trade.” During 1918 it became apparent
larger facility was necessary as the Gratiot Ave. plant had no room for
expansion. To meet the financial requirements of this
need, the Fruehaufs
officially incorporated the Fruehauf Trailer Company on February 27,
an authorized capitalization of $108,000,
with August C. Fruehauf as president and Harvey C. Fruehauf,
vice-president and general manager.
The trailer company provided a complete
listing of its
officers in the 1918 Detroit Directory:
“Fruehauf Trailer Co. (August C.
pres and treas;
Harvey C. Fruehauf, v-pres and gen mgr; Earl L. Vosler, sec and sales
auto trucks and trailers, 1371-1377 Gratiot Av.”
Harvey’s duties by this time had become
extensive that he
no longer had time for selling. He, therefore, began building up a
first training the salesmen, and soon thereafter he began setting up
distributorships. The first trailers, designed for use in the transport
lumber, were manufactured under the trade name Hercules. However,
months the company adopted the trade name, Fruehauf Trailers, and that
designation has since been applied to all trailers manufactured by the
The firm’s main line was its lumber
which by that
time made up the majority of the firm’s sales. Soon afterwards a second
Fruehauf trailer model was designed for use by wholesale grocers, and
thereafter a third which was designed specifically for use by milk
producers and distributors.
Business was so good that three months
its incorporation Fruehauf was recapitalized from $108,000 to $150,000,
the April 1918 issue of American Builder announcing:
“Fruehauf Trailer Company Enlarges
“Capital stock of the Fruehauf Trailer
Company of Detroit,
manufacturers of semi-trailers of one to ten ton capacities, has been
to $150,000 and the following officers elected: President and
Fruehauf; vice president and general manager, Harvey C. Fruehauf;
sales manager, E.L. Vosler. Production
of trailers has been doubled during the last two months and the dealer
organization is now being enlarged.”
Harvey also sent out display ads and
releases for placement in local newspapers by the firm's distributors.
A sample release from November of 1918 extolls the advantages of the
truck-trailer (in a roundabout way):
"Transportation Is A Big Problem Now
"'Transportation has long since become
science - to be studied with extreme care,' says H.C. Fruehauf,
general manager of the Fruehauf Trailer Company of Detroit, 'The
railroads are continuously promoting methods to reduce the costs of
haulage, and if all business men would coldly calculate their own
particular methods, they
could save thousands of dollars for themselves.'
"'Many times in the history of
building millions of dollars have been spent on a grade or a bridge or
in straightening out an irregular piece of track, all with the view of
cutting the costs of trasnportation. In every section of our great
country, road workers are laboring strenuously to build up a system of
highways that will in the end reduced transportation costs.'
"'It is a well-known fact that
use in our commercial or domestic life has to be transported from the
place of its prodcution to the point of consumption. Therefore, it is
readily understood that transportation is the basis of all costs.'
"'How to reduce these costs has been
problem of man for ages and will continue until the end of the world.
When the motor truck entered the field of commercialism it demonstrated
that it could so greatly lower the cost of transportation over its
predecessor, the horse, as to cause its universal adoption.'
"'Before the advent of the motor
brains and genius were content to let the problem rest and devote their
energy toward other things, but when the gas engine revolutionized the
modes of travel, engineers and scientists turned toward the problem of
transportation. Thus we find a motor vehicle that is developed to a
high state of efficiency and capable of hauling a huge load at a rapid
rate across the country at a nominal cost per ton-mile.'
"'American genius is never satisfied
handiwork and with the ultimate development of the motor truck to a
stage that rendered it efficient
under all conditions, ad discovery was laid bare that compelled
"'The fact discovere was not a new
it had been overlooked in the enthusiasm of success, and when the idea
was firmly pressed home it brough out conclusive evidence that the
truck could pull more than it could carry. To utilize this additional
power being wasted was but a short step toward the development of the
"'The cost of operation of a motor
not perceptibly increased with the use of trailers, yet its efficiency
is doubled and trebled - afurther step in lowering the cost of
In 1919 Fruehauf sales rose to $302,000
Fruehauf's chief engineer, Ernest F. Hartwick (b.April 27, 1887-d.April
introduced an improved manual fifth wheel coupler and trailer jack that
provided Fruehauf with their own patented hitching system, which
gradually replaced the third-party systems they had been getting from
the Martin Rocking Fifth-Wheel Co.Fruehauf's listing in the 1919
Detroit Directory follows:
“Fruehauf Trailer Co. (August C.
pres and treas; Harvey C. Fruehauf, v-pres; Earl L. Vosler, sec ),
Hartwick's manual coupler introduced
that could be raised and lowered
manually, allowing a single teamster to rapidly connect and disconnect
a trailer. Also introduced in late 1919 was the Fruehauf reversible
4-wheel trailer which permitted the trailer operator to pull the
Advertising in the national lumber
helped push the
volume of the firm to $700,000, on the slogan: “A horse can pull more
can carry — so can a motor truck.” The overtaxed Gratiot Ave. plant was
finally abandoned at the end of the year and the firm moved into their
new facility which was constructed at the intersection of Harper Ave.
Harper) and the DT Railroad, their listing in the 1920 Detroit
“Fruehauf Trailer Co. (August C.
pres and treas;
Harvey C. Fruehauf, v-pres; Earl L. Vosler, sec ), Harper Av. and DTRR.”
About this time, the van-type trailer
introduced, and soon afterward the Fruehauf hydraulic lift gate, a
device which allowed a single teamster to load and unload large and
heavy objects from ground level to the truck bed (or vice-versa)
Fruehauf also introduced heavy-duty ground-hugging carryalls which
goods and machinery of up to 35 tons to be transported with ease.
On January 3, 1920 Harvey, August C.
Fruehauf’s second-oldest son, married Angela Stewart Peck (b. February
1892-d.1980). To the blessed union was born 3 children, two daughters
and a son. In 1920 Myrtle Fruehauf, August's only daughter, married
Wilkenson ‘Jerry’ Chamberlin, son of George Erwin Chamberlin and
Adeline Cosford of New
York and to the blessed union was born 2 children, Donald and Joy
Although Myrtle never held a management postion with the firm, her
husband Jerry served in a number of executive positions during his
career with the firm.
Fruehauf factory branch was opened
in 1921, and by the end of the decade Fruehauf had established
satellites in every major metropolitan area of the country. AT
about the same time Harry had taken charge of the
firm's growing purchasing department and in 1923 his brother Harvey
created a finance department which also handled installment sales for
the firm's growing list of distributors.
On November 24, 1923 Harry R. Fruehauf
married Vera E. Berns, the daughter of
the well-known Detroit barber Andrew C. and Ida (Franeke)
Berns. To the blessed union was born a son, Harry Richard
Fruehauf, Jr. who later served as manager of the Fruehauf Co.’s factory
service depot in Detroit.
early 1920s also saw the birth of Fruehauf's first
‘refrigerated’ trailer body which was earmarked for use by milk and ice
cream manufacturers and haulers. After the cargo was loaded into the4
ton units, a trap door on the roof of the van would be
allow pulverized ice and salt to enter through spouts keeping the cargo
In the mid-Twenties Ernest F. Hartwick,
Fruehauf’s first chief engineer, was succeeded by
Frederick M. Reid (b.
April 18, 1900), who in 1926 introduced the
semi-trailer which allowed a trailer to be coupled and the
mechanically by the power of the tractor's engine. Another useful
invention was the
drop-frame tank semi-trailer which enabled
haulers to transport
gasoline and oil more efficiently and economically.
Sales reached $3.8 million in 1929, and
August handed the day-to-day control of the company to his son Harvey.
At the July, 1929 meeting of Fruehauf's Board of
Directors August became
chairman of the board, Harvey C., president; Harry R., vice-president
and director of
purchases; and August C.
treasurer. Earl L. Vosler became 2nd vice-president; Gerald W.
Chamberlin, 3rd vice-president and director of
sales; and Roy W. Jacobs, secretary and assistant treasurer.
The patriarch of the Fruehauf family
his home at Grosse Pointe,
Michigan, on May 16, 1930, approximately ten months after retiring -
June, 1930 issue
Autobody declaring him 'father of the automobile trailer':
“AUGUST C. FRUEHAUF
“August C. Fruehauf, generally known
the "father of the automobile trailer," died in Detroit on May 11, at
the age of 62. He had seemed as vigorous and strong as ever up to the
last year but since December had been confined to his home and
give any attention to business. He was born in 1868 at Fraser, Mich.,
been identified with the transportation filed for more than 35 years.
opened a small shop for the manufacture of wagons on Gratiot Avenue in
and continued the business of building heavy duty, horse-drawn vehicles
the coming of the motor truck displaced the horse.”
Harvey continued August’s tradition of
introducing the tandem axle in the early 1930’s. Trailer lengths and
were increased, and the larger payloads brought greater profits. Even
Depression did not harm the company; since trailers were so practical
economical, the demand for them remained healthy. The company next
a “frameless” van which was much lighter but very durable;
satisfied the trailer weight restrictions of states where Fruehauf’s
trailers could not go.
Fruehauf's listing in the 1931 Detroit
Directory list all of the firm's officers for the first time:
“Fruehauf Trailer Co., Harvey C.
pres; Harry R. Fruehauf, vice-pres-sec; Earl L. Vosler,
vice-pres-treas.; Gerald W.
Chamberlain, vice-pres and director of sales; Roy W. Jacobs, Asst
Automotive Trailers, 10940 Harper Ave., Tel Whittier 2410.”
As early as 1932 Harvey C. Fruehauf foresaw
for coordination between railroads and trucking companies, the
quote appeared in B.C. Forbes' nationally syndicated column of
"One of these days progressive railway
leaders will revolt against tradition and will co-ordinate rail and
motor operations, combining all the good features found in motor and
rail movements, in the great benefit of their customers."
A Chicago businessman named J.L. Keeshin
Fruehauf's ideas into practice during 1935, the September, 26, 1935
issue of the Oak Park Leaves (Chicago) reporting:
"The Keeshin Plan is to coordinate
railways. Trailers will be used and they will be loaded on railway cars
for long hauls, enabling railways to handle door-to-door freight. The
Chicago Tribune on Monday reported expansion of the business in part as
"The Keeshin Transcontinental Freight
has placed orders for trucking equipment costing about $1,250,000 in
the last few weeks in connection with its expansion in the motor
"Orders for 200 trailers were placed
the Fruehauf Trailer company in Detroit. Trailer bodies and springs
were bought from the Mariemont Manufacturing company of Chicago. In the
last two week, MR. Keeshin saids, orders for 130 trucks were divided
among the International Harvester, White and Ford companies.
"Keeshin also disclosed that plans are
being made for a combination rail and truck service which will give
fifthe morning delivery from Chicago to the Pacific coast, as compared
with present seventh day delivery."
In 1933 Fruehauf partnered with the Dow
Chemical Co. in the construction of a small batch of automobile
transport trailers for Detroit's White Star Lines. The trailers were
built using DowMetal, a proprietary alloy that was
not only stronger, but one-third lighter
than aluminum. Developed at the end of the First World War, DowMetal
was widely promoted for aviation
uses although it failed to find favor in the automobile and truck
manufacturing industry due to its significent cost disadvantages over
steel and aluminum.
Fruehauf's listing in the 1935 Detroit
“Fruehauf Trailer Co., Harvey C.
pres; Harry R. Fruehauf, vice-pres-sec-director of purchases; Earl L.
Gerald W. Chamberlain, vice-pres and director of sales; Wm. C. Hanway,
Treas.; Roy W.
Jacobs, Asst Treas. Mfrs Automotive Trailers, 10940 Harper Ave., Tel
November 30, 1935, August's youngest son, Roy A. Fruehauf, married
Catherine Meacham and to
the blessed union was born four children: Catherine Gail, Mary
Carolyn, Roy Lawrence
and William Meacham Fruehauf.
During the mid-to-late '30s and early '40s
Fruehauf developed a well-earned
reputation due to management's
dealings with the A. F. of L. (American Federation of Labor) Union,
which represented a large portion
of the firm's workers in Detroit. So brazen was Fruehauf's disdain for
its employees that management hired Pinkerton's private dectectives
to infiltrate the Union, one of which was so-well-entrenched that he
was elected treasurer of the Union Local. Even when
the plot was discovered, Fruehauf faced little-to-no retribution for
That all changed in July of 1935 when the
National Labor Relations Act went into effect at which time a complaint
was filed with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) who decided to
make an example of the trailer maker.
Herbert Little's syndicated
column, dated November 5, 1935, announced that the NLRB had decided to
take up the case:
"Labor Board in First Case
"Washington - Nov. 5 - The three
the National Labor Relations Board will convene tomorrow to take
evidence and pass judgement on the board's first automobile case.
"By deciding to take original
instead of letting a regional director hear the Fruehauf Trailer Co.
case, the board has picked the automobile industry for the second
leading test of the Wagner Labor Act in the courts.
"Two complaints have been issued. The
charged discriminatory discharge of six members of an A. F. of L.
union, from July 5 to July 15. The Wagner act was signed July 5. Violations of two of its unfair practice provisions, forbidding
interference with employees' rights to join labor organizations and
discrimination against employes because of union affiliations, were
charged by the board after investigation. The second case made similar
charges in connection with the discharge on Oct. 10 of J.L. Peterson, a
sub-foreman who had been in the company’s employ more than eight
years. The board has consolidated the two cases for hearing."
The National Labor Relations Act - aka
Wagner Act, named for its sponsor, Sen. Robert F. Wagner, of New York,
which went into effect on July 5, 1935, reads:
"The Labor Relations Act: Entitled
promote equality of bargaining power between employers and employes, to
diminish the causes of labor disputes.'
"It created the National Labor
Board to prevent 'unfair labor practices,' to hear complaints of
employees wishing to hold secret elections among employees, and to
prosecute defiant employers in the federal courts.
"It provides that representatives
for collective bargaining by a majority of employees shall be the
exclusive representatives of all employees for bargaining as to wages,
hours and other conditions of employment.
"It prohibits as 'unfair labor
any interference with, restraint of, coercion of employees in their
guaranteed right to organize and bargain collectively.
"It also prohibits any domination or
interference with formation of any labor organization, or contribution
of financial or other support to it.
"It makes unlawful the act of any
who refuses to bargain collectively or engages in any type of
discrimination designed to discourage labor union membership or punish
The November 7, 1935 AP Newsire carried
news that Fruehauf'vice-president Earl L. Vosler would neither confirm
nor deny the allegations:
"Refuses To Comment on Union Spy Charge
"Detroit - Nov. 7 -(AP)- Earl L.
vice-president of the Fruehauf Trailer Co., created a storm today in
the proceedings of the National
Labor Relations Board against the company by refusing to say whether
the company has hired detectives to spy out union men among its
"The proceedings, which are being
closely by both industrial
and labor interests, grew out of the charge the company had fired seven
men because they joined the United Automobile Workers federal labor
The following day Vosler returned to the
hearing and admitted that Furehauf had in fact "hired a private
detective as under-cover-man to join a union and mingle with the union
men." The union charged that six of their members were told to quit the
union and were discharged on their refusal.
The NLRB issued a 'Cease and Desist'
requiring that Fruehauf put an immediate halt to to alleged
violations of the Wagner Act's 'unfair labor practices' section, the
news was made public by the Associated Press on December 16,1935:
"Orders Company To Quit Hiring Private
"Washington, Dec. 16. (AP) — The
labor relations board ordered the Fruehauf Trailer Co., of Detroit
today to cease employing private detectives for the alleged purpose of
reporting on union activity among its workers.
"In its first decision affecting the
automobile industry, the board also directed the company to reinstate
seven employes with back pay. These workers, the board said, were
discharged for union activity. The company also was directed to stop
'interfering' with the organization of its workers.
"The board cited testimony regarding
Martin, described as a private detective in the company's pay. The
board asserted he 'passed as an ordinary employee,' and was elected
treasurer of the United Automobile Workers local.
"He reported once a week to the plant
superintendent, the board said, while he had access to union membership
lists. The superintendent then went about the plant warning workers
against uniion activity, testimony said."
Fruehauf appealed the decision in the
US Circuit Court of Appeals, on the grounds that the Wagner Act
the 10th Ammendment to the US Constitution and on June 30, 1936 the
court ruled in Fruehauf's favor. The Associated Press reporting:
"Cincinnati, June 30 - (AP) - The US
Court of Appeals held today the National Labor Relations Board lacked
authority to issue orders affecting companies whose business 'does not
directly affect any phase of any interstate commerce.'
"It dismissed a petition of the board
enforcement of an order it issued to Fruehauf Trailer company of
Detroit and directed the order be set aside. The Fruehauf company
attacked the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act in
appealing from the order of the board."
However, the NLRB appealed the Circuit
Court's ruling against Fruhauf and on November 9, 1936 the US Supreme
Court agreed to review the matter. The Monday April 12, 1937
Press newswire reported:
"Washington, April 12 -(AP)- The
Court, in an epochal descision, upheld today the right ot the National
Labor Relations Board to regulate employer-employee relationships in
businesses engaged in interstate commerce.
"The decision broadened the scoped of
Interstate Commerce clause beyond what opponents of the law contended
was the proper boundary line.
"The Court ruled 5 to 4 that the
was applicable to the Fruehauf Trailer Co. of Detroit.
"The opinion in the Fruehauf Trailer
case, delivered by Chief Justice Hughes, upheld an order by the
National Labor Relations board directing the company to reinstate seven
"'We have examined respondent's
company) contentions' Hughes asserted, 'and we are of the opinion that
the findings of the board, with respect to the nature of the
respondent's business and the circumstances of the discharges
complained of, are supported by the evidence.'
"The chief justice said that 'the
relating to the construction and validity of the act have been fully
discussed in the court's opinion, just delivered, upholding the act as
applied to the Jones and Laughlin Steel corporation.
"'We hold that the principles there
are applicable here,' he concluded.
The Court's statement in regards to the
Jones and Laughlin Steel case follows:
"Chief Justice Hughes said the Wagner
its present application, 'goes not further than to safeguard the right
of employees to self organization and to select representatives of
their own choosing for collective bargaining or other mutual protection
without restraint or coercion by their employer. That is a fundemental
fight,' Hughes continued. 'Employees have as clear a right to orgnaize
and select their representatives for lawful purposes as the respondent
has to organize his business and select its own officers and agents.'"
