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Published February 13 2010

Pulling its own weight: Fargo trailer manufacturer keeps growing

Precision Equipment Manufacturing hasn’t hit any home runs, but the singles, doubles and an occasional triple are adding up, Bill Adams said.

“We haven’t had that one big success – the home run – yet, but we’re making steady gains,” said Adams, operations manager of the company at 2719 40th Ave. N. in Fargo.

The company, which has about two dozen employees, makes trailers for the agricultural, housing and aggregate industries. Aggregates are materials such as sand and gravel used in construction.

Most of the Fargo company’s products, sold through a dealer network, cost $18,000 to $50,000.

Locally owned Precision Equipment Manufacturing opened in 2001 and did custom manufacturing.

The next year, the company began producing roll-off trailers. Items on the trailer roll off its back end.

The trailer has won customers in the housing industry across the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, Adams said.

“People here in Fargo may not have heard of us. But there are people in Houston or New York who know who we are,” he said.

The company later introduced trailers for agriculture.

Farms keep getting bigger, increasing the need to transport more grain over longer distances, Adams said.

The rising popularity of corn in the region has also helped Precision Equipment Manufacturing.

North Dakota farmers last year planted 1.95 million acres of corn, up from 880,000 acres in 2001, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.

On average in the state, corn yields about 3½ more bushels per acre than wheat and soybeans. So more corn acres mean greater demand for trucking capacity.

“Corn has been big for us,” Adams said.

The Fargo company listens carefully to the concerns of farmers and other customers, he said.

“They need to be happy.”

Midwest Truck Equipment in West Fargo handles Precision Equipment Manufacturing products.

“It’s a good, sound company” that values innovation and responds to what the customer wants, said Bucky Lerfald, owner of Midwest Truck Equipment.

Precision Manufacturing Equipment most recently added its “belly dump” trailers for the aggregate market.

Response has been good, Adams said.

The company will continue to explore opportunities to introduce new products, he said.

Precision Manufacturing Equipment also continues to do custom work.

The national housing slump has hurt sales in that segment of the company’s product line, Adams said.

Nationwide, 2009 starts of single-family homes fell to 444,000, the lowest on record, dating to 1959, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

But relatively healthy demand for other Precisions Manufacturing Equipment products has helped to offset that, Adams said.

For instance, strong ag prices bolstered farm profits in 2007 and 2008, boosting sales in the company’s agricultural line.

“So when one of our product lines is down, we hope something can pick up,” he said.

A red-hot product that generates sizzling sales would be nice, but not essential, Adams said.

“For us, it’s about steady growth, steady gains.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530