Production for the Long Haul

Marathon Industries

Marathon Industries, Inc. is in the truck equipment industry. It specializes in the cargo portion of the truck, not the cab or the chassis of the truck. The company designs, manufactures, assembles, distributes and installs any type of truck body for trucking fleets and businesses that use trucks for daily operations.
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Marathon Industries, Inc. acts as a one-stop truck body shop with a wide variety of products to offer, and it provides customization services as well. It begins with raw materials and finishes with the installed product mounted onto a chassis.

This privately held company was founded in the early 1970s. Its facility north of Los Angeles, California occupies over ten acres of production, storage and office space and over 80,000 square feet used for manufacturing, service, warehouse, and office space. It is undergoing an expansion of its facility in Santa Clarita, California to improve its organization by consolidating certain storage areas and opening up work areas to increase flow. There are also plans to construct another 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot building adjacent to the main facility for a standalone welding shop, which will help improve efficiency in production.

The company is in the process of redesigning some of its most popular products as well. The goal is to eliminate some of the cost and labor that is required to build the product without compromising on its quality or aesthetic. The company has a four-part plan for its redesign process and has completed about eighty percent of it so far.

Marathon considers its team of one hundred and forty-five employees to be the most important asset of the company. About fifteen of those employees have been with the company for over thirty years. There is a fairly steep learning curve to the training, but once an employee is trained enough to enjoy the work while contributing substantially, the company does its best to keep them.

“We are a family-owned business, and due to the competitive nature of our industry, we believe that the people truly do make the difference in our company. Our highly trained production staff and the customer relationships established and maintained by our sales team are really what drives our repeat business,” says Chad Hess, the chief executive officer and president of Marathon Industries, Inc.

Customers appreciate that Marathon is a partner, rather than simply a vendor, and genuinely cares about their success. The company hopes that the majority of its customers return for repeat business, and no business deal is ever considered a one-time sale for the company. Trucks wear out over time, so even if a customer only purchases one truck at a time, it will need repair or replacement sooner or later.

One of the biggest advantages of working with Marathon industries is that it is large enough to have the infrastructure, the people and the knowledge base that a large trucking fleet would demand yet it is small enough to remain nimble and adjust, customize or change direction if necessary.

It is somewhere in the middle of the industry regarding revenue and competes against the national public companies as well as small welding operations out of a garage. Last year marks the company’s best year for income, and, so far, 2018 it is outpacing last year’s rate. The company is aiming for five-to-ten percent growth this year.

The rising minimum wage in California has caused some workforce issues as has the increasing costs of health insurance. The company offers a fair wage with the addition of overtime bonuses, and employees willing to put in extra work can make a good living as a manufacturer in California. However, Marathon does, at times, struggle to find new talented production workers.

Another challenge is the automation process for such a large product as it works toward the redesign of its products to require less labor and lower costs. “Full-automation has been challenging somewhat due to the size of the product. It is something that we are constantly looking at. There may be something along those lines that is not full automation but is semi-automated.” The company is taking the time this year to break down some of its most popular products, such as the van body, into separate parts to see what part of the process can be automated.

Marathon Industries provides a broad array of products for trucks and truck equipment, from pickup trucks to refrigerated van bodies. Most sales come from the van bodies that it manufactures and its wide variety of customers include fleets, daily truck rental companies, national leasing companies, truck dealerships and more. It provides customization services that many of its competitors are not capable of, which has enabled the company to maintain a commanding market share in manufacturing truck equipment for the entertainment industry.

It also has a full repair center. Marathon Truck Body is one of the largest truck fleet repair centers in the western United States. It is capable of servicing and repairing all truck and trailer equipment. The repair center only uses materials that meet or exceed the industry standards, and it uses the same technology that is used to manufacture new truck bodies and trailers. Marathon offers a delivery service for repaired products within a one hundred and fifty-mile radius of Los Angeles.

The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) has set specific guidelines for work truck equipment, and the company strives to meet those. The company has been awarded the MVP status with the NTEA, which means that its products meet certain quality, safety, insurance and financial standards that many other companies do not.

Marathon Industries serves most of the western United States, but its reach has been limited as its product is very large and must be driven to the customer. However, its customer base will extend further in the years to come. The company constantly searches for opportunities to expand into another location in the United States in order to become more user-friendly for its customers in other geographic regions.

“One of the things that we are in the process of analyzing, and hope to implement in the first quarter of this year, is a new scheduling software program that will help give us more visibility into each labor cell, will give us more intelligent scheduling and make us more efficient with on-time deliveries,” says Chad Hess. It plans to continue the development of other software and internal processes as well and is upgrading to the newest software versions for improved customer resource management and better ERP systems.

Marathon Industries believes that the key to its tremendous growth is its flexible service and creative sales approach combined with its employees’ skills in customer care. Its people truly are what set it apart from its competition. Its talented salespeople establish authentic relationships with customers, and on the production side, the long-term employees have the experience and knowledge to properly care for its products.

“We have the quality, the experience and the knowledge on the production side of things, and we have the long-term sales and support staff that have relationships with our customers and keep people coming back to us,” says Chad. Marathon Industries is dedicated to helping its customers solve transportation challenges professionally and efficiently.

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Past Issues

June 17, 2019, 1:06 PM EDT