Although Fruehauf management didn't
the Court's findings they begrudgingly reinstated the 7 fired employees
and feigned compliance with the statutes of the Wagner Act.
At the same time Fruhauf was acquiring a bad
reputation with Labor, they were quietly buying up some of their
compeititors. In 1936 they purchased
the capital stock of the Indiana Carriage Co. (Missouri) which was
subsequently acquired by the newly formed Fruehauf of Kansas Co. (in
1937), then dissolved.
The recently organized Fruehauf Trailer Co.
of California also acquired the physical
assets (and 'good will') of the Bunnell-Kirksey Trailer Corp., at 2160
E. 55th St., Los Angeles, Calif., at the same time for $250,000. The
facility was subsequently remodeled and became Fruehauf's West-coast
trailer factory and service depot. Fruehauf's California operations
eventually occupied 73,000 sq. ft. of
manufacturing space and employed 350. Headquartered in Gardena,
California, Fruehauf operated plants and sales and service depots in
Anaheim, Santa Monica and Gardena, California.
In 1938 Fruehauf founded the Iowa
Engineering Company to handle the manufacture of
used in the trailer manufacturing process, and formed a partnership
the Detroit Compensating Axle Corporation, later known as the
Corporation. A period ad announced the
debut of the Differential Dual Wheel which eventually became standard
equipment on all Fruehauf trailers:
"The remedy for excessive tire wear
came with the invention of the Differential Dual Wheel now available
through Fruehauf, allows all Trailer tires to rotate
independently of one another."
Fruehauf's Canadian branch, Fruehauf Trailer
Co. of Canada, Ltd., in Weston, Ontario furnished the drop-frame
chassis that provided the backbone for the streamlined beverage
transporters that crossed the Canadian highways during the late 1930s
and 1940s. Customers included Bradings, a Canadian brewer
Ottawa, and John LaBatt Ltd. of London, Ontario.
The background story of the Canadian
streamliners is an interesting one. Although most
Provinces repealed Prohibition during the mid-twenties, Canadian
vintners and distillers were prohibited from advertising their
beverages in the
Province of Ontario into the 1950s. During the 30s and 40s brightly
aerodynamic delivery trucks were built for numerous Canadian alcoholic
manufacturers to provide them with some much-needed publicity.
The most outrageous of the bunch featured
Fruehauf trailers and Smith Bros. (of Toronto) coachwork, all designed
by Count Alexis de
Sakhnoffsky. In 1935 White received an order from the London, Ontario
John Labatt Ltd. to create an eye-catching show-piece for the 1936 CNE
(Canadian National Exhibition - opened on August 28, 1936). White's
office presented the project to the firm's Cleveland-based designs
recommended Sakhnoffsky for the design portion of the project.
According to Labatt's, de Sakhnoffsky
streamlined tractor-trailers designs, whose introduction was to be
over the upcoming decade, each one more futuristic and streamlined than
The first, of which 4 examples were built,
debuted in 1936.
It featured a basically stock White Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. single
tractor cab & chassis mated to a Fruehauf of Canada Ltd.
drop-frame trailer chassis which bore aerodynamic Smith Bros. coachwork
using an ash and maple framework sheathed with hand-formed
Toronto's Smith Bros. customized the
running boards that flowed into the rear fenders, whose distinctive
matched the ones on the rear of the trailer. According to Labatts, the
distinctive firm's red paint and striking gold graphics were applied in
Labatt's own paint shop.
In a 1978 article Toronto-based Canadian
Rolland Lewis Jerry (b.1924-d.2002) states that the Phildalephia-based
Saknoffsky "came to Canada in the mid-30s" but provides no further
In mid-1937 the second series, a more
advanced design -
which included a streamlined White model 812 cab mated to a matching
drop-deck trailer - debuted. Twelve examples were constructed in Smith
shop, all of which wore Labatt's red & gold color scheme, which was
again applied in Labatt's London, Ontario paint shop.
One of the first examples of the second
series was readied
in time for White to display it at the 1937 Great Lakes Exhibition
it returned to Toronto where it was the star of the brewer's exhibit at
1937 Canadian National Exhibition. It was later sent to the 1939 New
World's Fair where it was awarded 'Best Design'.
The June 20, 1937 Motors and Motor Men
column of the New
York Times reported on the increased efficiency of the de
"Tests made recently by transportation
engineers for John
Labatt, Ltd., brewers of London, Canada, proved that revolutionary
truck design and for increased efficiency and low cost operation per
Canadian Company placed an order with the White Motor Company for
all-streamlined cab-over-engine tractor-trailer units, one of which is
display at the Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland. They are to be
styled by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. Two trucks, one streamlined and
other conventional but of the same model and carrying identical loads
125-mile run between Toronto and London. Heading into a
west wind, the streamlined truck reached its destination using 9 per
gasoline, making the trip approximately ten miles per hour faster than
The tractor and trailer combined were 37
feet long, 10 feet
high, and eight feet wide. The body was made from aluminum sheets
pinned over a
frame made from hundreds of pieces of hard wood. The empty trucks
much as 10 tons and had a trailer capacity of about 825 cubic feet.
carry eight and a half tons of beer and were still capable of about 50
The seldom-seen third version, two of which
in 1939-1940 before the War halted such frivolous projects, featured
sweeping curves added to the roof of the tractor and long tail fin
added to the
trailer which featured dark blue side panels not found on the postwar
streamliners. Once again White furnished the cab, Fruehauf the trailer
Smith Brothers the coachwork.A surviving picture reveals a similarly
straight van was also produced using the same paint scheme.
When hostilities ceased, the fourth version
which 10 examples were constructed during 1947 at a cost of $16,000
were constructed using de Sakhnoffsky's 4th design, whose cab was
different from the pre-War units. Photographs exist of stock White cabs
post-war streamline trailers and LaBatt itself doesn't state
many of the post-war cabs were streamliners, so the exact number of
trailers and streamline cabs is currently open to debate.
The forward raked cab featured a curved
windshield and side
windows for great visibility when travelling forward or backing up, its
gently arced from the top of the cab both downwards and rearwards
distance between the cab and the trailer. Built on a White WA122 COE
(cab-over-engine) single-axle chassis, the cabs of the postwar
tilted from the rear to allow easy access to the motor for maintenance
repair. The drop-frame trailers' streamlined coachwork was slightly
before in order to match the all-new cabs.
The 1947 streamliners once again featured
Fruehauf trailers and Smith Bros. coachwork – all paint and gold-leaf
once again applied in Labatt's own garage paint shop – the trailers of
the two 1939
versions bearing Labatt's blue and red paint scheme with gold leaf trim
A 1948 issue of Canadian Transportation
featured a small
article describing the streamliners constructed in 1947:
"Another 'Streamliner' for John LaBatt, Ltd.
"The London, Ont. Brewing and bottling
for operation of handsome, streamlined motor truck equipment on Ontario
highways has added a fourth model to its fleet, designed like its
by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky.
"What is spoken of as the most modern
transport on the
road in Canada, a fourth design of freight automotive equipment has
to the fleet of John LaBatt, Ltd., London, Ont. The most recent
addition is a
tractor-trailer (or, more properly, semitrailer) combination, and the
is, like that of the three forerunners, the work of Count Alexis de
Sakhnoffsky, designer with international reputation.
"LaBatt streamliners, which have always
subject of much public and industrial comment both for their utility
beauty, were introduced by the London breweries firm in 1936. All four
which are now in use were drawn by Count de Sakhnoffsky at the same
allow for a steady progression in streamlining. These great sleek
trucks are designed basically for hauling. They are practical
the lines which fit them for their work on the road also give them
"The new streamliner has a White tractor,
built by the
White Motor Co. of Canada, Ltd., Montreal. The drop-frame trailer was
constructed by Fruehauf Trailer Co. of Canada, Ltd., Weston, Ont. The
the streamliner, cab and trailer, was supplied by Smith Bros. Motor
Toronto. It is an all-metal body of aluminum, over a wood framework.
aluminum reduces weight. All Labatt transportation equipment is painted
company paint shop. The new streamliners are all red, with lettering
ornamentation in gold leaf. This latest model is minus the dark blue
panels which characterize the previous design.
"The new streamliner differs quite
earlier model, particularly in the tractor. The front of the cab is
vertical and flatter in the latest model, but the most noticeable
change is in
the rear of the cab, which is curved in one smooth line from the top
leaving greater distance between the cab and the trailer.
"The older cab had an almost flat top and
vertical back. The new cab has a curved windshield for better view, and
side windows at the back for greater visibility in backing and turning.
cabs of the new streamliners tilt from the rear, to allow easy access
"The trailer of the new streamliner is set
the trailer of the previous model, and is rounded on both upper and
at both front and rear, rather than being rounded to a flat bottom
This makes the front and rear more similar, the front less snubbed and
less sloped. The trailer features a stainless steel 'dorsal fin',
"All the new streamliners are equipped with
anti-jacknife device on the fifth wheel. The Labatt firm was the first
Canada to employ the anti-jacknife device, and many of the older models
been fitted with this equipment.
"Combination stop and directional arrow
located on both sides, front and rear of the new streamliner. The
tractor-trailer is 36 ft. 10 in. long over all. The combination has
of 28 ft. 5 in., the wheelbase of the tractor alone being 121 in.
Height over all
is 9 ft. 8 in., and width over all, 8 ft. 5 in. The trailer length is
and trailer capacity is approximately 825 cu. ft.
"The tractor-trailer is 36 ft. 10 in. long
The combination has wheelbase of 28 ft. 5 in., the wheelbase of the
alone being 121 in. Height over all, 8 ft. 5 in. The trailer length is
and the trailer capacity is approximately 825 cu. ft. The trailer is
model W.A. 122, and is powered with the 'Super Power' model 140A
develops 125 h.p. and has piston displacement of 362 cu. in. The
model 501B, provides five forward speeds. Westinghouse air brakes are
and the equipment includes air-operated windshield wipers and horn."
A pair of LaBatt's streamliners survive,
version which is currently undergoing restoration, the second a totally
1947 version built using an original trailer and a re-created cab.
1939 Fruehauf constructed a $210 million factory in Detroit to house
its new body assembly and sheet metal stamping operations.Fruehauf also
formed a distribution
partnership with the Edward G.
becoming the exclusive distributor of Budd-built stainless steel
trailers ordering 10,000 trailers bodies over the course of the
four-year contract, which were shipped
disassembled (CKD or completely knocked down) to Fruehauf’s Detroit
plant where they were assembled and fitted
axles. The partnership was announced in the December 15, 1939 edition
of the New York Times:
“To Offer Stainless Trailer
“The Fruehauf Trailer Co., it was
disclosed yesterday, will soon place on the market a new deluxe line of
stainless-steel commercial trailers. According to Harvey C.
president of the company, this program is the result of arrangements
just completed with the Edward G. Buud Company of Philadelphia, whose
shot-welding process has been responsible for the development of
stainless-steel streamlined railway coaches as well as this new type of
trailer body. According to officials, the average trailer, to haul a
twelve-ton load, weighs from 7,000 to 8,500 pounds, while the
stilaess-steel unit will weigh only 5,500 pounds.”
Fruehauf's listing in the 1940 Detroit
“Fruehauf Trailer Co., Harvey C.
pres; Harry R. Fruehauf, vice-pres-sec-director of purchases; Roy A.
Vice-pres and director of sales; Wm. C. Hanway, Treas.; Roy W. Jacobs,
Asst Treas. Mfrs
Automotive Commercial Trailers, 10940 Harper Ave., Tel Plaza 2410.”
Fruehauf management remained sour on
organized labor and the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration as
evidenced by the following statements Harvey C. Fruehauf made to
B.C. Forbes in his May 9, 1941 column:
"In the last few years I have
across large employers who voiced discouragement, who felt poignantly
that Washington was unfair, who were inclined to relax their strenuous
efforts to provide work, better jobs, and develop enterprise.
"Listen to what one company head,
Harvey C. Fruehauf, of the Fruehauf Trailer company, has to say.
"'I cannot well be regarded, as an
royalist.' I left school at 13 and went to work for $2.75 a week. I
attended night school to acquire a business education. I know very well
the viewpoint of the employee and what he must do to get ahead. I know
it is simply good justness'to pay employes liberally - it's the one way
to get top performance and necessary loyalty - and we pay our people
"'Mr. Roosevelt and his associates
encouraged the people generally to believe that all of their personal
burdens will be carried by the New Deal administration.'
"'Corporations are up against laws
are simply unworkable - that is,
if business is to grow and provide more employment.'
"'Politicians, who are only spenders
money, take great delight in pointing the finger of scorn at
businessmen - employers - who are earners and doers. Congressional
investigations are held regularly and continuously, resulting in the
pouring of gasoline on the fires of class hatred and mutual distrust.'
"Sooner or later, business leaders
begin to wonder why they should continue in business - just why they
should continue to shoulder such heavy responsibilities."
Despite his frustration with the
government's labor policies, business
remained very good for Fruehauf, their sales nearly quadrupled between
1936 and 1942. Throughout World War II the business expanded rapidly
because of the increased demand for truck trailers to mobilize troops
and supplies. Government orders began pouring in as
as 1940, the December 10, 1941 issue of the Kansas City Star reported
that the local Fruehauf factory had received a half-million dollar
order for 237 semi-trailers:
"Order Army Vans Here: Fruehauf To
For Air Corps.
"The $500,000 Oder is for Semi-Trailer
With a Drop Frame for Easy Loading.
"The Fruehauf Trailer company will
K ansas City 237 semi-trailers of the moving van type for the army air
corps. The order, received today by Walter W. Siegrist, manager, from
the Detroit headquarters of the company, will be considerably in excess
of $500,000, but the exact amount was not stated.
"The trailers are similar to the
type made by the Kansas City plant for the Fruehauf's moving van
business in the entire Untied States east of the Rock Mountains.
"They were twenty-eight feet long, and
distinguished by the drop frame, which puts the floor at a level
considerably lower than that used on vehicles depending mostly on dock
loading facilities. The frames are of steel tubing and the walls of
steel sheets are insulated.
"One difference in the air corps
specifications is the provision for screened windows.
"Another section of the order, for 237
dollies — the 2-wheeled units placed under the front ends of the
trailers for handling when they are not attached to the tractors - will
be filled probably in the Detroit plant.
"Production of units will start in
thirty days, when the materials arrive. The company expects to handle
the order on its regular production schedule without much increase in
its present pay roll, which is at the peak figure of
"The company also is building pontoon
carriers at other plants."
During WW II, the company and its
subsidiaries attributed approximately 65 to 68 percent of its
consolidated net sales to
government contracts and sub-contracts. In the October 25, 1950 issue
Readers, then-president Roy Fruehauf briefly described the firm’s
during the Second World War:
“During War II we made some practice
and cut armor plate for tanks. Mainly we kept making trailers. The
Government used them for tank carriers, tank retrievers, dental
clinics, buses to
carry soldiers and food, for radar equipment and portable machine
addition to their troop transport semi-trailers Fruhauf also
constructed semi-trailer buses for domestic corporations who used them
to transport war workers to and from their factories.
manufacting dates of Fruehauf military trailers are hard to determine
models were constructed over spans of a decade or more, in various
iterations, which are commonly noted by a suffix (eg. an M-107 E2 was
an M-107 400 gallon water tank trailer constructed in 1954). To
confuse matters some trailerschanged their model number when mated with
its intended cargo/armament (eg: the G-221 series M-17 trailer
was re-designated the M-51 when mated with its M-45 quad-mount
anti-aircraft gun). Certain trailers were manufactured by numerous
firms, so without a data
plate the exact manufacturer can be difficult, if not impossible, to
Military trailers known to have been
produced by Fruehauf
during the 40s and 50s include (but are not limited to) the following
(listed by their supply catalog designation). Keep in mind technical
Manual number TM-2800, dated Sept 1, 1943, contains 77 pages of
trailers and 67 pages of semi-trailers (144 in all), and the following
list is most assuredly not complete:
G-117 (built 1941) - M-6 7-ton trailer
variant) and M-12 9-ton trailer for tractor cranes
G-159 - M-9 capacity 45-ton 3-axle
G-160 M15 capacity 40-ton semi-trailer
Later M15A1 45-tons
G-221 trailer M-1 (searchlight), M-17
M-45 quad-mount gun, designated M-51 when mated), M-18 (generator)
G-529 ¼ ton trailers – for Jeeps
G-581 Semitrailer, 10-Ton, Combination
G-601 10-Ton stake semitrailer
G-603 12 1/2-ton van-body semitrailer
G-660 M-10 amunition trailer
G-663 6 1/2 -ton pipe trailer
G-667 12-ton flat bed semitrailer
G-676 M-365 Dolly (10-ton trailer
and 10-ton combination stake and platform semiltrailer
G-695 K-83 Dollies – converted
trailers for the signal corps.
G-708- K-363 Dollies
G-710 20-Ton & 22-Ton Low-Bed
(CPT-20 & CPT-22) and Jahn Model LKD-620
G719 5-Ton Cargo Trailer
G-723 11-Ton van-body semitrailer
G-750 M-126 12-ton trailer chassis
M-127 stake, M-128 cargo van, M-129 supply van, and M-308 4,000 gallon
G-754 1 1/2-ton trailer - (includes
trailer, M-103 chassis, M-104 cargo, M-105 cargo, M-106 water tank,
M-107 water tank, and M-448 shop van)
In 1947 Fruehauf purchased the Carter
Co., of Memphis, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama, a well-known
manufacturer of semi-trailers originally founded in 1927.
1948 Fruehauf sold off a substantial portion of the firm's 182,000 sq.
ft. Harper Ave. plant, confining its
operations to research and development. The general offices of the
operated eight additional plants, all of them acquired after 1936.
included the manufacturing and assembling plant at Vernon, Calif., with
square feet of floor space; the tank and stainless steel trailer
plant at Fort Wayne, Ind., with 313,769 square feet of floor space; a
operations plant at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with a 135,325 square feet of
space; a tank trailer assembly plant in Omaha, Nebraska, with 24,000
feet of floor space; the plant in Memphis, Tennessee, now known as the
Fruehauf-Carter Division, with 75,000 square feet, and a second plant
city with 66,381 square feet; a plant for the manufacture of standard
trailers and truck bodies in Cleveland, Ohio, covering 832,850 square
floor space; and a large plant in Weston, Ontario, Canada which
produced a wide variety of trailers for the expanding Canadian market.
