BRESLAU — “Ask Anyone.”
For the Breadner family, it’s more than a motto for their Breslau-based truck trailer firm.
It’s a statement rooted in their reputation, built upon the principles of hard work and good customer service that have guided the company since its founding in 1965.
“We want to try and be as good as we can,” says Bob Breadner Sr.
“Want to ask how we’re doing? Go and ask our customers.”
The company specializes in new and used trailer sales, leasing, service and parts, and is headquartered in a 25,000-square-foot facility located on 5.6 hectares on Fountain Street North near the Region of Waterloo International Airport.
In honour of its 50th anniversary — and the arrival of Bob Breadner Jr. last year — the firm recently underwent a rebranding to bring the focus back to the Breadner name.
It had most recently been known as Trailers Canada.
But the change isn’t simply for nostalgia’s sake.
As the company looks to its future, the Breadners are seizing on the name recognition that persists thanks to the 30-odd years the firm did business as Breadner Trailer Sales across Canada.
“We’re happy to re-establish the name that’s recognized nationally,” Breadner Sr. says. “It’s something our family’s very proud of.”
The company markets new flatbed and dry van trailers (the common “box on wheels” type) manufactured by Stoughton, BWS and Wilson.
It also boasts a leasing fleet in excess of 1,200 trailers, none of which is more than 11 years old.
The Breadners are looking at expanding their in-house service facility from the existing six bays. There are also seven mobile service trucks in the fleet, ready to respond within about an 80-kilometre radius.
The company currently employs about 30 people.
Founded in 1965 as R&S Leasing by Glenn Bauman and Breadner Sr.’s father, Vernon, the firm spawned a sister business in 1970 called Breadner Trailer Sales.
Bob Breadner Sr. joined the company in 1980 and assumed the presidency of Breadner Trailer Sales at the age of 27 — just a year later, upon the death of his father.
As the business grew, Bauman retired and sold his interest in R&S Leasing to Breadner Sr. in 1984.
At its peak in the late 1990s, Breadner Trailer Sales had grown to become the largest independent trailer dealer in North America, Breadner Sr. says, with a network of 10 branches from coast to coast.
The business was named one of the 50 best managed companies in Canada for five consecutive years.
But things changed dramatically for the family in 1999 when a plane crash seriously injured both Breadner Sr. and Jr.
Breadner Sr. was at the controls of his twin-engine plane, his 13-year-old son at his side, when it went down in a forest in Muskoka.
“I was off work for over a year,” he says. “It knocked me down pretty hard.”
At around the same time, a well-known American suitor had come calling with an offer to purchase Breadner Trailer Sales.
“We will never get this opportunity again,” Breadner Sr. recalls telling his wife. He made a deal with Wabash National to sell the bulk of the business, while retaining R&S Leasing and its rental operation.
With Conny Weyers running things day to day, Breadner Sr. semi-retired, a transition that would prove to be short-lived.
“I found out I liked selling trailers a lot more than I like playing golf,” he says with a laugh.
By 2004, he was back in the game, bringing trailer sales back into the operation and renaming it Trailers Canada. The current facility was built in 2005.
Breadner Jr. joined his father at the firm last year, a few months before Weyers retired and Breadner Sr. assumed the president’s title.
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition,” Breadner Jr. says. “It’s been very, very positive.”
With the family name once again at the forefront, the company is looking at the road ahead.
“We will continue to look for opportunities that we can take advantage of,” Breadner Sr. says.
“The transportation industry is an industry that’s not going to go away. Goods and services have to move, and they move by truck.”