By Eric Peterson | May 27, 2021
Three generations of McClouds work at VORSHEER. "I sit right smack-dab in the middle of that," says Steve.
His father and son, respectively Donald and Davin, work with him. Davin "is a phenomenal TIG welder and aluminum guy," says Steve, while Donald is now the company's "numbers guy." Between the three generations, he says, "We had all the skills available between us to get this going."
The VORSHEER name -- inspired by Norse mythology and German engineering, roughly meaning, "to go right at something and destroy it," says Steve -- reflects the product and the business philosophy. "I want to go at this -- I want to crush this market," says Steve.
The operation was born from the ashes of another trailer manufacturer, Moby1, that Steve had left a few years before it shut down. "People were putting down huge sums for their deposits and waiting a year, two years to get their trailers," says Steve. "There's no reason these trailers shouldn't be in dealerships. There's no reason these trailers shouldn't be better-built."
In place of Moby1's "ad hoc" approach, VORSHEER has embraced principles of Lean manufacturing and in-house production. "Everything's machined," says Steve. "Everything's laser-cut, CNC-bent, or cut on CNC router tables. All our parts are made to certain tolerances. We put a lot into it on the front end."
The "VORSHEER complex" now encompasses 18,000 square feet of space in Springville and is equipped with a plasma cutter, CNC brake, and welding and wood shops. "We try to keep as much manufacturing in-house as we can for one primary reason: We can control quality," says Steve, noting that outside vendors are largely domestic. "Our trailer is 90 percent made in the U.S."
Specialization is the name of the game. "There's only two guys who ever wire a trailer," says Steve. "We've only got three guys who ever TIG weld -- we're very particular about our TIG welding, especially where we do a lot of aluminum."
The VORSHEER catalog now includes four trailers -- the XOC, XER, XRT, and XOC-R -- as the company has shipped about 150 to date. The key selling points are durability, innovative design, and high ground clearance, says Steve. Plus, he says VORSHEER's trailers are user-friendly, noting, "I'm a guy who likes to fix something on the trailer if I need to. . . . We don't want anything on the trailer you need special tools to work on."
After moving from direct sales to a dealership network in early 2020, VORSHEER saw sales jump by 300 percent for the year, and Steve forecasts 200 to 300 percent growth in 2021. "I knew dealers were going to be the key," he says. "They sell things, that's their job, and I really felt our focus needed to be on quality and innovation, not sales."
Challenges: COVID-19's impact on VORSHEER's supply chain. "Last year turned into a scramble getting parts -- there were times we were buying parts off of Amazon or eBay rather than going directly to the manufacturer like we would normally do," says Steve.
The end result? VORSHEER missed out on 30 to 40 deliveries in 2020 waiting on parts.
In 2021, availability isn't as much the issue as cost: "Steel prices have darn near doubled," he says. "You don't have a choice -- you just move through it. You get on the phone and start working the problem."
An increasingly crowded trailer marketplace is another challenge, Steve adds. "There's a lot of competitors now. We have some pretty serious competition these days."
Opportunities: VORSHEER recently built a custom trailer for Salt Lake City-based Black Rifle Coffee Company to use at events, and Steve says the company could potentially make more custom trailers for corporate customers. He also sees opportunities to grow exports after receiving dealer inquiries from Canada and Australia.
New models -- including the solar-powered XCT this summer -- are also on the way. "We're seeing this green trend coming, we've seen this electric vehicle trend coming," says Steve. "You've actually got a trailer you can take camping with you that could charge your electric truck."
Needs: Projecting 10 to 20 hires in the next year, Steve says "good employees" are a constant need, and adds, "Cash flow is always a challenge. We don't take any money up front -- we don't get paid until the trailers get delivered, so we self-fund in that respect."
He also sees an economy-wide need to boost manufacturing. "Manufacturing in this country is dying hard," he notes. "The biggest challenge any manufacturer faces is unrealistic expectations from a lot of the younger workforce."