A 33 ft. long, 7,000 gallon
Fruehauf tank trailer co-starred with a 1956 (1960 & 1964)
281 tractor ( 4 different cabs were used) and a 1970 (1971 & 1972)
Valiant sedan (3 were used) in Steven Spielberg’s 1971
‘Duel’, which featured Dennis Weaver in a supporting role. Originally
ABC’s November 13, 1971 ‘Movie of the Week’, Duel was based upon
fiction writer Richard Matheson’s short story of the same name that
the April 1971 issue of Playboy Magazine, and is considered by
Spielberg to be
his ‘High Noon on wheels’. Matheson’s story was based upon a
personal encounter with a tailgating trucker that occurred on November
22, 1963, the same day that President John F. Kennedy was
Harvey C. Fruehauf served as Fruehauf’s
president from 1930 until
he assumed the post of chairman of the board in 1949. Under
increased from $3,759,000 at the close of 1929 to $77,261,923 in 1949.
latter year total assets of the company were $73,496,878, and the
firm's 8 plants occupied almost 1 million sq. ft. of floor space
situated on 100 acres of real estate.
World War II Fruehauf organized Fruehauf
Trailer Sales, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary which by December 31, of
1951 had financed $55
buyers’ installment purchases of Fruehauf equipment. The October 22,
1948 issue of the New York Times announced the scheme, which was backed
by an unamed insurance underwriter:
“INSURANCE CREDIT ENTERS TRUCK FIELD;
Company to Advance
Fruehauf Trailer Concern $30,000,000 as Operating Backing
“Entry of insurance company credit into
the financing of
purchases of truck-trailers was revealed here yesterday in the
for a $30,000,000 credit for the Fruehauf Trailer Sales, Inc., a new
formed to take over installment receivables of the Fruehauf Trailer
periods up to five years.
“Negotiating through the banking firms of
and Watling, Lerchen & Co., the new company has arranged to borrow
own 3 ½ per cent debentures due Sept. 1, 1963. The name of the
company extending the long-term credit was not disclosed.
“Harvey C. Fruehauf, president of the
Fruehauf Trailer Company,
asserted that the availability of this type of long-term financing for
transport operators was an indication of the stability and economic
of highway freight transportation.
“‘This is the first time that life
insurance funds are made
available for loans with truck-trailer equipment as underlying
Fruehauf said. ‘It has a parallel in the railroad industry, where the
of rolling stock equipment has long been financed through institutional
capital. The fact that similar capital sources are now in effect
customers of Fruehauf affords concrete evidence of the progress our
“It was said that the initial employment
of credit under
this arrangement would yield the trailer manufacturing company about
in cash for the reduction of current bank loans. The trailer company’s
receivables have been running around $18,000,000. The pro forma balance
as of Aug. 31 showed current assets of $55,268,918 and current
liabilities of $14,211,448.
“In the past installment-purchase
contracts of the Fruehauf
type could be used to secure credits limited in terms of thirty-six
Through the intermediate credit accommodation furnished by the new
Trailer Sales Company this term has been extended to five years. This,
explained, is a recognition of the fact that the engineless trailer has
to claim longer life than a motor vehicle when regarded as security for
They also helped organize the Commercial
Co. of Chicago, a firm whose sole customer, the Lustron Corporation, a
Columbus, Ohio-based manufacturer of prefabricated steel housing,
nearly dragged Fruhauf into
In 1947 Lustron had contracted with
Co. of Chicago, a recently-organized Fruehauf-controlled leasing
company, to lease 400 tractors and 810 trailers to move the
houses. Commercial Home Equipment consequently entered into a contract
with the White
for 200 tractors and with Fruehauf Trailer Co. for the 810
(designed by Lustron’s
Dick Reedy), with Fruehauf’s portion of the deal pegged at $4.5
payments of $25,000 would be made and the contract stipulated that
would have 40 per cent of the purchase price before delivery of any
Fruehauf signed the contract in October of 1947, long before Lustron
production in the former Curtiss-Wright factory in Columbus, Ohio. Roy
A. Fruehauf provided details of the
Lustron debacle in an article entitled 'A Close Call For Fruehauf'
which was published in the April 7, 1951 issue of
“When Lustron folded, Fruehauf was
owed it on 800 special trailers it built for Lustron’s trucker. But it
plans to convert and resell the trailers without losing a cent.
“Not too long ago, the name Lustron
full of promise. With its
radical process for mass-producing prefab houses of porcelain-enameled
the new company looked to a lot of people as though it could lick the
housing shortage almost singlehanded. Housing Administrator Wilson
gave it his blessing. So did Reconstruction Finance Corp.—to the tune,
finally, of $37.5-million.
“And so, in a way, did Roy Fruehauf,
burly, young president of Fruehauf
Trailer Co. Fruehauf took a $4.5-million order to supply Lustron with
specially designed trailers. When Lustron folded, Fruehauf found
itself with a whole fleet of trailers on its hands—good for nothing but
carrying prefab houses—and most of them unpaid for.
“Liability to Asset - To the great
relief of his stockholders, Roy Fruehauf announced in his annual report
that his company is converting all the 800 trailers back into regular
units and reselling them at a price that will recover the balance of
on them ($2.5-million), plus conversion costs. The first trailer
down the line this week. Besides wiping away a nasty account
this move will be a great help to Fruehauf in meeting its $30-million
“Big Customer - A vital part of
plan was its unique
distribution system. It was based on trucks and more trucks. Truck
actually part of the assembly line. Parts of the houses were
loaded on them as they moved down the line. When they had a
on their backs, they were pulled off the line and either parked, as a
on wheels, or hitched to a tractor and towed off right to the customer.
“Small wonder, then, that Roy Fruehauf
his eye on Lustron as a big
customer. His company had been in the trailer-building business
since the horse-drawn days when Roy’s father August C. Fruehauf, set up
and wagon shop in Detroit. It had grown to claim 'half or better' of
the U.S. trailer market. The company was tooled for big orders and had
plenty of experience in building custom-designed trailers. It was a
to supply the combination assembly line-warehouse carrier that Lustron
wanted in large quantities.
“Contract - In October, 1947, Roy
closed a deal with
Commercial Home Equipment Corp., Lustron’s hauling contractor, to build
800 of the
specially designed trailers at a cost of almost $4.5-million. Financing
arrangements called for weekly payments of $25,000, and Fruehauf was to
have at least 40% of the purchase price in hand before delivering a
“Speedup - According to Fruehauf’s
testimony before the Senate
Banking & Currency Committee investigating Lustron, the following
two RFC officials met with him and insisted that he double the planned
production of trailers. They warned that if he didn’t they would give
the contract to another
manufacturer. In answer to Fruehauf’s question about payments to meet
speeded-up deliveries, they said, 'You know that the RFC is committed
$50-million on Lustron, so you can count on being paid in full for your
trailers and don’t worry about it.'
“Fruehauf reluctantly agreed.
on the trailers
materially increased, while installment payments by Commercial stayed
“In the next two years, deliveries of
trailers to Commercial exceeded
payments for them by nearly $3-million. In Fruehauf’s words, 'The fact
that such a large percentage of the original purchase price of these
still unpaid is attributable directly to the changes insisted upon by
“The Lustron Tangle
“Since Lustron was Commercial’s only
of income, Fruehauf naturally kept an increasingly anxious eye on the
there. 'We (Fruehauf) have spent many hours each day on this matter
protect our $3-million indebtedness,' Fruehauf said.
“'I learned that in October, 1949, the
notified Carl Strandlund,
the president of Lustron, that unless a reorganization and change of
management were entered into, satisfactory to the RFC, the RFC would
designed to protect its interests.' Strandlund submitted a
plan, which RFC rejected in November without saying why.
“Friendly Committee – In the meantime,
named a committee
composed of Rex C. Jacobs and E. J. Hunt—both of Detroit and both
friends of RFC
Director Walter Dunham—to investigate Lustron management and make
to RFC. 'I have been told,' said Fruehauf, 'that the gist of the
report was that Lustron could be put on a paying basis with proper
the type that Jacobs could provide.'
“In December Fruehauf was informed
'the RFC would have nothing to
do with any Lustron proposal so long as Strandlund remained in control.'
“The Fix – About a month later,
got a call from Paul
Buckley, a Lustron director, saying that the Lustron situation had come
to a crisis and
urging him to come to Washington that day. When he arrived, the same
Buckley told him that there was only one man who could save the Lustron
situation and that was a Washington attorney, Col. Joseph Rosenbaum.
testified that a few minutes later Rosenbaum entered and '...told me
absolutely could save Lustron through his friends at the RFC, Dunham
and Willett (both RFC directors), who he said were 'in his hip pocket.''
“Fruehauf’s counsel warned him that
proposal bore all the earmarks
of the Washington 'fix.' And Fruehauf steered clear.
“Foreclosure – After RFC rejected a
submitted by Lustron in January, 1950, Fruehauf drew up a plan that
remove Strandlund from control of the company. This, it thought,
would meet all known RFC objections to previous plans.
“It didn’t, apparently. On Feb. 14,
day before its
appointment to hear the plan, RFC issued a press release announcing
that the board had
ordered the foreclosure of Lustron.
“'My experience, as you see,' said
Fruehauf, 'lends support to the
complaint that some RFC officials were determined all along to wreck
unless they could get control for their friends.'”
In March of 1951, Fruehauf announced
was going to convert the 800 trailers from the Lustron operation back
enclosed vans in order to recover the $2.5 million loss incurred by
bankruptcy, the news was covered in the October 25, 1950 issue
“Fruehauf’s deal with bankrupt Lustron
also has worked out satisfactorily. When Lustron failed, the
contractor owed Fruehauf $2,500,000. Actually, president Roy points
debt is now 'far less' and 'if the situation should blow up' Fruehauf
dismantle the trailers and realize a tidy sum — 'the fifth wheels'
alone are worth over
In 1949 August’s youngest son, Roy A.
Fruehauf, took over the reins of the family’s business from his older
brother Harvey. As a boy Roy
maneuvered the rigs
around his father’s yard and after college (graduated in 1928), he
the firm’s Detroit service department until 1930 when he transferred to
Chicago branch as a $100-a-month junior salesman. In 1933 he became
sales manager for Fruehauf’s western territories and in 1935 took over
vice-president in charge of the same division. In 1938, he was
named vice-president and director of sales and in 1940, vice-president
charge of operations. In 1944 he became executive vice-president of the
entire operation and early in 1949 its president.
The April 1950 issue of Finance announced
that Fruehauf was entering the mail truck business in a 'big' way:
“Fruehauf Reveals Plans for Truck
Postoffice to Revolutionize U.S. Mail Service
“Cleveland, Ohio, April 27 – Plans for
truck-trailer postoffice, equipped to permit processing of letters and
packages as it rolls
swiftly along the highways, were revealed yesterday at a meeting here
of the Board of
Directors of the Fruehauf Trailer Company.
“Frederick M. Reid, Vice President in
of Engineering, in disclosing plans for the mobile U. S. highway
that Fruehauf's decision to undertake the project was the result of the
action giving increased preference to truck-trailer mail delivery
truck-trailer postoffice, designed to do the job now done by the
car, but designed to do it faster, better and more economically.’”
Roy A. Fruehauf’s marriage to Catherine
Meacham ended in
divorce in 1949 and on June 16, 1950 he
married for a
second time, to Ruth Horn, a secretary with the Burroughs Corp.,
and to the blessed union was born three more children, Royce Horn,
Randall August, and Ruth
In the October 25, 1950 issue of
Readers, Roy A. Fruehauf stated that at the time the firm held “half or
better” of the U.S.
commercial trailer market, and approximately one-third of its sales
“Stainless steel is our No. 1
line. Demand for them has more than tripled this year. Customers who
can’t afford the 5-to-10%
price difference between them and aluminum ask for aluminum. But
stainless steel will last for ten years or more. Just the other day a
had bought two stainless steel trailers from us eleven years ago sold
at a good profit.”
On December 28,
1950 the Associated Press Newswire reported on a 35,000 order from the
“Fruehauf to Make 35,000 Trailers for
Military Use; Oldsmobile to Make Rockets
“Detroit (AP) –Two Michigan
are getting ready today to plunge into military production of 35,000
trailers and an
unannounced number of 3.5 inch bazooka rockets.
“The Fruehauf Trailer Co. of Detroit
Brig-Gen. David J. Crawford of Ordnance tank-automotive center jointly
$40,000,000 order for all-purpose trailers yesterday.
“Fruehauf said the huge trailers his
will build are for all branches of the service. The all-steel cargo
trailers will be used
for transportation of rations, water, personnel, and ammunition, he
The company said it has capacity to take care of both defense and
The December 1951 issue of Sales
noted that the trailer manufacturer's sales in that year reached US
$160 million and
it had 8,500 employees and despite the variety of shapes—platform
trailers for carrying machinery; petroleum, milk and acid tanks;
livestock trailers and dump
units; carryalls, grain trailers, etc. — 61.5% of all the units it
the first half of 1951 were closed vans, easily modified to fit
different needs. Special modifications included an enclosed auto hauler
which, by simple
the second deck, could serve as a dry van for general freight.
The August 2, 1952 issue of the Long Beach
Independent Press-Telegram included a small piece describing the point
when young Roy A. Fruehauf ended his 'lazying around':
“The Turning Point
“ROY FRUEHAUF: he started working
early ...He Helped His Dad
“DETROIT. - To small Roy Fruehauf,
the summer seemed made for lazing around. Like other kids his size, he
wasn't big enough
for baseball, but sometimes he could tag along when the older kids went
was fun. But one evening in June his dad, big August Fruehauf, a
blacksmith, called him over. ‘Son,’ he said, ‘you're old enough to know
that good children
should never be lazy. I want you to come with me and your older
we go to the shop tomorrow morning. You're young, but there's work you
“His Dad's Helper
“That ended Roy's ‘lazing around.’
From then on he worked. Mostly he ran errands, swept the floor and kept
the way of his dad's 12 employees. He worked all that summer at the
blacksmith shop on
dusty Gratiot Ave. And the next summer he worked, too and the next. Roy
interested in the shop. But he got more interested in the big truck-
trailer his dad had invented. By the time he was eight, he was steering
it around the shop
yard. When he was 12, he was so expert that his Dad had him demonstrate
it to prospective buyers. That settled Roy's future. Fascinated by the
Fruehauf works, he stayed on as he grew older-watching and helping the
simple neighborhood smithy grow into an industrial giant. Finally, in
became president of the $200-million corporation. It was, if nothing
else, living proof that old August Fruehauf had been right when he
'Good children should never be lazy.'”
By 1951 Fruehauf was spending $1 million
in advertising, primarily through print advertisements in local
and the national trades. Magazine ads were targeted to specific
at that time Fruehauf display ads could be seen in the following trade
Chain Store Age, Food Engineering,
Provisioner, Quick Frozen Foods, Southern Fisherman; Milk Dealer, Milk
Monthly; National Petroleum News, Petroleum Transportation, Petroleum
Oil, Engineering News Record, Western Construction News, Chemical
Engineering, Lumberman, Timberman, Pacific Factory, Western Industry,
Magazine (furniture), Furniture Warehouseman, Central Co-op
Shipper (livestock) and 560-line insertions in Corn Belt Farm
Dailies; Power Wagon, Transportation Supply News and the Los
Angeles Commercial News.
his 'Along The Highways and Byways of Finance' column New York Times
financial editor Robert E. Fetridge included a short biography of Roy
A. Fruhauf in the paper's November 9, 1952 edition:
“Roy August Fruehauf is the youngest of
brothers, but at 44 he's president of the "General Motors" of the
trailer industry. And he didn't get to the top of the Fruehauf Trailer
because of his family connections. He went through the mill.
“The $161,000,000 unit in the
transportation industry had
its beginning in the last century, when Roy’s father operated first a
blacksmith shop and later a wagon factory. That’s a quick,
explanation of the background of a company whose name appears on more
trucks than any other.
“But it’s not quick definition for big,
energetic Roy. H has
inherited the company responsibilities from his eldest brother with
in 1928, after two years in college, he was pulled into the then
to learn the ropes. Twenty years earlier he had romped through his
plant and learned the principle that a horse, or horse-power, could
bigger load than the animal can carry. Even then he demonstrated the
requires to operate trailers.
“Five Year Apprenticeship
“Drawn away from his schooling to learn
the latest twists in
the trailer business, Roy put in an apprenticeship of five years in the
parts, machine shop and engineering departments before his brother,
chairman of the board, felt that he was sufficiently seasoned to ‘go on
road’ as a salesman – and at $100 a month, no expense account.
“No silver spoon in the mouths of the
Fruehauf boys. They had
to prove their worth to gain a place in business. Roy and his brothers
examples of a business inheritance carried forward with skill and
“Out of the home plant in Detroit – there
are now eight
sprawling factories in strategic locations in the United States and
Canada – he
was farmed out to the sale force and later became western sales
Dynamic, interesting, exciting and friendly, Roy set somewhat of a mark
the depression days and soon ended up a vice president in charge of the
end of the company. Two more steps up the ladder came in fairly rapid
succession and in 1949 he took full charge of the company which has
the trailer industry.
“Disclaims the Credit
“Modest, almost to the point where he only
admits he is a hard
worker, Roy says that ‘certainly nobody could say that I built this
myself. My brother, Harvey, and all the others who have been around the
for years laid the groundwork. The company now has nearly 9,000
employees. I am
trying to keep up with changing conditions.’
“Roy seems to have done very well in
adjusting himself to
changing conditions. Sales of the company in 1940 were $19,512,145.
they totaled $161,612,310.
“His associates say that Roy ‘trails’ no
one in drive, and
those that attempt to keep up with him on a trip to the seven plants
Detroit certainly agree with this observation.”
