Hungry for Change

All throughout the campaign season, it was clear that Americans were looking for change. With Bernie Sanders attempting to secure the Democratic Party nomination, and Donald Trump, from the Republican Party, the undertone of both their campaigns was that our country was hungry for change. And change is what we got!

Donald Trump will be our first President that has never previously held an elected office. That alone would seem to signal that things will be different in Washington DC. Trump supported some fairly hard-edged positions on trade, immigration, and other hot issues during his campaign. However, it already appears that some moderation will be used in making the changes voters asked for.

Over the past 8 years, the businesses of a number of Stellar’s customers have been negatively affected by federal regulations. We hope to see some of these damaging regulations overturned or moderated so that these vital industries can once again thrive for their owners and employees.

No matter what is acted upon first, or how it is addressed, the first 12 months of the Trump presidency will definitely be interesting for all.

Management’s Role in an ESOP Company

Stellar Industries is fortunate to be a successful ESOP company. When I say successful, I mean successful in a number of ways. We are successful in being a profitable company that consistently brings positive returns to our shareholders. However this quality should be present in any well run company. At Stellar Industries, I feel the success we have achieved in educating every employee of the importance of being an owner is our real success.

When every employee understands the importance of working together to minimize mistakes and maximize quality all while working to maintain a safe environment, management of the enterprise takes on a different role. Management’s role at Stellar Industries is one of reinforcing the benefits of ownership through the ESOP and emphasizing the positive outcomes that come from a positive workforce.

We have a great crew here at Stellar. That’s what makes us the successful company that we have become and validates our advertising tagline of “Our People, Our Products”.

Transitions

January 1, 2016 will be a big day in the history of Stellar Industries, Inc. On that day, we will officially christen the former Kiefer Manufacturing facility in Kanawha as Stellar Industries – Kanawha. Not only will we be adding a great factory to produce our Stellar-branded products, but we will be welcoming a large number of former Kiefer employees to join the Stellar Industries, Inc. team.

Stellar Industries, Inc. finalized our purchase of the assets of the former Kiefer Built, LLC in March of 2011. Over the nearly five years of Stellar ownership, many changes were implemented at the Kiefer facilities in both Kanawha and in Sneedville, TN. Unfortunately, the substantial investments in new production equipment, designs, and people could not save the legendary Kiefer line of trailers. In the last year, it became evident that success in the design and building of cranes, hooklifts, and service bodies does not automatically translate into success in the trailer industry. The decision was made to close the Sneedville facility and exit the horse and livestock trailer business.

But that is not the end of this story. In Sneedville, Kiefer is an important employer. With the help of the Hancock County Mayor, Thomas Harrison, and a successful local businessman, David Greene, a proposal was made to Stellar to purchase the assets of the discontinued horse and livestock trailer lines and assume the factory in Sneedville. We will close on the sale of these assets to the Greene family on 12/31/2015.

Kiefer Built was founded by an entrepreneur, Arden Kiefer, in the early 1970s. Under Arden’s daily presence and stewardship, his company grew quickly and flourished. His untimely death in the 1990s lead to the company changing ownership numerous times over the next 20 years. With the purchase of the horse and livestock lines by the Greene family, ownership is getting back into the hands of a true entrepreneur that will be able to devote full attention to rebuilding the storied Kiefer trailer name. All of us at Stellar Industries, Inc. wish our former co-workers in Sneedville and the Greene family many successes as they take control of the Kiefer line of trailers.

Listen…Apply…Repeat

We at Stellar Industries, Inc. have developed a strong reputation as a company that is constantly forging ahead with innovative new products for our customers. Examples of this are the CDTplus™ crane controller system, the T-Max™ series of mechanic service bodies, and our recently introduced chassis specific tire service bodies build around the new Ford Transit. These products are important to us at Stellar as they allow us to continue to grow our company by reaching into new markets and new users for our products. With this success we are enjoying, I get asked “How do you do it?” by people in our industries and in our local communities.

I don’t want to get in trouble for giving away company secrets, but it’s really quite simple. 1) We listen to our customers as they describe their day-to-day challenges , 2) We apply our knowledge, design, and manufacturing expertise to develop a solution to our customer’s dilemmas, and 3) We repeat steps #1 and #2. That may be over simplifying things a bit, but it really is that simple. With the strong team of professionals we have here at Stellar Industries, this is an everyday occurrence for us. The Stellar recipe for success is not as simple as this recipe, but it is definitely a recipe that comes naturally to our experienced staff.

Best Week of the Year!

I always look forward to this time of year. You could say it is because winter is winding down (apparently this year is an exception!) or because college basketball is entering their tournament stage (Go Cyclones & Panthers!!) or because the days are getting longer (Hello Mr. Sun!!!). All these things make me look forward to the first week of March. But the number one reason I look forward to this time of year is the National Truck Equipment Association’s Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.

Stellar Industries has been a member of the NTEA since the first days of our company. NTEA staff have been instrumental in assisting us understand the federal and state regulations under which our products must be designed and built in order to legally to run down our highways. The NTEA also provides a critical resource for us through which we reach our markets. All of our best distributors are long time members of the NTEA. But the most important benefit of being an NTEA member and attending the annual Work Truck show are the people with whom we come in contact.

As we have done for 12 straight years, Stellar will once again host a distributor breakfast the morning before the show opens. This provides us an opportunity to speak with our attending distributors on a one-on-one basis before the hectic pace of the week really picks up. This breakfast meeting also allows us to have our distributors’ undivided attention for 90 minutes to review with them those features of our products and our company that make us the best in our respective market segments. As we have done for every one of these meetings in the past, we will once again be introducing exciting new and improved Stellar products to them at this meeting. It is a great way to kick off the week.

The Work Truck Show is the one annual event where we have the opportunity to renew old friendships with those within our industry that we have worked with, or worked against, for our entire careers. The exhibit hall is always impressive with the millions of dollars of shiny trucks and truck equipment, but it is the people you meet that make the week special. Spending a week in Indianapolis in winter doesn’t sound appealing to a lot of people, but the days always go by too quickly for me.