To say that Thursday was a big day for Mitchell-based Trail-Eze might be an understatement.
"A lot bigger than what we normally do," said Shawn Murtha, the company's sales manager. "This is big business for us."
The trailer manufacturing company built its largest product in the company's 50-plus-year history, sending the first of five custom-built skid structures out the door. It measures 70 feet in length and 10 feet wide, while most trailers Trail-Eze builds are 48 or 53 feet long.
The skid was built for a Florida-based company that builds oil industry equipment, and has the capacity to hold up to 150,000 pounds and weighs 36,600 pounds on its own.
While the company has its own 15-ton hoist system at its facility along Interstate 90, Dick's Towing, of Mitchell, was hired to help Trail-Eze move the skid off a temporary truck and onto the long-haul trailer that will take it to Florida.
A skid is a load deck that commonly would form the base of a Trail-Eze trailer but will have equipment permanently mounted to it in this format. On Thursday, the skid was loaded onto a trailer and will be driven more than 1,800 miles to Pompano Beach, Florida, where Advanced Petro Technologies will then affix its equipment to it.
A normal-sized deck for Trail-Eze is 25 to 27 feet, Murtha said, so to build something that is almost three times that size is daunting but a challenge the company was eager to meet.
"We didn't have the ability to cut some of the thick steels that we are used to using, so that had to be outsourced," Murtha said. "This is actually allowing us to upgrade our flame-cut torches and our high-definition torches to allow us to cut thicker steel."
The trailer was being built for Florida-based Advanced Petro Technologies, which is using the skid structure to build a water remediation product known as a direct contact thermal distillation, or DCTD, for a water treatment program. The company says it can take in 315,000 gallons of contaminated water a day and clean to drinking-water levels. That equipment will go to oil patches around the nation and the world, Murtha said.
Murtha said the long-term plan is for Trail-Eze to build and design goose-neck structures to connect on each end of the skid and then have a jeep vehicle for the front and a dolly on the rear to make it transportable. For now, Advanced Petro Technologies will transport the skids on a larger trailers.
"There's a lot of demand involved," Murtha said.
Advanced Petro Technologies CEO Jim Juranitch said this week that it has contracted orders to build another 77 skids for the water remediation structures. He said that Trail-Eze has helped solve technical issues and worked well with his firm from an engineering to help make the work go smoothly. Murtha said provided things go well, they'd love to have the chance to keep building the skids. Two more of Trail-Eze's skids are expected to be shipped out by the end of next week.
Murtha said there is a lot of pride in the project, given how much work goes into each trailer locally from engineering to manufacturing. Sixty-five of the company's 130 employees are based in Mitchell, with Trail-Eze also manufacturing trailers at facilities in Corsica and Platte.
"We're very proud to be building something like this," he said. "For small town Mitchell, South Dakota, this is a big product. ... We're happy to be doing it."