Alfonso Howard Beaumont Landa, a well-known
had been invited to join the Fruehauf board in 1950 at which time the
leadership was in transition. From 1950 into late 1952 Harvey’s
being slowly eclipsed by that of his younger brother Roy, whose
ideas were widely supported by the other directors. Harvey wanted no
Roy’s forward-thinking schemes and his dissatisfaction came to a head
May 6, 1952 board meeting where Harvey criticized not only Roy, but the
the board for backing him.
Harvey became further enraged when Roy sent
him a letter a couple of days later advising him that now might be a
good time to
retire. Harvey responded by withdrawing from all Fruehauf activities
meetings, despite the fact that he remained Chairman.
At Fruehauf’s May 7, 1953 board meeting
Harvey was unanimously
voted off the board and Roy released the following statement which was
carried in the May 8, 1953 issue of the New York Times:
"Fruehauf Chairman Retiring
"The retirement of Harvey C. Fruehauf,
chairman of the board of the Fruehauf Trailer Company since 1949, was
announced yesterday at the director's meeting following the annual
stockholder's meeting at the Fruehauf Technical Institute in Detroit.
Mr. Fruehauf, who joined the trailer manufacturing concern in 1915 and
served from 1930 to 1949 as president, is retiring because of health.
He will continue to serves as a director and will hold the title of
honorary chairman of the company, Roy Fruehauf, president announced."
During the ensuing months, Harvey became
more and more ‘convinced that he had been treated shabbily’ and in July
of 1953 decided to teach
the Fruehauf board, and his brother in particular, a lesson. The
news came on July 18, 1953 when the Associated Press Newswire carried
the following item:
“Cleveland Navigation Firm Acquires
of Fruehauf Trailers.
“Detroit, July 18 (AP) – The Detroit and
Cleveland Navigation Co. has acquired a major interest in the Fruehauf
Co. in a $3,000,000 stock transfer here. To finance the stock purchase,
J. Kolowich, president of D. & C. sold 85,000 shares of American
Optical Co. stock to Kuhn, Loeb & Co. of New York.”
The $3 million worth of Fruehauf shares had
been acquired from Harvey.
When news of the sale reached Roy, he
enlisted Landa’s help in keeping the disreputable Kolowich off the
Kolowich responded by purchasing additional shares in Fruehauf on the
market, which prompted Landa to take rapid and decisive action to avoid
takeover by the known-corporate raider.
Landa devised a brilliant scheme whereby he
threatened a major Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Co. shareholder,
chairman of the Alleghany Corp., with blowing him in to the Interstate
Commerce Commission (ICC) just as Young was trying to get control of
York Central Railroad. Young ceded to the pressure, selling his shares
and Cleveland Navigation to Landa and Roy Fruehauf, effectively giving
control of the D. & C. Co., the news was publicly announced via the
October 21, 1953 Associated Press Newswire:
“Fruehauf Buys Into D. & C. Co.
“Detroit (AP) – The sale of 65,200 shares
in the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Co. to Roy Fruehauf of
Detroit and several associates was disclosed yesterday.
“Fruehauf, president of the Fruehauf
Trailer Co., said the shares represented a 15 per cent interest. He
said the shares were obtained after direct negotiations with the
Corp., headed by Robert R. Young, chairman of the Chesapeake and Ohio
“The sale followed by four months the
purchase of 130,000 shares of Fruehauf Trailer stock by George J.
Kolowich, D. and C. president. Those shares were sold by Harvey C.
Fruehauf, retired board
chairman of the trailer company, and brother of Roy Fruehauf.
“D. and C. dropped the operation of Great
Lakes freight and passenger ships several years ago. It now holds a
controlling interest in a large midwestern trucking line.”
A chance meeting with Teamster President
Dave Beck helped solidify Roy Fruehauf’s control over the trailer
company. While the two men were in Washington D.C. attending a conference
on easing credit for
the trucking industry (A.C.T. or Advisory Committee to the Trucking
industry) the discussion turned to Fruehauf’s current proxy fight which
was well-known inside the industry.
The discussion turned serious and Beck
offered Fruehauf monetary assistance via a $1.5 million loan from the
Teamster's. Fruehauf put up company stock as collateral for the loan
exercised the stock's voting rights in order to help keep control over
his firm. The deal was first mentioned in
an Associated Press Newswire story dated January 6, 1924:
“Battle Rages For Trailer Firm Control
“DETROIT, Jan. 26-(AP)-A battle for
of the Fruehauf Trailer Co., went on today between Roy Fruehauf,
company head, and
George J. Kolowich, president of the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation
“The Wall Street Journal reported
meanwhile that a third party, the AFL Teamsters union, was accumulating
Teamsters President Dave Beck told the Journal his union was buying up
$1,500,000 worth of
the trailer company's stock.
“The stock, he said, will pay 4 per cent
and be voted at Fruehauf's direction.
“Kolowlch's navigation company, which
formerly ran Great Lakes ships and is now a holding company, owns
130,900 shares of Fruehauf stock—the largest single block.
“Fruehalf's 65,740 shares of stock,
combined with those of ‘associates’ and the voting power from the
union-owned block, give him control over his company. This control is
currently threatened by Kolowich, the
With the financial assistance of the the
and Landa worked overtime to try and wrest control of the Detroit &
Cleveland Navigation Co. from Kolowich. Their toil and trouble was
April 20, 1954 when they successfully won control of the Detroit &
Navigation Co. at their annual shareholders’ meeting, the Associated
Press Newswire reporting on Wednesday, April 21, 1954:
“D&C Navigation Control Shifts;
Fruehauf Group Gets 3 of 5 Board Posts
“Detroit, April 21 (AP) - The Detroit
& Cleveland Navigation Co. may be purposely steered toward
a new group of directors who seized the company helm from Detroit
George J. Kolowich.
“Alfons Landa, Washington attorney and
member of a group which won control of the company Tuesday, said he had
informed stockholders of the intent to dissolve D. & C. and return
estimated $7,000,000 in assets to them. Possible liquidation of
the company was proposed by Mr. Landa when stockholders were asked to
vote against continued Kolowich control.
“‘The company no longer serves any useful
purpose,’ Landa said. ‘It is no longer a navigation company—just a
“A final decision on dissolving the
company, however, would be up to stockholders themselves.
“Mr. Landa is a member of a group headed
by Roy Fruehauf, president of the Fruehauf Trailer Co., which defeated
Kolowich in the annual election of the D. & C. board of directors.
He also is one
of three members the Fruehauf group succeeded in getting elected to the
“The other two members were Myer S. Fine,
head of Associated Theaters of Cleveland, and Eugene H. Freedheim,
director of the DeVorn Manufacturing Corp., Cleveland. Mr. Kolowich and
John A. Hamilton both
“Ouster of Kolowich from control of the
company, onetime operators of Great Lakes excursion vessels, ended a
months-long bitter proxy fight.
“About six months ago Mr. Kolowich
purchased 131,000 shares of Fruehauf stock for D. & C. That was
enough for a
seat on the board of the trailer-making firm. In retaliation Mr.
Fruehauf formed a
group which eventually acquired 77,500 shares of D.& C. stock
and enough proxies to oust Mr. Kolowich.
“Besides losing control of D & C.,
Kolowich lost the voting strength of D. & C. owned Fruehauf stock.
The pro-Fruehauf majority of the D. & C. board will vote it now.”
Control of the Detroit & Cleveland
Navigation Co.’s board brought with it control of the Fruehauf Trailer
Co. as D. &
C. owned a controlling interest in Fruehauf. Just one week later, at
May 2, 1954 annual shareholder’s meeting Roy A.
Fruehauf officially regained control of the trailer company that bore
his name, Time Magazine announced the news in their May 2, 1954 issue
“In a proxy fight for control of a
the embattled management usually considers itself victorious if it
merely beats off
the rebellious stockholders. But in Detroit last week, President Roy
Fruehauf, of Fruehauf Trailer Co., biggest U.S. manufacturer of truck
only routed a rebel but took over the rebel's firm.”
On November 30, 1954 Fruehauf interests
completed the liquidation of the Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Co.,
the Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle Telegram reporting:
“Liquidation Ends Bid For Control Of
“The Fruehauf Trailer Co., which only
recently won the largest single order of trailers in history, yesterday
different victory—liquidation of a firm that had threatened to gain
its stock and management.
“A group headed by Roy Fruehauf,
and Alfons Landa, Fruehauf director and Washington, D. C. attorney,
substantial partial liquidation of Detroit and Cleveland Navigation
Co., whose former president, previously had announced intentions of
the Fruehauf Co.
“The Fruehauf interests captured control
D and C from George J. Kolowich in April, 1954. In July, 1953, Kolowich
purchased $3 million worth of Fruehauf stock and disclosed his effort
“The liquidation action was in fulfillment
of a promise made to D and C stockholders by the Fruehauf-Landa
interests when they
initially sought to get control of D and C.
“This was the second notable achievement
Fruehauf in two months. The trailer concern recently obtained an order
for nearly $35
million worth of truck trailers from a group of 12 midwest trucking
“Most of the vans are being fabricated and
assembled at the Fruehauf Avon Lake plant.”
During 1953 Fruehauf acquired the Brown
Equipment & Manufacturing Co., of Westfield, Mass.,
an eastern producer of aluminum van-type semi-trailers, In 1954 they
purchased the Hobbes
Manufacturing and Hobbes Trailer and Equipment Co. of Fort Worth,
Texas, a manufacturer of flat-bed
tank trailers, and vans. Other mid-50's aquisitions included the Steel
Engineering Co. of Springfield, Ohio, a manufacturer of tank and
aircraft parts, and the Independent Metal Products
Co., of Omaha. Nebraska, a
pioneer manufacturer of tank trailers.
In 1954 the company introduced a longer
trailer, the 35-foot Volume Van, and by 1956 68% of all vans purchased
were of this length.
(Previously, most vans had measured 32 feet; today most new vans are 40
to 45 feet long).
Soon after Roy Fruehauf reacquired control
of the Fruehauf boardroom
in 1954, Teamsters president Dave Beck approached him requesting a
of $200,000. Although the federal government frowned upon such
was so grateful for Beck’s financial assistance that he took a chance
agreed to the loan. Attempting to cover his tracks, Fruehauf
money to Beck via a third party, Burge Seymour, president of the
Transport Co. of New York. Although ‘the loan’ remained undiscovered
for a long
time, it became a big problem for all interested parties on July 3,
1956, the UPI reporting:
“Beck Denies Bribe Charge
“New York (UPI) – Former Teamsters Boss
Dave Beck and two
trucking executives entered innocent pleas yesterday to charges that
$200,000 from them while he was head of the union.
“Federal Judge Gregory F. Noonan dismissed
warrant for Beck’s arrest that was issued Wednesday when Beck failed to
arraignment. Beck’s attorney said there had been a mix-up in dates.
“Beck was released on $2,500 bail. Noonan
said a trial date would be set for Aug. 12.
“Roy Fruehauf, president of the Fruehauf
Trailer Co., was released on $2,500 bail. Burge M. (aka Burt) Seymour,
of the Associated
Transport Co., New York was released in his own custody.
“All three were accused in a federal grand
jury indictment of violating the Taft-Hartley Law when Beck allegedly
money in 1954.”
Shortly thereafter all three men (and Alfons
Landa) were subpoenaed to
the US Senate's Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or
Management Field which was chaired by Senator John L. McClellan and
included such notables as John F. Kennedy, Frank Church, Barry
Goldwater, Joseph McCarthy, and John's younger brother Robert Kennedy,
who served as the government's chief counsel.
Complete transcripts of the hearing are
available online from multiple sources and make for an interesting -
but lengthy read. Between 1957 and 1960 the McClellan Committee's staff
conducted 253 active
investigations, served 8,000 subpoenas for witnesses and documents,
days of hearings, took testimony from 1,526 witnesses (343 of whom
invoked the Fifth
Amendment), and compiled almost 150,000 pages of testimony.
The Committee's first target was the
Teamsters, and Beck's testimony - or lack
thereof, he was one of the 343
– was covered by the Associated Press’ James Marlow in his March 28,
“Marlow Says Beck Has Made Lot Of Noise In
“James Marlow, Associated Press News
“WASHINGTON (AP) -For a man who tried to
make like a clam, Dave
Beck made a lot of noise. He ducked behind the Fifth Amendment to keep
mouth shut but insisted on keeping it open the better part of two days.
“The result: the roundish president of the
Teamsters Union talked
more and said less than any man in recent memory. But, except for
questions about what he wouldn't tell, Beck managed to tell a Senate
investigating committee very little.
“A witness before such a committee can
rightfully use the
Fifth Amendment to refuse answers to questions only if he thinks his
tend to incriminate him. Did Beck think his answers might tend to
“‘Definitely’, he said.
“But where another witness might mumble
shut up, Beck persisted on making a long statement, the same one over
bringing in not only the Fifth Amendment but also the Fourth Amendment
with search and seizure, the first three articles of the Constitution
establish the legislative, executive and judicial branches of
committee's authority, and irrelevancy of the questions it asked.
“Can he get away with his almost blanket
cooperate with the committee which is investigating his handling of
Sen. McClellan (D-Ark), committee chairman, isn't sure and says he will
“A man cited by Congress for contempt in
refusing to answer questions
can, if tried and convicted in federal court, be fined and jailed for a
“Ordinarily a witness using the Fifth
Amendment can't be
cited for contempt. But if he tries to choose what question to answer,
to ignore by using the amendment, ha gets on ticklish ground.
“Beck did not follow his own rule of no
answers 100 per
cent. For example: He volunteered the information his union had
authorized a 1½-million-dollar
loan the Fruehauf Trailer Corp. which he said, paid it back in 14
“But when committee counsel, Robert F.
Kennedy, asked Beck
if he himself had ever received money directly or indirectly from
Beck took the Fifth Amendment. Kennedy then asked this double-barreled
“Was Beck in trouble with the income tax
people in 1954
because he had taken $320,000 from the union in the past? And had Beck
Fruehauf for $200,000 which he turned over to the union? Beck took the
“It is a violation of federal law - the
Taft-Hartley Act - for
an employer to give money to a representative of any of his employees
such a representative to accept money from such an employer.
“There is no such charge against Beck now.
There is no charge
against him by the income tax people. In fact, there is no charge of
against him at the moment. Beck says he'll come out of all this ‘clean
“But McClellan told Beck ‘evidence has
developed that you
have misappropriated funds’ from the union. If so, it would no be a
of any federal law since there is no federal law covering such an
“If there was such an offense and it could
be proved, the
only action which could be taken against Beck would have to come under
law, on some such charge as larceny.”
Roy A. Fruehauf testified on May 13, 1957,
the United Press reporting:
“WASHINGTON, May 13. (U.P.) —Trailer
Roy Fruehauf testified
today that he ‘indirectly’ loaned $175,000 to Teamster Union President
Beck in 1954 when Beck was under tax investigation by the Internal
“But he said he did not know Beck was
and that the reason the labor leader wanted the money was never
denied that he felt in making the loan that Beck's economic power in
to the trucking industry represented ‘a pistol’ at his head.
“He said he aided Beck because the
earlier put up $1,500,000 to help him win a proxy fight in his firm,
Co. Fruehauf made his statements testimony before the Senate labor
committee. He was the day's first witness as the committee resumed its
Beck's forays into business and finance.
“Fruehauf, a heavy-set, dark haired man,
said he first met
Beck about 1950 when they were members of an independent advisory
the trucking industry established after the outbreak of the Korean war.
he said, was chairman of the group which met about once a month.
“Chronologically, Fruehauf said, his
back-and-forth with Beck went this way.
“In 1953 the trailer company's management
was ‘set on by a raider’
who bought a bloc of stock and started trying to depress the company's
as to gain control of more of it, The purchase, by George J. Kolowich,
attracted considerable attention, Fruehauf said.
“At a committee meeting, he said, Beck
asked, “‘why didn't you
call on me?’” Later, he said, he did call Beck and told the labor
wanted him to buy $1,500,000 worth of his own firm's stock ‘in order to
“In September 1953, Beck sent Fred Loomis,
adviser, and Simon Wampold, an attorney, to look into the situation. In
Fruehauf said, the loan was granted after Beck and his aides met with
and his Washington attorney, Alphonse Landa.
“The loan, he said, was made by the
Teamsters Union to the
Roy Fruehauf Foundation, ‘A charitable fund,’ and carried four per cent
interest. The fund, he said, was worth between $65,000 and $100,000 at
“Committee Counsel Robert F. Kennedy asked
Fruehauf whether Beck
asked for ‘any favors’ after the loan was granted. Fruehauf replied,
and explained that the following year Beck asked him for a $200,000
“Fruehauf told Kennedy that Beck's reason
for needing the money
was not discussed. Fruehauf said Wampold explained at one point that
properties which he didn't want to liquidate but did not explain Beck's
for the money.”
Burge M. Seymour’s testimony, which was
given on the same
day, follows courtesy of the Associated Press newswire:
“Hear Beck’s Kin Profited From Sale Of
“WASHINGTON, (AP) - The Senate Rackets
evidence Monday that Dave Beck's relatives and friends made a profit of
$180,000 Celling toy trucks and other merchandise, to the Teamsters
“There also was testimony from Roy
trailer manufacturer, that his company provided an automobile and
haul Beck's niece and three girl friends around Europe last summer.
“The committee was told too that Beck,
of the Teamsters Union, got a $200,000 loan from Detroit industrialists
time when he needed money to cover alleged withdrawals from the union
“This assertion came from Robert F.
counsel, who said the loan was negotiated in 1954 when Beck was being
by federal income tax investigators for an explanation of what he had
money missing from the treasury of the Western Conference of Teamsters.
“Carmine Bellino, the committee's
told the senators the $180,000 profit accrued in 1953 and 1954 to the
Co. He said these men had an interest in the company:
“Dave Beck Jr., Norman Gessert, a relative
of the elder
Beck; Nathan Shefferman, a Chicago labor adviser to employers and a
Beck, and Shefferman's son, Shelton.
