Great Dane - Steel Products Company - 1900-present - Savannah, Georgia

    Great Dane – Savannah, Georgia 1900-present.  Formed in 1900 as the Savannah Blowpipe Company to make sheet metal dust and chip collection systems for sawmills and furniture factories. By 1912 they began to fabricate light structural steel and steel plate products. Trailer production began in 1930 and in 1931 the firm was incorporated as the Steel Products Co. and trailer production was undertaken in earnest. They soon bought out the maker of Great Dane trailers which was located in Greenville, South Carolina to get the services of their brilliant designer. The first Great Dane’s made in Georgia were single axle, 16-20 foot long flatbeds, with tankers and vans added in 1934. They also pioneered the refrigerated trailer with a wet ice bunker and electric blower in 1931. The cooling apparatus soon became enclosed in aerodynamic bodies now referred to as reefers. By 1938 their new stressed skin construction offered haulers the first truly modern enclosed trailer, a fundamental design change that revolutionized the trailer industry. During WWII, they produced over 12,000 trailers for the war effort. By 1953 aluminum bodied reefers were in great demand and trailers accounted for the majority of their business. In 1958 Steel Products finally changed it name to Great Dane Trailers Inc. and made the final steps towards all-aluminum trailer construction while phasing out their structural steel products at the same time. Great Dane entered into the burgeoning shipping container manufacturing business in 1961 with a line of piggy-back trailers. In 1972 Great Dane purchased Arrow Trailers in Memphis, Tennessee in order to acquire a second manufacturing facility, and a third plant was built in Brazil, Indiana to better serve their mid-west customers. They purchased the Wayne, Nebraska trailer plant from their competitor, Timpte in 1988, and also purchased the Super Seal reefer products company. A new plant opened in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1996 and in 1997 they merged with Pines Trailers a Chicago-based company founded in 1950, to create the world’s largest trailer manufacturing company. Pines Trailer, a family-owned private company, was a smaller trailer manufacturer with plants in Kewanee, Ill., and Greenville, Miss. Late in 2001, they purchased The Danville, P.A. and Abbeville, S.C. plants of Strick Trailer Corporation.


Like the Mississippi Delta, Great Dane's Greenville Plant has seen its share of changes over the years. The plant opened for production in 1970. Just two years later, it was purchased in 1972 by John Theurer and was operated as Theurer Inc. until 1990. Pines Trailer, now part of the Great Dane Trailers family, purchased the facility and began operating in January of that year.

Currently, the plant specializes in building fleet order vans. Specifically, Great Dane has arguably built more trailers for retail giant Wal-Mart than any other trailer manufacturing facility, with more than 10,000 produced at the Greenville location alone.



For more information please read:

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Tad Burness - American Truck Spotter's Guide, 1920-1970

Tad Burness - American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide, 1920-1985

Robert M Roll - American trucking: A seventy-five year odyssey

David Jacobs - American Trucks: A photographic essay of American Trucks and Trucking

David Jacobs - American Trucks: More Colour Photographs of Truck & Trucking

John Gunnell - American Work Trucks: A Pictorial History of Commercial Trucks 1900-1994

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Ronald G. Adams - 100 Years of Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Big Rigs: The Complete History of the American Semi Truck

Stan Holtzman & Jeremy Harris Lipschultz - Classic American Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Semi Truck Color History

Donald F. Wood - American Beer Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Beverage Trucks: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - Commercial Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Delivery Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Dump Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Gas & Oil Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Logging Trucks 1915 Through 1970: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - New Car Carriers 1910-1998 Photo Album

Donald F. Wood - RVs & Campers 1900-2000: An Illustrated History

Donald F. Wood - Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Impressive International Trucks 1907-1947

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Keen Kenworth Trucks - 1915-1955

Richard J. Copello - American Car Haulers

Niels Jansen - Pictorial History of American Trucks

John B. Montville - Refuse Trucks: Photo Archive

Bill Rhodes - Circus and Carnival Trucks 1941-2000: Photo Archive

Howard L. Applegate - Coca-Cola: Its Vehicles in Photographs 1930 Through 1969: Photo Archive

James T. Lenzke & Karen E. O'Brien - Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks: 1896-2000

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Don Bunn - Dodge Trucks

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

Don Bunn - Encyclopedia of Chevrolet Trucks


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