Four Generations & Still Trucking

Rogers Brothers Corporation
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

The year 1905 was a landmark one. Albert Einstein unveiled what became known as his Theory of Relativity, which changed the course of the world. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published The Return of Sherlock Holmes to appease a public still disappointed by the fictional death of his detective a dozen years earlier.

And in America, Rogers Brothers Corporation was founded.

A part of North America’s manufacturing history, the company that began 117 years ago is stronger than ever. Today one of the premier trailer manufacturers in the United States, Rogers Brothers’ early days saw the company involved in projects such as bridges and steel structures.

This changed with the First World War in 1914, with the company taking on troop carriers, and again in World War II when Rogers Brothers focused on tank retriever trailers, earning an award for employee performance and wartime dedication.

Over a century of experience
Over a century after it was established, Rogers Brothers Corporation remains a trusted, fully family-owned and managed business with a staff of about 45. Today, the company is owned by the third and fourth generations of the family: Larry Kulyk and his children, Jay Kulyk, as President, Nick Kulyk, as Vice President and Shop Supervisor, and Beth Hough, as Corporate Secretary.

Larry Kulyk, President of Rogers Brothers Corporation from 1989 to 1994, serves as the company’s Chair of the Board of Directors and Corporate Treasurer.

“He’s the last member of the third generation active in the business and still is an integral part of company management,” says son Jay. “His career at Rogers spans nearly 60 years.”

Other family members also fill key roles at Rogers, including brother-in-law Kyle Glasl, Sales Coordinator, and brother-in-law David Hough, Production Coordinator. Recent years have seen the next generation showing interest in the family business.

Like his dad, Jay has been instrumental in the success of Rogers Brothers. Starting part-time in 1984 and going full-time in 1991, Jay succeeded his uncle, Mark Kulyk, to the presidency of the company in 2012. With a bachelor’s degree in economics from Carnegie Mellon University, Jay combines his knowledge of business and finance with plenty of hands-on, practical know-how about the trailer industry.

The ultimate in trailers®
Rogers Brothers’ slogan is “Since 1905, The Ultimate in Trailers®” for good reason. Manufacturing products for the construction industry, the company also makes trailers used in the mining industry as well as others specifically designed and crafted for a single purpose. This includes trailers made to haul power-generating equipment and transformers, boilers, and even massive steel coils.

Some have a capacity of 20 tons, while detachable gooseneck trailers can handle up to 100 tons. Configurations include front loading, rear loading, modular and other types. Rogers is known for the quality of its manufacturing. Clients also appreciate its ability to customize and paint trailers to meet their requirements.

At its 100,000-square-foot facility in Albion, Pennsylvania, the company produces around 110 to 120 trailers every year, depending on the type. In some years, Rogers has built over 200 trailers, mostly smaller models; other years have seen the company manufacture less than 100, but comprising mostly large units.

“We currently have a strong backlog of orders, and our lead times remain quite long for us—28 to 32 weeks for many trailers,” says Jay Kulyk. “The majority of those are for trailers used in the construction industry to haul excavators, bulldozers, paving machinery, et cetera. We’ve also seen an increase in specially designed trailers used to haul steel coils within steel manufacturing plants.”

Like other companies, Rogers Brothers faced challenges at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, including an increase in lead times. Nevertheless, the cloud of COVID had a silver lining in the end. When the pandemic hit, the company had a healthy backlog of trailer orders on its books and was looking forward to a good year in 2020.

On March 18, 2020—a week after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic—Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the mandatory shutdown of most businesses that were “not life-sustaining.”

The state published a list of “essential” business categories that could keep operating, and an appeal procedure was established for businesses deemed “non-essential.” The “essential” list was, in many instances, ambiguous, and Kulyk’s read of it at the time left them as a “non-essential” business.

Due to this, the company had no alternative except to temporarily lay off its entire workforce, effective the following day. Despite email requests for clarification from the state of Rogers’ proper business category and filing an appeal for permission to reopen a few days later, the company received no response.

Finally, on May 11, Rogers Brothers, along with many other types of companies, were permitted to reopen, conditional on putting in place certain COVID-related precautions and procedures. “The ‘silver lining’ to this otherwise depressing situation was that we did not lose a single trailer order despite the unexpected two-month delay in our production schedule, and every single Rogers employee reported back to work on the day we were permitted to re-open,” says Kulyk.

A customizing company
From decades of trailer manufacturing expertise to longstanding family values, dedicated staff, and exceptional customer service, Rogers Brothers is an industry leader.

Working with customers on exact needs and specifications, Rogers makes dedicated trailers to special configurations for construction and mining, and also single-purpose products of all sizes, with wide-ranging customization to ensure their clients’ complete satisfaction. Conforming to transportation guidelines and regulations, construction trailers that go on highways are often smaller than those used on mining sites—often impressively larger and heavier.

Market sectors for the company remain strong, especially construction. The business has seen a noticeable uptick in orders for specially designed heavy-duty trailers purpose-built to haul large steel and aluminum coils within manufacturing facilities.

With a notable 120th anniversary due in just three years, Rogers Brothers Corporation is planning its celebrations. For now, and the future, the company will keep doing what it does best: making the finest trailers in America.

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