“$84,802 Profit On Trucks
“Reading his data into the committee's
record, Bellino said
the men made a profit of $84,802 selling the toy trucks to Teamsters
over the country at from $15 to $30 apiece. The rest of the profit, he
was made selling furniture to the union for its lavish new headquarters
“Bellino said none of the men put up any
money for the toy
truck deal. He reported Associated Transport, Inc., of New York and the
Equipment Co., a subsidiary, furnished $15,000 to get the toys
“Bert M. Seymour, president, of Associated
testified during the hearing that he had been under the impression the
trucks were to be given away free as a stunt to publicize the use of
labels and popularize the use of trucks in interstate freight and local
“May Ask Refund
“Now that he has discovered his firm's,
money was used
to-make a profit for Beck's relatives and friends, Seymour said, he is
attorneys, look, into the situation to see whether legal action can be
for recovery of the $15,000.
“Kennedy called Fruehauf, president of the
Co., to testify about the 1954 loan to Beck.
“Fruehauf said his firm ‘indirectly’
Beck, and that an additional $25,000 was loaned to the union president
Brown Equipment Co.
“It was just before the committee recessed
that Fruehauf told of being asked by Beck to arrange for the car and
for the European trip of Beck's niece and her companions.
“The party was identified in testimony
Gessert, Miss Tobin, Miss Smith and Mrs. Irvine.‘
“Beck Paid Some
“Fruehauf testified the arrangement cost
at least $1,600 and $1,800’ for the gasoline and oil, but that Beck
charges, including the cost of the chauffeur's stay at a hotel.
“After the testimony about the Detroit
Beck repaid it in two payments, the first one for $163,215 on April 11,
Kennedy said this amount was exactly what the union chief received at
from the sale of his palatial Seattle home to the Teamsters Union, Beck
family have continued to occupy the
house, rent free.
“In a Washington dispatch Monday, the
Seattle Times reported
it had learned from an 'unimpeachable source’ that Beck repaid the
Western Conference of
$100,000 on May 1.
“‘The$100,000 payment raises to $370,000
amount Beck has
reimbursed the union since his finances came under investigation,’ the
“Kennedy's Angle Different
“Kennedy furnished the committee with a
different set of figures.
Asked by a committee member what Beck did with the $200,000 Detroit
loan, Kennedy said:
“‘Early in 1954 the Internal Revenue
started an investigation.
At that time, our investigation shows, Beck had taken $320,000 from the
Beck stuck the $200,000 back and said he had just been borrowing money…
would repay the rest. Since that time in 1956, Mr. Beck has paid
$70,000 or perhaps more to the union treasury.”
immediate fallout for Fruehauf and Seymour was shortlived, and their
was never challenged by the committee and Dave Beck declined to seek
re-election as Teamster President and was succeeded by James R. Hoffa.
Although he never specifically served jail time for his dealings with
was later convicted of income tax evasion and sent to jail for 3
years and was eventually pardoned by US President Gerald R. Ford in
1977. Fruehauf and Seymour were far luckier and although they became
well-acquainted with the inside of a courtroom over the next decade,
they both managed to stay out of jail.
In 1955 Fruehauf purchased a controlling
interest in American
Body & Equipment de Mexico, S. A. de C. V. Located in
Col. Aragon, Mexico
City, in 1967 the truck body manufacturer and distributor was renamed
Fruehauf de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.
By 1957 Fruehauf had either established, or acquired a controlling
interest, in 7 more trailer manufacturing operations located outside of
the country. The Strick Trailer Co. of Philcaldephia, Penn. and a
related firm, The Gramm Trailer Co. of Delphos, Ohio were acquired in
1955, the March 19, 1955 issue of the Lima News reporting on the
purchase of the Gramm plant:
“Gramm Confirms Sale of Delphos Plant
“Officials of Gramm Trailer Corp.
today that the
firm's Delphos plant has been sold to the Fruehauf Trailer Co.,
purchase was made from the Lima Realty Co., which had the plant,
approximately 100,000 square feet of floor space, under lease to Gramm.
purchase price was not announced.
“Fruehauf said it will begin manufacturing
Delphos about May 1. The plant is being acquired to provide additional
production capacity and will not replace any existing plants, a
“Leonard Strick, Gramm president,
his company had purchased the former Buckeye Machine Co. plant at E.
Ave. and the B&O tracks and will move all its operations to Lima
The Strick acquisition/merger was announced
on January 10, 1956, the Dow Jones newswire reporting:
“Philadelphia. Jan. 30 — (DJ) Fruehauf
Trailer Co. and
Strick Co. in a joint statement announced that the manufacturing
the Strick Plastics Corp. and the Strick Co. have been acquired by
price was not disclosed.
“‘Plastics is the greatest unexplored
in America's rapidly
growing motor transport industry. It offers tremendous and still
opportunities,’ Roy Fruehauf, president said.
“‘The acquisition of Strick plastics will
together with a company already experimenting in the development of
for use in truck-trailers.’
“‘Within a few years thousands of
truck-trailers on our highways
may be constructed of plastic. The trend is toward the use of lighter
materials in trailer building and continuing experiments may bring this
material to the very forefront of the new manufacturing materials.’
“The Strick Co. was incorporated in 1922
the Lambert Tire
Co. In 1936 the name was changed to the Stick Co. Strick Plastics was
in January 1955 and is engaged in manufacture of plastic panels and
principally for use in trailer bodies.”
On February 2, 1956 Fruehauf announced that
they were constructing
a plant in Atlanta, Georgia, the Lima News reporting:
“Fruehauf Firm To Build Plant In Atlanta
“Fruehauf Trailer Co. will build a new
truck trailer manufacturing plant in the Atlanta area this year. Roy
president, announced today.
“The new plant will be the company's first
in the Atlanta
area, needed to link Fruehauf's coast-to-coast setup of 14 plants,
“The president predicted 1956 sales at
‘above 400 million
dollars,’ for a gain of 70 per cent over the 1953 all-time high of 235
“The company, which has a plant in
two weeks ago
bought two Philadelphia firms from Leonard Strick, president of Gramm
Corp. The firms are the Strick Plastics Co. and Strick Trailer Co.”
The same paper’s March 19, 1956 issue
Fruehauf was also constructing a new trailer plant in Philadelphia:
“Strick To Construct New Trailer Plant
“Strick Trailers, a division of Fruehauf
Trailer Co., will
build a new 200,000 square-foot truck-trailer manufacturing plant in
area this year.
“Increased business of the firm was said
expansion a necessity. Sales during the first two months of 1956 were
double the figures for the same period last year.
“The Strick division and Strick Plastics
Corp. were acquired
by Fruehauf in January. Leonard Strick,
president of Gramm Trailer Corp., was a major stockholder and board
both. Gramm has been in the former Buckeye Machine Co. plant, E.
and the B&O, since last March, when it sold its Delphos plant to
Strick is sole common stock shareholder in Gramm.”
The flurry of acquisitions attracted the
attention of the Federal Trade Commission, the August 27, 1956
Associated Press Newswire announcing that the F.T.C. was formally
charging Fruehauf with violating the anti-merger and
“WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (AP) – The Federal
Trade Commission Sunday
accused the Fruehauf Trailer Co. of Detroit, the world's largest maker
truck-trailers, with violating the antimerger law by acquiring five
competitors or suppliers in the past nine
“Fruehauf also was charged with building a
monopoly power to frustrate the growth or survival of its small
offering its customers special credit deals which rival manufacturers
“Dominant In Industry
“The antimerger count of the two-count
complaint said Fruehauf
had increased its dominance in the industry by mergers that are threat
competition and accordingly violate the Clayton Antirust Act.
“Fruehauf's own share of a market in which
there are about
100 manufacturers is 37 per cent, the FTC said, but with the acquired
it accounts for more than 48 per cent.
“The second count charges that Fruehauf
dominance by offering ‘abnormal financing’ to prospective buyers of its
products through the services of its wholly-owned financing subsidiary,
Trailer Finance Co.
“Various pricing, financing, down payment,
trade-in methods of Fruehauf, including loans made to actual or
were challenged in the complaint.
“The FTC estimated that Fruehauf's sales
1955 totaled more
than 181 million dollars, out of total sales of new trailers amounting
“The companies whose acquisition was
challenged were: Carter
Manufacturing Co., Inc., and Carter, Inc., Memphis, Tenn., producers of
aluminum truck trailer, acquired in 1947. Brown Equipment and
Westfield, Mass., producer of aluminum truck-trailers, acquired in
Manufacturing Co., Fort Worth, Tex., and Hobbs Trailer and Equipment
Dallas, producers of various truck-trailers, acquired last October.
Plastic Corp., Perkasie, Pa., and Strick Corp., Philadelphia, acquired
January. Strick is the third largest manufacturer in the industry and
in aluminum truck trailers. Independent Metal Products Co. Omaha, Neb.,
acquired in April, a former supplier to Fruehauf of tank shells for
“The company was given 30 days in which to
complaint. A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 30 in Detroit before an FTC
Fruehauf answered the charges in a brief
statement that was
carried by the Associated Press newswire on August 30, 1956:
“Detroit, Aug. 30 (AP) – The Fruehauf
Trailer Co. Has denied
Federal Trade Commission charges that its operations lessened
resulted in a monopoly. President Roy Fruehauf said acquisition of five
competitors in the past nine years was not in violation of federal
During the month of September Fruehauf
issued a press release that was
carried by a number of small newspapers as an
“Everybody - in politics at least -
to be the bosom
pal of ‘small business’. The Democrats insist they are, while assailing
Republicans as the party of ‘big business’. The GOP cites, in reply,
benevolence to the small business man through the transformation of the
into the Small Business Administration, and promises in its platform
measures to help small business get started and grow . The Democratic
promises small businesses (among other things) a reformation of the SBA
will ‘render genuine assistance in fulfilling their needs and solving
“What makes all this a little confusing is
the fact that the
Government now has an independent, tax-paying (not tax-consuming)
on the carpet for actually performing what the two parties so loudly
“The Federal Trade Commission is ‘cracking
down’ on the
Fruehauf Trailer Company for the outstanding aid it has rendered
constitute one of-the most typical, and certainly most vital, ‘small
industries of the nation. Specifically, the Government lawyers charge
with violation of the anti-merger law by acquiring five other firms in
transportation equipment industry, and with violation of the Federal
in owning its own finance company and giving its customers more
than they can get elsewhere.
“In his reply to the FTC complaint, Roy
of the company, denies that the acquisition of ‘some of the assets’ of
other companies has lessened competition or resulted in monopoly. In
his company to provide improved products and services, he feels that
have helped in the tremendous growth of the highway transportation
industry — and
hence enlarged competition rather than reduced it.
“This growth, Mr. Fruehauf points out, was
made possible by
time payment terms on equipment, and his finance company supplied
capital to ‘a
multitude of small businesses whose needs could not be supplied by
commercial bank lenders and who could not compete for funds in the
capital market with large corporate borrowers’.
“The company, he says, ‘has done more for
the small business
man in the trucking industry than any other agency devised by private
Governmental initiative’, and adds that its customers are always free
cash or to arrange financing elsewhere.
“Traditionally, the highway transportation
firm begins with
a man and a truck, He prospers as he serves—and expands as he can.
Collectively, he has become a great industry, as evidenced by the fact
we eat, wear or use travels at least part of the way by truck and
To have played a conspicuous role in the development of this universal
to the American people deserves a better reward than a Federal
least, that’s the way we read the party platforms.”
Fruehauf officially answered the suit on
December 20, 1956,
the Associated Press reporting:
“Washington (AP) - The Fruehauf Trailer
one of the
nation's biggest truck-trailer manufacturers, has denied government
that it violated anti-trust laws in acquiring five competitors in the
“The Detroit firm said the acquisitions
in the ‘public interest’
as well as the interests of the firms involved. Fruehauf also claimed
circumstances surrounding each purchase were such as to free them from
“The firm's statements came in an answer
filed with the
Federal Trade Commission in response to an FTC complaint. Fruehauf said
while in some cases it bought up all the assets of a firm, in other
it merely acquired part of their assets.
“The firm denied that it is exercising
powers in the industry to block the growth or survival of small
offering special financing deals. Fruehauf also denied and has denied
government charges that it violated anti-trust laws in acquiring five
competitors in the last nine years.
“Fruehauf also denied an FTC statement
it is the
nation's biggest maker of truck-trailers, it asked that the FTC
“The competitors acquired by Fruehauf and
named in the FTC complaint
“Carter Manufacturing Co. Inc.,
Memphis,Tenn.; Brown Equipment &
Manufacturing Co., Westfield,
Mass.; Hobbs Manufacturing Co., Fort Worth, Tex.; Strick Corp.,
and Independent Metal Products Co., Omaha, Neb.”
In order to better compete in an
increasingly competitive mid-50's
truck-trailer market Fruehauf Trailer Co. instituted a number of cost-cutting
measures during 1956, one of which included a scheme to reduce the
tax burden by lowering the official wholesale prices of Fruehauf
to their distributors.
To make up the difference, Fruehauf would then bill the customer
for 'services,' which were not subject to the excise tax,
such as advertising and record keeping, etc.
According to later court testimony (in 1975) the
scheme originated with Fruehauf vice president William E. Grace (later
Fruehauf chairman) and controller Robert D. Rowan (later Fruehauf
president). Fruehauf's tax attorneys
considered the scheme legal, on the condition that all 'services'
billed were actually
The IRS subsequently issued a regulation
forbidding the exclusion of advertising costs
from a manufacturer’s excise tax base. Fruehauf's tax attorneys came up
with a simple 'work-around' - they simply
changed the word 'advertising' on the invoices to 'printed matter,
catalogues, etc.' believing that they were once again incompliance with
Although the scheme served to increase the firm's profits by a
substantial margin ($12.3 million to be exact) over the next decade, a
1969 IRS audit uncovered the 'irregular accounting methods' and the Department
of Justice brought charges of tax evasion against Fruehauf Corp., Grace and Rowan.
In 1957 Fruehauf entered into a
agreement with the Coleman Engineering Co. of Los Angeles, Calif., to
the Cole-Vac tarmac vacuum, which was first described in the
May 15, 1957 issue of Automotive Industries:
“New Airfield Vacuum Cleaner
“Coleman Engineering Company, Inc., has
announced completion of a license agreement with the Fruehauf Trailer
Co. to manufacture and
sell the Fruehauf Cole-Vac airfield vacuum cleaner. It was indicated
initial manufacture would be done by Fruehauf in its West Coast plant.
“The airfield vacuum was designed
specifically by the Coleman Co. to clean runways for the protection of
Coleman will continue to handle design and engineering work on the
while Fruehauf will be the manufacturer handling sales and
service on a national and international basis. The 28-ft-long Fruehauf
Cole-Vac is mounted on a standard commercial truck chassis and is
powered by a regular truck engine. It can clean at a speed of 25 miles
A separate engine powers the vacuum system.”
Based in Los Angeles, the
Coleman Engineering Co. was a leading defense and aerospace
founded by Theodore C. Coleman. The vacuum was Developed by the Coleman
Engineering Co. under an ARDC (US Air Research and Development Command)
contract, and was covered in greater detail in the a late-1957 issue of
Naval Aviation News:
“Airfield Vacuum Cleaners
“Navy to Purchase for Evaluation
“Under contract with the Air Force ARDC,
AFB., the Coleman Engineering Company designed and built a prototype
airfield vacuum cleaner last year. The design was successful, and the
Company entered into a licensing agreement with the Fruehauf Trailer
manufacture them. The Navy is purchasing a number of Fruehauf Cole-Vacs
evaluation. They consist essentially of a commercial truck chassis on
mounted a vacuum system with provisions for picking up, separating, and
retaining the debris picked up from airfield pavements.
“The Cole-Vac is operated by one
man from a cab high at the rear of the unit. The truck chassis is
facilitate placing the nozzle intake ahead of
the vehicle, and to obtain maneuverability of the nozzle end by use of
rear wheel steering.
“Vacuum is produced by a two-stage
axial-flow fan driven by a gas engine. A major portion of the fan
exhaust is recirculated to the
nozzle area to increase pickup efficiency by air agitation. This
small and large particles assists the suction in the vacuum nozzle in
up all forms of debris ranging from sand to two inch diameter rocks and
inch diameter steel bars three inches long. The Fruehauf Cole-Vac can
at speeds of 25 mph. It was designed to clean up to 1,000,000 square
an hour, and may be the answer to unnecessary damage to jet engines.”
The second pictured of the Cole-Vac appeared
in the January 1958 issue of Flying with the following caption:
“Unless careful, the lady here with the
ordinary household vacuum cleaner is likely to be gobbled up by the
giant vacuum cleaner
bringing up the rear. Behind her is the new Fruehauf Cole-Vac airfield
which, operating at 25 mph, will clean a million square feet an hour of
the debris that
could seriously damage jet plant engines. This particular giant is
in use at Boeing’s transport division field in Renton. Washington.”
In 1957, Fruehauf's Strick Trailer
subsidary partnered with the New York
Central Railroad on an early intermodal transportation system dubbed
the Flexi-Van, the April 2, 1957 issue of the Elyria Chronicle Telegram
“'Flexivan' To Be Built: NYC, Fruehauf
“New York Central Railroad and Fruehauf
Trailer Co. this
morning jointly unveiled a new package form of freight
"Flexi-Van service"—which will involve the production facilities of
Fruehauf s Avon Lake plant
“The demonstration, linking shipping
facilities provided by
the world's largest trailer producer and the nation's second largest
was held in New York City.
“The demonstration heralded a major order
from the NYC to
Fruehauf for production of specially-designed freight carriers
transportation on trailer chassis on highways to ‘piggyback’ operations
railroad flatcars and to ‘fishyback’ operations on barges and other
“The trailer concern's president Roy
Fruehauf, this morning,
said that without a doubt the Avon Lake plant, Fruehauf's largest
will get some of the FlexiVan production work.
“The first order from the railroad may go
high as 1,000
trailers, Fruehauf added, and, if the package freight service proves
successful, future possibilities are unlimited, he said.
“NYC Participation limited
“Up to now the New York Central has
participated little in
the piggyback operations which have been popular with some railroads.
process, loaded trailers, on their chassis, are driven onto railroad
In fishback operations, loaded trailer boxes, without their chassis,
onto barges or other freight vessels.
