When Jim and the late Joan Donahue started the Donahue Corporation 50 years ago in Durham, they started with a single product, the Farm Implement Carrier.
The company has broadened its product selection considerably since then, to include stock trailers, flatbed trailers, even hydraulically operated expanding trailers.
But none of those can match the peak of popularity of the original Farm Implement Carrier. Sales manager Mike Stika said the original has sold about 58,000 units over the years. Even with more advanced models, the company still sells 50 to 60 each year.
“It’s interesting, that’s what started it,” Stika said.
The original manufacturing plant was in Durham, but the Donahue Corporation moved northeast of Durham in 1972 into a larger facility.
Stika said every product has been field-tested on the Donahue ranch. Most trailers are sold via a coast-to-coast network of dealers, but the company sells directly to local buyers. Stock trailers and flatbeds are in the most demand right now, Stika said.
One of the newest additions, designed by Jim Donahue just like the original Farm Implement Carrier, is an 8.5-foot wide trailer that can be expanded to 12.5 feet wide with the push of a button. The expanded width is big enough to handle a swather, but when it is at its narrowest it doesn’t require “wide load” accommodations.
Stika said it is more difficult lately to keep fully staffed than to sell trailers. The company is currently operating with a skeleton crew of about 15 people.
“Right now the crew we have, we keep some stock out in the yard, but we’re just keeping up with orders,” Stika said. “We really couldn’t do with any less (employees).
“Can’t complain about sales,” he said. “Sales are good.”