“The new Flexi-Van, designed by Fruehauf
personnel to meet
exact specifications of the NYC, differs somewhat from the trailer
boxes used in
both other operations, but it may be used, interchangeably on rail,
“Alfred E. Perlman, president of the NYC,
at the first public showing of the revolutionary new universal-purpose
freight carrier at the railroad's yards in New York City.
the Interstate Commerce Commission, public service commissions, Defense
Department, water shipping line officials and important rail shippers
event and later were guests at a luncheon at which Perlman and Fruehauf
among the speakers.
“Strick Trailers, a division of Fruehauf,
truck-trailer which was used for the demonstration.
“New Cars To Be Built
“Perlman announced the railroad plans an
order for a
sizeable fleet of the new trailers to serve key points throughout its
with Flexi-Van service. Although ordinary flatcars may easily be
the service, the Central plans to have lighter weight, lower flatcars
manufactured for use with the new trailer package. The NYC president
railroad hopes to begin operating Flexi-Van service by summer.
"Flexi-Van combines the low cost
transportation with flexibility of truck-highway operation," Perlman
noted. Fruehauf cited the demonstration as a ‘highly significant’
of better transportation facilities.
"The carrying of loaded truck-trailers on
cars exploded into new high level in 1956. The Central's new Flexi-Van
to boost this sensational growth both on the rails and in the
which loaded truck trailers are carried aboard trailer-ships."
Flexi-van required the use of specially constructed rail cars which
were equipped with dual rotating tables, that allowed a teamster to
back up his tractor-trailer at right angles to the rail car whose table
was rotated 90 degrees to accept the first of two Strick cargo
containers. After releasing the locking pins that secured the cargo box
to the trailer, the 40 foot container would then be pushed from the
trailer to the flat car, and the table returned to its normal postion
and locked in place.
Each trailer could accomodate two 40 foot
containers and the dual turntable setup allowed two trailers to be
loaded on or off the flatcar simultaneously, further increasing the
efficiency of the Flexi-Van system. After evaluating a number of
competing systems, New York Central engineers and executives decided to
go with the Felix-Van concept, and on August 6, 1957 the Associated
Press announced that Strick had been awarded an $8 million contract
from the New York Central Railroad:
“NYC Places Order For ‘Piggy-Backs’
“NEW YORK,, Aug. 5 (AP) – The New York
Central Railroad and
its subsidiary, New York Central Transport Co., will place orders this
more than eight million dollars worth of ‘piggyback’ freight equipment,
The railroad is buying 150 specially
designed flatcars, each
capable of carrying two truck vans, from Strick Trailers of
division of Fruehauf Trailer Co. Also to be ordered are truck and
Roy Fruehauf’s questionable exicse tax bookkeeping
scheme helped reduce Fruehauf's debt, Fruehauf's board of directors
brought in Hobbs Trailer Co. executive and shareholder William E. Grace
and resolve the firm's still substantial financial problems.
Grace succeeded where Fruehauf could not,
inventories, cutting expenses, and introducing cost plus accounting
methods, he turned a 1958 loss of
$5.5 million into a 1959 pre-tax profit of $27 million. At the next
board meeting Grace was elected president and
chief executive officer, at which time Roy A. Fruehauf retired,
although he remained as chairman of the board into
Fruehauf's retirement came just as he, former Teamsters president Dave Beck and
Associated Transport preident Burge Seymour
were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in regards to the $200,000 loan
had received from the 2 business men in 1954, the June 17, 1959
“NEW YORK (AP) – Former Teamsters Union
President Dave Beck
and two prominent trucking company executives were indicted by a
jury today for what was termed a mysterious $200,000 payment to Beck in
named with Beck were Roy Fruehauf of Birmingham, Mich., president of
Fruehauf Trailer Co. of Detroit; and Burge Seymour of Litchfield
president of the Associated Transport, Inc., of New York.
“Beck and the others were charged with
violations of Taft-Hartley
Act provisions forbidding a union officer from accepting payments from
management officials, and vice versa.
“Beck still was Teamsters Union president
the time of the
alleged payment. And his union represented employees of the two firms.
“The indictment did not specify the
of the purported
payment and U.S. Atty. S. Hazard Gillespie declined to elaborate.
“Fruehauf and Seymour admitted a payment
the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor
Field on May 13, 1957. They said they made the payment jointly to Beck
on the date
given in the indictment, June 21, 1954.
“The companies also were named as
defendants, along with the
Brown Equipment and Manufacturing Co., a subsidiary of Associated
defendants are scheduled to enter their pleas to the charges on June
convicted, the individuals could receive a maximum sentence of a year
and a $10,000 fine each. Each of the companies could be fined $10,000.”
All three defendants entered not guilty
pleas at the rescheduled
July 2, 1959 hearing, the United Press International newswire reporting:
“NEW YORK (UPI) — Former Teamsters Union
President Dave Beck
pleaded innocent Thursday in federal court where he is accused of
from two truck company executives in violation of the Taft-Hartley Law.
“Beck was released in $2,500 bail. A trial
date will be set
Aug. 12. Roy Fruehauf, president of the Fruchauf Trailer Co. also was
on $2,500 bail, and Burge M. Seymour, president of Associated
was released in his own custody.
“Both Fruehauf and Seymour pleaded
of the charges through
their attorneys. Louis Nizer, representing Fruehauf, said the money
five years ago between his client and Beck was an ‘honest and above
“The loan was at 4 per cent interest and
repaid a year
later, Nizer said.
“A warrant for Beck's arrest was issued
Wednesday by Federal
Judge Gregory F. Noonan when Beck failed to appear for arraignment.
dismissed the warrant Thursday following an explanation from Beck's
there was a mixup in dates.
“The Taft-Hartley Law specifies that no
employer may give
money to a union official who represents his employees. The defendants
receive a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $10,000 fine. The
firms also could he fined $10,000.”
The trial was scheduled for February 18,
1960 and lasted
only a couple of hours, the Associated Press newswire reporting:
“U.S. Court Clears Beck In $200,000 Loan
“NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge Thursday
indictment that accused Dave Beck, retired Teamster union president, of
violating the Taft-Hartley Act by accepting a $200,000 loan in 1954
“Also cleared were two trucking company
officials and three
companies named in the indictment.
“U.S. Dist. Judge Sidney Sugarman upheld
defense attorneys that a Taft-Hartley amendment in 1959 prohibiting
loans of ‘things of value’ between an employer and a union official did
apply to a loan made five years earlier.
“'Pure and Simple'
“The judge said the transaction was ‘pure
and simple, a
loan.’ Besides Beck, the defendants cleared were Burge Seymour,
Associated Transport Inc., New York; Roy Fruehauf, president of
Trailer Co., Detroit; both of these companies, and Brown Equipment
Manufacturing Co., a subsidiary of Associated.
“The judge said the government could
the ruling to
the Supreme Court in 30 days. Justice Department officials in
there will be an appeal ‘on grounds that the court's holding is
court holdings in two previous cases involving the same issue.’”
The US Justice Department made good on their
an appeal on January 11, 1961. That trial commenced on October 1, 1962
Judge Wilfred Feinberg, Chief Justice of the Second Circuit Court of
New York City. All concerned were acquitted once again, The
“Beck Comes Out A Court Winner
“NEW YORK, Nov. 2 (AP) - Dave Beck, the
former laundry truck
driver who was a millionaire by the time he stepped out as head of the
Teamsters union, won another court fight last night.
“A federal court jury acquitted him of
charges that he
illegally borrowed $200,000 from trucking concerns. Acquitted also were
trucking executives and three corporations charged with him as result
“But prison still awaits the 68 year-old
former labor leader
who preceded James R. Hoffa as boss of the vast teamsters organization.
“Beck was temporarily released from a
federal prison near
Seattle to stand trial here.
“The jury, seven men and five women, had
tried to report
itself deadlocked in considering the loan case. U. S. Dist. Judge
sent them back into deliberation, and 45 minutes later the acquittals
“Acquitted with Beck were Roy Fruehauf of
and the firm he formerly headed, Fruehauf Trailer Company of Detroit;
Seymour of Washington, Conn., and the company he heads. Associated
of New York; and the Brown Equipment and Manufacturing company, a
In order to better compete in an
increasingly competitive mid-50's
truck-trailer market Roy Fruehauf instituted a number of cost-cutting
measures, one of which included a scheme to reduce the company’s excise
lowered the price of truck trailers to customers, thereby reducing the
To make up the difference, Fruehauf would then bill the customer
for 'services,' which were not subject ot e the excise tax,
advertising and record keeping, etc. Fruehauf's tax attorneys considered
the scheme legal,
on the condition that all 'services' billed were actually
The IRS subsequently issued a regulation
forbidding the exclusion of
from a manufacturer’s excise tax base, at which time Fruehauf simply
word 'advertising' to 'printed matter, catalogues, etc.' without any
study of the company’s true cost for such
materials. Turned out that decision was a big mistake.
July 6 1960 Delphos Courant:
“DELPHOS INDUSTRY ON PARADE
“Fruehauf, Pioneers In Trailer Making
The Delphos family In 1955
By Northrup Grieve - This week
due Mr. C. F. Mitasik of the Fruehauf Trailer Company for supplying us
with much of
the information for the following article.
"The Customer Is Boss!" This slogan of
Fruehauf Trailer Company has often been used to illustrate the
under which the organization was founded in 1899. Here To Serve
“The story is often told how August
Fruehauf, founder and first president, hammered together in his Detroit
blacksmith shop his
first trailer for Detroit lumber dealer. The dealer wanted to transport
stock in trade with more efficiency and expedition than could he
using the day's horse-drawn dray. Finally, very impressed with the job,
dealer returned to the Fruehauf shop and asked Mr. Fruehauf to build
vehicle for carrying lumber. He agreed and the result was a
platform chassis and stake sides, hard rubber wheels that looked like
sturdy enough for those of a gun carriage. The original trailer rests
the engineering-research department of Fruehauf Company — a proud
30+ years of continuous use and a reminder of a famous company slogan
occasionally used yet today — ‘A horse-can pull more than it can carry.’
The Delphos branch, one of sixteen
operation today under the Fruehauf Company banner, was established at
the site of the
Old Gramm Trailer Company in May, 1955. Besides the plant here,
parts bearing the Fruehauf name are made at Avon Lake near Cleveland in
world's largest trailer plant; in Detroit, the main branch and
Fort Wayne, Indiana where stainless steel products are made; one in
two in Philadelphia and one in Perkasie.
“No one need do without Fruehauf
“In Canada there is the Fruehauf
Company of Canada, Ltd. with its own plant in Toronto, Ontario and with
throughout that country. Making Fruehauf truly international are
Trailers S. A. Industria Commercio, Sao Paulo, Brazil and Fruehauf, S.
A. Auxerre, France. The company also has negotiations with the
countries — plus 78 distributors in other foreign countries. With this
the company may assert: ‘Fruehauf leads the world in trailer
sales and service.’
“Various types of trailers ranging
livestock trailers, flats carryalls, various tank trailers and bulk
haul trailers for
transporting cement, grain, etc., to military transport equipment are
in Fruehauf plants throughout the world.
“Military Equipment A Specialty
“Here at Delphos Fruehauf manufactures
combination of products. Commercial trailers are produced as well as
equipment for military customers, consisting of tank and missile
many other items. Refrigerated commercial products are also a specialty
Fruehauf Trailers here has a payroll of 220, six of which are employed
administrative offices. All of its buildings are housed primarily under
one roof with
the exception of the paint shop which is a separate building. The
has an overall coverage of 34 acres together with 150,000 sq. ft. of
space available for manufacturing. Twelve foremen oversee plant
Raw materials used at the plant here include plywood and plastics that
used for insulating our foamed-in-place refrigerated trailers.
“Fruehauf is on the spot metal
both fabricated and assembled in the Delphos plant for customers and
also are made into
various types of trailers.
“Steps Toward Progress
“Fruehauf, sales wise, is progressing
annually. Sales are tallied on a 0-month basis and in the past six
months, the Delphos
plant alone has produced a volume business which netted approximately
Most Fruehauf products are subject to export.
“It is a world-wide sales organization
which Delphos plant has a share. However, only commercial products are
here. Methods of transportation used are rail and the Fruehauf
System. The Fruehauf family doesn't as yet have a pension retirement
the company has a profit-sharing plan for its supervising and
The Delphos plant has recently expanded its internal facilities and the
amount of $100,000 was allotted to set up materials here. In the past
Fruehauf spent $30,000 for machine equipment for Delphos. The first
phases of a
2-year maintenance program for roof repairs will be begun the last two
in July. For the fall, the company is anticipating a new heating system
will be changed over to a gas infinite type heating.
“According to Mr. C. F. Mitasik, the
plant is capable of growth and expansion which is subject of course to
prosperity of the times. He further stated: ‘If I can personally make
it come true, I
will.’ Thus we salute the youngest member of the Delphos family of
Fruehauf Trailer Company.”
Under Grace’s leadership, the Fruehauf
Trailer Company continued to expand and diversify. In order to reflect
interests, the company changed its name in 1963 to the Fruehauf
in 1964 Fruehauf announced its “total transportation” philosophy,
seeking to participate in businesses covering all phases of the
industry. To that end, it acquired the Magor Railcar Company of New
1964, expanded into manufacturing cargo containers, as well as cranes
other unloading equipment for ships. In 1968 Fruehauf acquired the
Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Baltimore and the following year
took over the Jacksonville Shipyards in Florida.
Between 1960 and 1970, Fruehauf France
developed its position on the home market using a network of branch
offices and sales
outlets, while Fruehauf International developed in Europe.
Fruehauf’s overseas operations were
controlled by a wholly-owned subsidiary, Fruehauf International
Limited. FIL owned a
one-third interest in Crane Fruehauf Ltd., its British affiliate.
In 1961 Fruehauf International Ltd.
Crane Fruehauf Ltd., in partnership with Cranes (Dereham) Ltd., the
latter firm being
manufacturers of the world’s largest trailers and Fruehauf being the
largest manufacturer of trailers. The August 25, 1961 issue of The
Commercial Motor reported on the merger:
“GUY CRANE, the administrative
Cranes (Dereham), Ltd., is endeavouring to ensure that, before long,
his company will
become one of the acknowledged leaders of the world trailer industry.
already been announced that Cranes have formed a new company jointly
International, Ltd., a subsidiary of Fruehauf Trailer Company, of
Michigan, U.S.A., to build and sell semi-trailers. A much bigger
trailers will be carried out, both at Dereham and in a substantial new
being built at North Walsham, a Norfolk town near the present
the firm. The new company, Crane Fruehauf Trailers. Ltd., will, it is
build up to employ a considerable labour force.
“I asked Guy Crane, young for his 53
thickset, and with a restless energy, to tell me how and why this
merger had been
achieved. 'My father, who built the business, died in May. 1960,' he
'Until the last few years of his life he ruled it — and my brother and
as well. About five years ago he had talks in Paris with a Fruehauf
executive. We had for some time known that this large U.S. trailer
interested in setting up in Great Britain.'
“'For many reasons we decided to go in
them. They have very considerable reserves and have a wide field of
the international trailer business. But it is no one-sided bargain. We
much experience to exchange with Fruehauf.'
“Guy Crane told me this with some
diffidence. He obviously did not want to take too personal a credit in
a business which had,
until the past few years, been controlled by his father and which, in
he manages jointly with his brother, sales director John Crane. John
skilled engineer with a Cambridge engineering degree, is no less than
younger than his brother, Guy.
“The Crane engineering business grew
of a Norfolk
village blacksmith's shop, opened by Guy, and John Crane's grandfather
century ago. The smith's younger son, W. F. Crane, became a qualified
and, in 1913, set up an agricultural engineering business at Dereham.
It was after
the 1914-18 war, influenced by contact with R. A. Dyson, of Liverpool,
Cranes began to build trailers.
“It was in 1929, when Guy Crane first
joined the firm, that
it produced its first trailer for Pickfords, capable of taking 100-ton
It seemed the ultimate in trailer production. Now some are twice as big
limiting factor is not the building of the trailers, but road
“W. F. Crane chose a public school for
but later submitted him to a considerable contrast. Guy Crane, at 17,
engineering training at a steel foundry in Fifeshire, living with a
and his family. It proved also to be an introduction to Left Wing
'It has not made me a lifelong Socialist,' says Guy Crane with a smile,
'but I think it has helped me to understand and appreciate the
men who do the work.'
“He then went for a year to Dennis
Guildford, and for two more years to the Pickfords repair depot, to
foundry at Birmingham, who manufacture the famous Radiation gas stoves,
a small factory making axles. Then, following office experience with
Guy Crane might have been thought ready to join the family firm to
train for an
executive position. First, however, came 12 months of world travel as
clerk with the Blue Funnel Line.
“The place that W. F. Crane occupied
illustrated by the
fact that his office at the Dereham works remains just as he left it,
furniture and general air of austerity characterize the man and his
success in his chosen industry.
“'I would not call myself a practical
says Guy Crane. 'I have a considerable knowledge of engineering — how
it be otherwise after 32 years here. I much prefer to call myself an
“'I can take but little credit for the
fact that we
make some of the biggest and best trailers in the world. They are built
patents which we hold and the credit for the Crane technical prowess
our chief designer and technical director, Mr. W. D. Chaplin.'
“'I spend my time looking after our
administration, policy, planning and purchasing. I have a keen interest
promotional activities, particularly in my liaison with our advertising
and public relations consultants. I also have an eye to all financial
but I have had to learn to delegate and to use the keen minds around me
best advantage for us all. Cranes now have a most excellent team of
directors and executives, who contribute greatly towards our success.'
“Thirty years ago, the firm employed
this has increased tenfold. Much of this progress has been in the last
six years and
never have men been stood off for lack of work.
“Guy Crane lives with his wife and
a former rectory in a Norfolk village. He has three children: a
a diploma course, a daughter of 12 at boarding school, and a son who is
at an agricultural college. When he can get away from the cares of
loves to sail his 20-ft. cruiser on the Norfolk rivers and Broads. He
hand at oil painting, and he explores churches and country inns.
“But his ability to relax away from
office is going to
be severely limited during the next few months. Like his father before
will want to supervise everything that has to be done and, further,
it is well done before Crane Fruehauf Trailers, Ltd., begin production
Walsham next year. C.M.H.”
The obituary column of the April 30,
issue of the Holland Evening
Sentinel (Holland, Michigan) reported the passing of Harry R. Fruehauf:
“Harry Fruehauf, 65, Died Following
“Detroit - Harry Fruehauf, first vice
president of Fruehauf
Trailer Co., died Sunday at Harper Hospital following an operation. He
Fruehauf, who was associated with the trailer company which bears his
name for 50 years, had been a director of the firm since 1918. He is
by a son, Harry Jr., who is manager of the Fruehauf branch in Detroit.”
Roy A. Freuhauf passed away on October 30,
1965, his obituary was carried in the following day's New York Times:
“Roy A. Fruehauf Dies At Age of 57;
Trailer Company’s Ex-Head
Figured in Rackets Inquiry
“Special to The New York Times; November
“Royal Oak, Mich., Oct 31 – Roy August
board chairman of the Fruehauf Trailer Company, died late yesterday in
Beaumont Hospital in this Detroit suburb, he was 57.
“Mr. Fruehauf had collapsed at his home in
Township. Death was attributed to a cerebral hemorrhage.
“Started as Errand Boy
“Roy Fruehauf hitched his success in the
trailer business to
more than his father’s name. He learned about trailers in the days when
were horse-drawn; he drove early motorized models around the country to
buyers and worked his way up until he had supervised every operation of
“From running errands in his father’s
blacksmith shop and
wagon factory on a small dirt road in Detorit before World War I, Mr.
rose to a position where he could be accused of arranging an illegal
load to Dave Beck, then president of the International Brotherhood of
“He was indicted and finally acquitted.
But the revelations
at the Senate inquiry put him under a cloud that was never fully
“Under pressure from stockholders, Mr.
Fruehauf resigned as
chairman in 1962. He retained his position as a director until 1961,
withdrew from the company completely. He had no formal tie to the
$300 million manufacturing concern at his death.
“The youngest of four brothers, Mr.
Fruehauf was born in
Frazer, Mich., in 1908. He was 6 when his father, August Charles
built his first trailer. In 1923 Roy left Detroit for Principia College
Elsah, Ill., but left four years later, shortly before he was to
“Knew Every Nut and Bolt
“From then on, Mr. Fruehauf was in the
trailer business to
stay. Working in a now-expanded company, he learned, as he once said,
nut and bolt that went into the trailers.’
“He used demonstrations to sell his
product. Once he drove a
trailer to Iowa to interest a potential buyer; and a favorite trick of
to drive the huge machine to the edge of Chicago docks to probe their
“Promoted from salesman to sales manager,
he opened the West
to trailers. He was made vice-president of Western sales, sales
then operations vice president. By 1949 Mr. Fruehauf was president of
“With his brothers all around him in what
was largely a
family business, Mr. Fruehauf supplied his biggest market in a
“‘During World War II’, a contemporary
stated, ‘Fruehauf made everything for the Army and Navy from front-line
hospitals to portable command posts and searchlight carriers.
model for the Government: a truck post office.
“By 1953, the company was filling about 55
per cent of the
nation’s demand for trailers and was doing an annual business of $161
“What happened in 1954 was something that
spent five years investigating.
“Senate rackets investigators contended in
1957 that three years
earlier Dave Beck had extracted favors from Mr. Fruehauf in return for
deeds his teamsters had done for the trailer giant.
“The favor Mr. Fruehauf Mr. Fruehauf was
accused of granting
was the arranging of a $200,000 loan to Mr. Beck. Where
the money was to have gone was not
brought out at the inquiry. But any loan, the Government contended, was
under the section of the Taft-Hartley Act prohibiting the passage of
between union and employer.
“In addition, Mr. Fruehauf confirmed that
he had put a car
and chauffeur at Mr. Beck’s disposal and arranged for him to join a
women in Europe for six weeks; that he had provided the union leader
private plane on occasion, and had arranged for the purchase of a boat
“The inquiry dragged on. In 1959, Mr.
Fruehauf, two other
men and three companies were indicted for violating the labor act. But
the indictment was dismissed by a Federal judge. An appeal by the
was turned down in 1962.
“However, outraged stockholders forced Mr.
Fruehauf out soon
“He is survived by his widow, the former
Ruth Horn; four
children, Ruth Ann, Royce, Randall and Rohn, and a brother, Harvey.
“His marriage to Catherine Meacham ended
in divorce in 1949.
They had four children.”
One month later, Roy's oldest brother Andrew
passed, the New York Times reporting:
“Andrew Fruehauf, Publisher fo the Detroit
“Detroit, Dec. 5 (AP) - Andrew F.
Fruehauf, owner and publisher of The Detroit Tribune and one of the
sons of August C. Fruehauf, founder of the Fruehauf
Trailer Company, died today at the age of 74.
“Mr. Fruehauf died in is aprtment at the
“A younger brother, Roy A. Fruehauf,
former president and chairman of the $300 million trailer company, died
last Oct. 30.
“Andrew Fruehauf, a World War I veteran,
was active in the civil rights movement and was the holder of an
honrary doctorate in humanities from Howard University. He had been
publisher of The Tribune for 10 years. The newspaper circulates mainly
in Detroit's Negro community.
“Surviviors incldued a brother, Harvey of
Miami Beach, Fla.”
On February 16, 1966 The FTC ordered
Fruehauf to divest itself of its Strick Trailer subsidiary, the
Associated Press reporting:
“WASHINGTON (AP) – Obeying a court order,
the Federal Trade
Commission Tuesday directed the Fruehauf Corp., Detroit, Mich., to
itself within one year of its Strick trailers division which it
“An FTC directive forbids Fruehauf from
acquiring any other
manufacturer of truck trailers for 10 years without commission
“Last May, the commission ordered Fruehauf
to divest itself of
Strick plus the Hobbs Manufacturing Co., Fort Worth, Tex. and Hobbs
Equipment Co., Dallas, Tex.
“Fruehauf in August asked the court to set
“Subsequently, the commission and Fruehauf
agreed upon a plan
of divestiture which permitted the company to retain Hobbs but imposed
10-year ban on future acquisitions.
“The court of appeals for the 7th circuit
agreement last month and Tuesday's commission action carries it out.”
January of 1966 Fruehauf sold Strick Trailer and it's associated firms
to an investor group headed by Sol Katz for $39 million, and on Sept
15, 1966, the Katz group resold it to the New York Central Railroad,
The Associated Press reporting:
“New York, (AP) — The New York Central
plans to enter the
highway-trailer manufacturing field through the acquisition of the
Corporation. Central's directors approved yesterday an agreement in
acquire all the capital stock and warrants of Strick for a maximum
price of $31
“Strick manufactures vans, trailers and
containers, and has headquarters
in Fairless Hills, Pa.
“Fruehauf Sells Interest
“The Central would be completing the deal
that the late
Robert R. Young had endeavored to make while chairman in 1957. Sol
president of Strick, said then that Mr. Young's offer had come too
Strick already had become a division of the Fruehauf Corporation.
“Last January, Fruehauf sold Strick's
to the management group headed by Mr. Katz. In a share exchange in
Fruehauf paid the equivalent of $15-million for Strick.
“In the Central deal, the acquisition will
affiliates, the Strick Finance Company, the Lamicor Plastics division,
International division, the Rental division and several sales and
“Has Three Plants
“Strick has plants in Fairless Hills and
Willow Grove, Pa., and
in Chicago, III. The acquisition would be made through the Merchants
Transportation Corporation, a Central subsidiary, which is engaged in
leasing and private carline operations.
“The Central said that the price agreed
was $15 million to
be paid upon closing before the year-end and a contingent amount of up
to $16 million,
payable during the years 1970 through 1974 on a formula based on a
Strick earnings above a given level.”
During the late 1960s the US restricted
trade with the People’s Republic of China under its ‘Trading with the
legislation. Fruehauf France, S.A., a company two-thirds owned by
International, entered into a contract with Berliet, a French truck
supply trailers for export to China. The US Treasury department
however a French court ruled in Berliet’s favor, the US Treasury Dept.
the objection and Fruehauf France S.A.’s contract with Berliet was
Harvey C. Fruehauf suffered a severe heart
on October 14, 1968 and passed away at the age of 74, the October 15,
1968 edition of the New York Times reporting:
“H. C. Fruehauf, Trailer Builder;
Innovator Who Left
Industry in 1953 Is Dead at 74
“Detroit, Oct. 14 (AP) – Harvey C.
Fruehauf, who was responsible
for the transformation of a family blacksmith shop into the giant
Trailer Company, died in his Detroit apartment today. He was 74 years
“Mr. Fruehauf was one of four sons of
August Fruehauf, who founded
the company in 1916. The younger Fruehauf retired as board chairman in
severed all connections before it diversified and became known as the
“Mr. Fruehauf, who joined his father in
the blacksmith shop
shortly after graduating from high school in Detroit, foresaw that the
of the fledgling automobile industry would doom the blacksmith
business. So he
convinced the elder Fruehauf that they should enter some aspect of the
“The trailer business started when a
Detroit lumber merchant
asked the Fruehaufs to design a piece of equipment to pull a boat
Model T Ford. The merchant was so impressed with the result that he
commissioned the Fruehaufs to build a similar rig to haul lumber.
“The father and son formally entered the
trailer business in
1916. By 1918, the company’s capital had grown from $500 to $108,000
Fruehaufs began to look beyond their specialty of trailers for grocers,
and lumber concerns. In the 1920’s, the
company began producing a variety of trailers for long distance hauling.
“From the 1920’s until 1949, Mr. Fruehauf
served as the
company’s president, succeeding his father. In 1949 he became chairman
board. He resigned in 1953 as a result of a dispute with his brother
had succeeded him as president.
“At that time the company was filling
about 55 per cent of the
nation’s demand for trailers in an annual business of $161 million.
“In recent years Mr. Fruehauf managed
extensive oil and
cattle investments in the Southwest.
“Survivors include his widow, Angela: a
son, two daughters
and four grandchildren.”
On September 1, 1967 Crane Fruehauf
Ltd. acquired Boden Trailers Ltd. and in 1977 Fruehauf International
Limited acquired a majority
interest in Crane Fruehauf Ltd., its one-third owned British affiliate.
In 1975 Dublin, Ireland - based Dennison
Ltd. sold its
trailer business to Crane Fruehauf Ltd., further solidifying Fruehauf's
toehold on the British semi-trailer market.
After IRS reviews in 1969, the
Justice brought charges of tax evasion against Fruehauf and accused its
officers, William E. Grace and Robert D. Rowan, of criminal tax fraud, the
Associated Press newswire reporting on November 12, 1970:
“Fruehauf Accused of $12 Million Excise
“DETROIT (AP) — A federal grand jury has
indicted the Fruehauf
Corporation and two of its top executives on charges of conspiring to
payment of more than $12 million in excise taxes.
“Named in the indictment, which was
Fruehauf President W. E. Grace and the executive vice president for
“The case involves a dispute between
Fruehauf and tax
officials over methods of calculating excise taxes on semitrailers sold
company. In question are $12,344,587 in taxes allegedly withheld
between Oct. 1,
1956 and Dec. 1, 1965.
“U.S. attorney Ralph A. Guy said
on the charge carries
a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine each for
Rowan. Guy said conviction would add considerable interest and
penalties to the
tax the company would have to pay.
“The two men have called the conspiracy
charge ‘baseless and
unfounded.’ The company said the disputed method of computing taxes was
before Grace and Rowan assumed their present posts.”
and Rowan maintained that since Fruehauf’s excise tax plan had been
legal by company
accountants and lawyers, they had no reason not to continue the plan
and the two Fruehauf executives plead not guilt on December 15, 1970,
the UPI reporting:
“Detroit – (UPI) – Fruehauf Corp., and two
of its top
executives were arraigned in U.S. District Court here Monday on federal
conspiracy charges which allege that the company tried to evade payment
$12 million in excise taxes over a nine-year period.
“A plea of not guilty was entered by
Barnett on behalf of the company, William E. Grace, its president and
executive officer, and Robert D. Rowan, executive vice president.
“Grace and Rowan were released on $5,000
personal bond each
by Federal Judge Damon J. Keith. No trial date was set.
“The case concerns a dispute between
manufactures truck trailers and containers, and the government as to
correct method of calculating the company’s manufacturers excise taxes
October, 1956 and December, 1965.”
During the decade clouded by the tax
case, the company continued its policy of expansion. Most significant
was its 1973
acquisition of the Kelsey-Hayes Company, a leading supplier of wheels,
automotive components. Fruehauf went on to acquire subsidiaries of
thus providing it with holdings in Australia, Japan, Europe, South
and South Africa.
Fruehauf’s attorneys and government
prosecutors spent the
next three years preparing each side of the case and after numerous
motions the case went to trial on October 29, 1974. Additional motions
delays followed and the first official news appeared on February 13,
1975, the United
Press International newswire reporting:
“Fruehauf Tax Charges Stand
“Detroit (UPI) – A federal court judge has
denied a motion
to dismiss unprecedented criminal tax charges against Fruehauf Corp.,
largest manufacturer of truck trailers, and its two top officers.
“At the same time, Judge Thomas P.
delayed the next
hearing in the lengthy and complicated case until next Tuesday.
“Thornton’s ruling Tuesday was the latest
development in the
trial that began Oct. 29 with the government charging the company, its
president and its financial vice president with conspiracy to evade
million in excise taxes.”
Fruehauf’s attorneys chose to progress
a jury putting
the responsibility for the decision on Federal Judge Thomas B.
motions followed, but after four months of testimony Judge Thornton
verdict to the court on July 17, 1975, United Press International
“DETROIT (UPI) – Lawyers for Fruehauf
the nation’s largest
builder of truck trailers, say they will appeal a conspiracy conviction
from a scheme that lasted nine years and cheated the government of
million in federal excise taxes.
“Found guilty in federal court Thursday
itself and its two chief executives, chairman William E. Grace, 67, and
president Robert D. Rowan, 52.
“U.S. attorneys said it was the largest
tax fraud case
in the history of the Justice Department.
“Lawyers for Fruehauf announced they would
seek a new trial
within minutes of the verdict by Federal Judge Thomas B. Thornton, who
the four-month case and reviewed more than 6,000 pages of testimony
announcing his decision.
“His ruling makes the company liable for
back taxes, interest
and fines that could total $60 million. In addition, Grace and Rowan
receive term s of five years in prison each plus $10,000 fines.
“Fruehauf has 18 plants and 80 branches in
the United States
plus operations in Brazil, South Africa and Europe. A company official
that regardless of the outcome of the appeal, it will not affect
or its $1 billion plus assets.
“An investigation into alleged tax
in a federal grand jury indictment in late 1970, alleging that Grace,
two employees who w ere not indicted but named as co-conspirators
elaborate and fake invoicing system to evade excise taxes.
“Through the system, the government said,
the company understated
its taxes by $12.3 million between Oct. 1, 1956, and Dec. 31, 1965.
“After the verdict, Grace and Rowan were
and freed on bond. They made no comment on the case.”
Fruehauf attorneys immediately requested a
new trial, a
motion that was ultimately denied, and on June 16, 1976 they announced
further delay the case on June 16, 1976, United Press International
“Fruehauf in Court Appeal
“Detroit, June 16 (UPI) – The Fruehauf
today plans to appeal a court ruling denying the corporation a new
trail in a $50
million excise tax fraud case. Fruehauf, former chairman William E.
former president Robert D. Rowan were found guilty July 17, 1975, of
to defraud the Government of $12 million in excise taxes and assessed
million in penalties.”
The new motion was denied and two week later
Judge Thomas P.
Thornton handed down his sentence, the Associated Press reporting:
“Detroit, June 30 (AP) - Two top
of a leading
truck-trailer manufacturer were sentenced to prison terms today on
conspiring to evade paying more than $12.3 million in Federal excise
by the corporation.
“The Fruehauf Corporation’s board
68 years old, and its president, Robert Rowan, 53, were sentenced to
and a day in jail. They and Fruehauf were also fined $10,000 each by
States District Court Judge Thomas Thornton.
“The men, who were released on $5,000
“The officers were convicted in July 1975,
five years after an
indictment was returned by a Federal Grand Jury in Detroit.
“According to the indictment, the men
payment of the excise
taxes in two ways. Under one method of pricing to distributors, they
decreased the price of the truck trailers upon which excise tax was to
They billed the distributors for ‘non-existent services’ that were not
to excise tax.
“Secondly the indictment said, the men had
tire manufacturers for an inflated purchase price for tires. The
allegedly claimed a tax credit on the higher price, and the corporation
received a cash rebate from the manufacturer.”
Despite the conviction and sentencing the
executives remained free one year later pending an appeal of the
remained confident that they would never see jail time in an article
the Associated Press newswire on May 6, 1977:
“Fruehauf Execs Mum On Future
“DETROIT (AP)-— The two top officers of
Fruehauf Corp. are
refusing to say whether they'll resign if their convictions for
evade taxes are upheld.
“‘I'm not going to lose. That's something
don't have to
worry about,’ said Chairman William Grace after the annual meeting
“The president and chief executive
said. ‘I haven't given it any thought. It's just too far down the road.’
“He added, ‘We know that we did nothing
wrong, and that's
the important thing.’
“The two executives of the truck body
with the corporation itself, were convicted in U.S. District Court here
two years ago of conspiring to evade $12 million in federal excise
case has been appealed to the U.S. Circuit court of Appeals in
Cincinnati and a
decision could come in the fall.
“The corporation and the two men were
$10,000 and the
two men also were sentenced to six months in prison.
“The Internal Revenue Service may lodge
claims of back
taxes, penalties and interest of $60 million in the case, according to
Fruehauf's proxy statement. While declining to give their own estimate,
and Rowan said $60 million was too high.
"When this thing is finally resolved, the
not be material." Grace said.
“Shareholders asked no questions about the
tax case or a
1974 Federal Trade Commission challenge to Fruehauf's acquisition of
Kelsey-Hayes Co., an automotive parts supplier.
“Rowan predicted record earnings would
continue this year.
Last year's profits were up 92 per cent to $48.3 million.”
For the next year Fruehauf attorneys
continued the appeal
process, which was presented to the Supreme Court in November of 1978.
highest court declined to hear the case and the two men resigned from
board immediately afterwards, the November 20, 1978 issue of the New
“2 Convicted Top Officers Resign Posts at
“The top two officers of the Fruehauf
Corporation, who were
convicted in 1975 of defrauding the Government of $12.3 million in
taxes, resigned last week. William E. Grace, chairman, and Robert D.
president and chief executive officer, submitted their resignations to
company's board two weeks after the
United States Supreme Court refused to grant a hearing on an appeal of
“The board named Walker C. Cisler as
Frank P. Coyer Jr. as acting president and chief executive officer pf
manufacturer of truck trailers and auto parts. Mr. Coyer is a corporate
president, board member and chief financial officer of Fruehauf. Mr.
a former chairman of Fruehauf and of the Detroit Edison Company. They
expected to serve only until the Fruehauf board can elect a permanent
and president and chief executive officer.
“At the time of the convictions in July,
1975, Judge Thomas
P. Thornton of the United States District Court said in Detroit that
company and its two principal officers were guilty of conspiracy to
excise taxes or a 10-year period starting in late 1956. The government
that the Fruehauf officers had tried to evade taxes by employing
pricing and accounting procedures that included nonexistent
“A year after the convictions, Judge
Thornton sentenced Mr.
Grace, 70 years old, and Mr. Rowan, 56, to six months in prison and
each $10,000. They had been free on bail since. When the Fruehauf board
accepted the two men’s resignations as officers, it granted them leave
absence as employees ‘until further action of the board.’
“Fruehauf attorneys said they would apply
but conceded that the Supreme Court seldom granted another hearing.”
Further motions by Fruehauf attorneys got
the executives' sentences
reduced to community service, and the April 15, 1979 issue of the New
Times reported they both men were being reinstated to the Fruehauf
“Since last fall, Robert D. Rowan, the
former president and
chief executive officer of the Fruehauf Corporation, has been
alcoholics and drug addicts who want jobs. His full-time social work
reduced to 10 hours per week next month, and last week the Fruehauf
after a five-month investigation, said it would reinstate both Mr.
William E. Grace, the former chairman, subject to shareholder approval.
“The two were found guilty in 1975 of
defrauding the Federal
Government of $12.3 million in excise taxes. The original sentence, a
fine and six months in prison, was later reduced to the social work and
and Mr. Rowan, 56 years ….. Addiction Center in Detroit. Mr. Grace, who
went to Whitney, Tex., to an agricultural school he founded.
“The reinstatement would bring back Mr.
Grace, who is in ill
health, back to Fruehauf as chairman of the executive committee, a
position he requested. Walker L. Cisler, who is 81 years old, would
acting chairman, a spokesman said, ‘pending further restructuring,’
P. Coyer Jr., the acting president, would have to return to his
position as vice
president – finance.”
The May 8, 1981 issue of the New York Times
reported that two
years later Rowan was still at the helm:
“Business People; Fruehauf Realigns Top
“The Fruehauf Corporation, the big
of truck trailers, realigned its top management yesterday, elevating
Coyer Jr. to the new post of vice chairman and Thomas J. Reghanti to
and chief operating officer. It said the changes were made to help the
maximize its growth potential.
“The promotion for Mr. Coyer, 61 years
who had been
executive vice president for finance and administration, represents a
back up the Fruehauf ladder after his brief stint several years ago,
unusual circumstances, as the company's acting president. The
Reghanti previously was executive vice president for trailer operations.
“Robert D. Rowan, 59, continues as
executive officer; he had been Fruehauf's president. Mr. Rowan became a
controversial figure when he and the chairman at that time, William E.
were convicted in 1975 of defrauding the Government of $12.3 million in
taxes. The two top Fruehauf officers submitted their resignations in
1978, after the United States Supreme Court refused to hear their
appeal of the
convictions. They were ordered to pay fines of $10,000 and serve six
jail. Subsequently, the prison sentences were reduced to five months of
full-time social work and a year of part-time work.
“As a result of those resignations, Mr.
Coyer was named
acting president pending the selection of a permanent substitute.
an unforeseen turn, however, when, in the spring of 1979, Mr. Coyer was
reinstated to his former post after a five-month investigation of him
board. His social work - counseling reformed alcoholics and drug
addicts - had
been reduced by then to just 10 hours a week. Mr. Grace was also
a non-management capacity.
“Fruehauf had a rough year in 1980, when
earnings tumbled to
$32.2 million, or $2.63 a share, from $88.7 million, or $7.28 a share
The company blamed the sluggish automotive and truck trailer markets
Over the years, Fruehauf had developed a
nationwide network of more than a hundred service centers for its
customers. It also
developed the popular Model F Plus line, including closed dry freight
top units, trailers for railroad piggybacking, and warehouseman models.
In 1980 the
company introduced the Spacelite Refrigerated Van line for perishable
which significantly improved thermal efficiency for the industry.
Fruehauf’s performance in the 1980’s was
inconsistent, at times depressed by down-swings in the market, at
bolstered by favorable changes in legislation. 1982 was a particularly
bad year with
overall losses of $30.4 million. However, the Transportation Act of
manufacturers to build larger trailers, resulting in a substantial
orders for Fruehauf.
Improved sales both at home and abroad, and
measures, gave the company an $8.4 million profit in 1983. Revenues
further enhanced by the deregulation of the industry. Many carriers
consolidated, and this resulted in new customers for the company.
During the 1984 record-breaking year in the U.S. transportation supply
Fruehauf received more orders than any of its competitors.
But after 1984 the industry experienced
Sales were off 8% to $2.6 billion, earnings dropped 26% to $118
the company developed cash flow problems.
On May 1, 1986, Asher Edelman made an offer
to buy Fruehauf.
During the previous few months the former arbitrager-turned corporate
had purchased 5% of Fruehauf’s stock on the open market. He announced
proposal in a letter to the Robert D. Rowan and the Fruehauf board, at
time the offer was flatly rejected. Edelman proceeded to purchase
shares and by the time of Fruehauf’s annual stockholders meeting in
had bid Fruehauf’s stock up to $42. At the meeting he announced his own
of directors offering $44 a share to all interested parties.
Edelman was rebuffed once again and on
August 22, 1986 he dropped
his takeover bid and sold his shares to a group led by Rowan and a
Fruehauf executives backed by Merrill, Lynch & Co., profiting a
$30 million in the process.
The takeover attempt proved costly to
Fruehauf who, now
saddled with a $1.4 billion debt to Merrill, Lynch, began selling off
jewels of the firm, which included its profitable financing operation
In an April 1998 interview with Forbes
Magazine, Wabash National’s
Donald J. (aka Jerry) Ehrlich explained the folly of Fruehauf’s
“Fruehauf had been able to keep its
factories going at a
certain level simply by building trailers for its own rental company.
rental company gone, suddenly Fruehauf’s volume dropped. Then fleet
started to say to themselves, ‘If I have to come up with my own
buy Fruehauf?’ By then Fruehauf was making a commodity trailer not that
from anyone else’s.”
Fruehauf also settled its decades-long issue
Service on August 25, 1987, when they agreed to a
million payment, the New York Times reporting:
“Fruehauf Corp., Detroit, said it had
to settle a
dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over its excise tax liability
October 1956 to 1965. Fruehauf agreed to an assessment of about $6.8
additional excise tax for that period, as well as a penalty of some
million and interest of about $9.9 million, for a total of $20.1
As market share plummeted, Robert D. Rowan
was held responsible
and he was forced out as Fruehauf chairman in 1988. In 1989 the
still-floundering Fruehauf sold off the bulk of their trailer
operations to the Terex Corp., the March 29, 1989 issue of the New York
“The Fruehauf Corporation said today that
had signed an
agreement to sell its troubled trailer-truck and marine services
the Terex Corporation for about $232.5 million. Most of the assets are
trailer manufacturing business, the world's largest, with sales of $887
last year. Terex, which has grown through acquisitions over six years
heavy-duty hauling equipment, had worldwide sales of $343 million last
“Under the deal, Terex will pay Fruehauf
million in cash and assume $63.1 million in long-term debt. The
they expected the deal to close within six weeks, with a final
the purchase price to compensate for changes in asset values.
“Fruehauf's class B shares jumped 50 cents
today, to $2.75
each, on the New York Stock Exchange, where the 22.2 percent gain was
largest of the day. Terex is a private company based in Green Bay, Wis.
“Fruehauf has been under pressure recently
to sell its
assets since the company saddled itself with $1.5 billion in debt in
ward off a hostile bid by Asher B. Edelman, the New York financier. The
has since sold properties worth about $850 million.”
Now a shell of its former self, Fruehauf
began selling off
what remaining assets it had, its Canadian operations were acquired by
Trailmobile Canada and most of its overseas interests (Fruehauf
Assets) went to a group of investors who reorganized it as FIL Partners.
By 1996 Fruehauf owned little more than its
brand name, two antiquated
trailer plants and a network of 33 sales and service centers. Fruehauf
Trailer Corp. filed a voluntary
chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Oct. 7, 1996, their share in
market having fallen from 40% just one decade before to a paltry 4% at
of the filing.
Fruehauf’s court-appointed receiver, Chriss
a deal with the semi-trailer business’ rising star, Wabash National for
their assets-in-bankruptcy and on March 15, 1997 Wabash National
announced it was planning
the bulk of Fruehauf’s assets for $49 million in order to acquire its
name and 31 retail outlets, the New York Times reporting:
“The Wabash National Corporation, the
largest United States
maker of truck trailers, said yesterday that it had agreed to acquire
retail network and other assets of the rival Fruehauf Trailer
about $49 million. Fruehauf filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
October. The sale must be approved by the bankruptcy court. Wabash will
million in cash, $17.6 million of a new issue of convertible preferred
and one million shares of its stock, which rose 50 cents yesterday, to
on the New York Stock Exchange. The acquisition includes Fruehauf's
distribution network; a trailer plant in Huntsville, Tenn., and the
trade name in North America. It excludes plants in Mexico and Fort
Fruehauf issued the following statement on
March 18, 1997:
“Fruehauf Trailer Corp. today
has accepted the bid of Wabash National Corp. (NYSE:WNC) to purchase
substantially all the remaining operating assets
of Fruehauf other than the company's interest in its Mexican
subsidiary, Fruehauf de Mexico.
“The bid, revised from the previously
includes the company's Fort Madison, Iowa, trailer manufacturing plant
valued at approximately $52 million. The bid also includes the Sales
Distribution business consisting of 31 retail outlets, the aftermarket
distribution business based in Grove City, Ohio, the Scott County,
specialty trailer manufacturing operation and the Fruehauf name. The
is subject to the approval of the Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.
hearing to consider approval is scheduled for Thursday, March 20, 1997.
“Commenting on the sale to Wabash
National, Derek L. Nagle,
president of Fruehauf, stated, 'The combination of Wabash National's
leading fleet market share and Fruehauf's extensive distribution
capabilities is expected to positively impact our combined businesses.
service and used trailer revenues generated through the retail
network have historically been a large component of Fruehauf's
revenues. The used trailers generated by Wabash National's large fleet
together with the combination of the aftermarket parts businesses,
opportunity to further leverage the retail distribution network. In
introduction of Wabash National's refrigerated van trailers allows us
the new product offerings through the sales and service centers.'
“Fruehauf Trailer Corp. filed a
chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Oct. 7, 1996, and currently
its business as a debtor in possession. Fruehauf is a manufacturer of
trailers, producing, marketing and servicing the industry's widest
range of dry
freight van, platform, dump and liquid and dry bulk tank trailers.
largest suppliers of trailer parts in North America, Fruehauf products
throughout the truck trailer industry's largest company-owned dealer
authorized independent dealer network in North America.”
The bankruptcy did not affect the
Assets of Fruehauf Trailer Company which had been spun off earlier and
reorganized as FIL
Partners. Headed by William H. Robb
(president from 1996–2006), FIL Partners (FIL), became the one of the
of tractor trailers in Europe, Japan, Africa and Argentina,
than $1.4 billion in annual revenue. Prior to the formation of FIL
Mr. Robb served as VP Corporate Development for Fruehauf Trailer
President of Fruehauf International, Ltd.
Although their British subsidiary,
Crane-Fruehauf Ltd., was
sold off to General Trailers in 1997 (becoming bankrupt in 2005), FIL
maintains licensing agreements in Australia/New Zealand, Brazil,
Korea, as well as for manufacturing joint ventures in China and France.
to the formation of FIL partners, Mr. Robb served as VP Corporate
for Fruehauf Trailer Company and President of Fruehauf International,
more recent times the former Fruehauf factory at 10940
Harper Ave., Detroit,
was the home of the Detroit branch of National Semi-Trailer
Corp., a trailer
leasing firm headquartered in Taylor, Michigan. Today the Harper Ave.
facility is the home to PVS Chemicals, a Detroit-based manufacturer,
marketer, distributor and transporter of industrial chemicals.
Theobald for Coachbuilt.com with special thanks to Ruth
In addition to her website, www.singingwheels.com, Roy
Fruehauf's daughter Ruth
Ann, is preparing a book in conjunction with researcher Darlene
Norman that will detail the entire history of the firm.
Additionally, Harvey C. Fruehauf's son
(Harvey C. Fruehauf Jr.) commissioned corporate biographer Kathi Ann Brown
to research and write his biography: No Ceiling on Effort: The Harvey
C. Fruehauf Story which was piublished in 2011.
Appendix 1 Fruehauf Patents:
US1313087 – Landing Gear - Filed Feb
1919 - Issued Aug 12, 1919 to Ernest F. Hartwick assigned to Fruehauf
US1351245 –Fifth Wheel - Filed Dec
- Issued Aug
31, 1920 to Ernest F. Hartwick assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US1568560 – Semitrailer - Filed Feb
- Issued Jan
5, 1926 to Charles H. Land Jr. (assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co. on Nov
1928 as USRE17132).
US1540502 – Removable drawbar for
Filed Mar 27,
1924 - Issued Jun 2, 1925 to Harvey C. Fruehauf and Charles L.
to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US1611947 – Semi-trailer and support -
Filed Jul 9, 1926 -
Issued Dec 28, 1926 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer
US1613728 – Trailer - Filed Mar 12,
Issued Jan 11,
1927 to Harvey C. Fruehauf and Charles L. Schneider
US1637456 – Steering Gear for trailers
Filed Nov 4, 1925
- Issued Aug 2, 1927 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer
US1640217 – Running gear structure for
vehicles - Filed Dec
3, 1926 - Issued Aug 23, 1927 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to
US1673846 - Vehicle for transporting
loads - Filed
Jun 23, 1926 - Issued Jun 19, 1928 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to
US1681433 – Vehicle Spring Suspension
Filed Aug 14, 1925
- Issued Aug 21, 1928 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US1724364 – Side dump vehicle - Filed
15, 1927 -
Issued Aug 13, 1929 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer
US1742413 – Pole trailer – Filed Feb.
1927 – Issued Jan
7, 1930 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
USRE17132 – Semitrailer - Filed Feb
- Issued Nov
13, 1928 to Charles H. Land assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US1770572 – Semitrailer support -
5, 1927 -
Issued Jul 15, 1930 to Harvey C. Fruehauf and Frederick M. Reid
Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US1842050 – Vehicle brake - Filed Jan
1928 - Issued
Jan 19, 1932 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US1850531 – Trailer vehicle - Filed
1923 - Issued Mar
22, 1932 to A. Benjamin Cadman assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US1877052 – Vehicle running gear -
Nov 3, 1930 -
Issued Sep 13, 1932 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer
US1877970 – Tandem wheel construction
Filed Mar 12, 1930
- Issued Sep 20, 1932 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US1892004 – Tractor trailer
Filed Nov 13,
1930 - Issued Dec 27, 1932 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US1898854 – Semitrailer frame
Filed Mar 15,
1930 - Issued Feb 21, 1933 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US1903136 – Radius rod and axle
- Filed Dec
31, 1926 - Issued Mar 28, 1933 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to
US1910181 – Vehicle brake - Filed Nov
1930 - Issued
May 23, 1933 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US1922395 – Tractor semitrailer -
29, 1932 -
Issued Aug 15, 1933 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer
US1958926 – Transportation of
Filed Feb 2, 1934
- Issued May 15, 1934 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US2022869 – Vehicle body - Filed Mar
1934 - Issued Dec
3, 1935 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
USD107699 – Design for a trailer
Filed Nov 1,
1937 - Issued Dec 28, 1937 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
USD107700 – Design for a trailer
Filed Nov 1,
1937 - Issued Dec 28, 1937 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
USD107701 – Design for a trailer
Filed Nov 1,
1937 - Issued Dec 28, 1937 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US2120509 – Locking device for
- Filed May 14,
1937 - Issued Jun 14, 1938 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US2169500 – Tank vehicle - Filed Jul
1938 - Issued Aug
15, 1939 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2232187 – Supporting leg structure
Filed May 27, 1940 - Issued Feb 18, 1941 to Frederick M. Reid
Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2256328 - Semitrailer supporting
- Filed May 3,
1940 - Issued Sep 16, 1941 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US2260641 – Tractor trailer brake
- Filed Feb 27,
1941 - Issued Oct 28, 1941 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US2274503 – Brake drum - Filed Feb 3,
- Issued Feb
24, 1942 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2311252 – Vehicle undercarriage and
mechanism - Filed Jul 31, 1941 - Issued Feb 16, 1943 to Frederick M.
to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2318802 – Trailer vehicle - Filed
1941 - Issued
May 11, 1943 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2353267 – Fifth wheel construction -
Filed May 14, 1943 -
Issued Jul 11, 1944 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer
US2384965 – Vehicle body construction
Filed Mar 13, 1944
- Issued Sep 18, 1945 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf
US2407345 – Spring suspension - Filed
9, 1944 - Issued
Sep 10, 1946 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2433158 – Vehicle body - Filed Jan
1945 - Issued Dec
23, 1947 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2443478 – Vehicle body - Filed Mar
1945 - Issued Jun
15, 1948 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer Co.
US2398248 – Heavy duty vehicle -
14, 1945 -
Issued Apr 9, 1946 to Frederick M. Reid assigned to Fruehauf Trailer