The History of the Hensley Bulk Feed Trailer
The year is 1962, and many things are going on in the world. The Cuban Missile Crisis begins, Eleanor Roosevelt passes away, and Wal-Mart and K-Mart, two of the largest retailers in the world open their doors for the first time. But in Tippecanoe, Indiana, another company would get its start from an accident and a dream, and a new Family Legacy was born with a 28-year-old man named Paul Hensley.
Hensley Fabricating & Equipment Co. opened their doors for business in spring of 1962. They started out with humble beginnings with their two founders, Paul and Joyce Hensley, still currently of Tippecanoe and still involved in day-to-day operations. Paul had been working with a millwright company out of Burkett, IN up until 1961 when the company had to close their doors in bankruptcy. He then found employment at I & M Manufacturing of Bourbon, where he worked for a couple months, when he got hurt on the job airing up an old, split-rim semi tire. After surgery and a couple days in the hospital, Paul decided to go into business for himself; not building bulk feed trucks, but doing millwright work. Paul and Joyce went to the local bank and borrowed their first business loan; $700 to purchase a used Chevy Pickup, which was used as their first service truck, and they worked for the first two years out of Paul’s father-in-laws barn, formerly Ed Halls Blacksmith Shop.
Hensley became a household name in northern Indiana, building bucket elevator legs and industrial grain systems for some of the largest grain elevators in the region. In the 1970’s, Hensley employed up to fifty people with 10 to 12 service crews on the road full-time, with the new Hensley equipment being delivered to the job site by Paul’s pride and joy; his 1967 Diamond T. After 26 years in the business and many expansions later, Paul and his son Gregg decided to purchase the manufacturing rights and blueprints from I&M Manufacturing and started building bulk feed bodies and bulk ANFO bodies in fall of 1988. In 1990 they produced their first all aluminum feed body, and in 1991, the first all aluminum trailer rolled out the door. Within the first couple years, Hensley focused on the long, multi-axle “Michigan Style” trailers; trailers that had anywhere from 4 to 8 axles and the capability of hauling 40-50 tons.
The first units were designed with chalk and cardboard mock-ups on the floor, but now, state-of-the-art Auto-CAD and SolidWorks 3D engineering programs are used to design the trailers. A large portion of Hensley’s new designs are developed using customer input. At Hensley, focus and attention is paid to every small detail, even down to what others consider insignificant. In 2007, Hensley changed the industry forever with the introduction of the very first Super Auger Trailer. The advent of the 12-15-12 Auger system took the industry to places never before thought to exist. The Hensley Super Auger System, the standard by which all of the other manufacturers are compared, was the first of its kind and has allowed some large livestock producers to double their loads per day, which results in Hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for these operations. Hensley’s customer base now includes some of the largest chicken, egg, turkey and hog producers in the United States and around the globe.
Another major product line at Hensley that is growing rapidly in is ANFO/Emulsion bodies & trailers. These types of bodies and trailers haul Ammonium Nitrate, Emulsion and Diesel Fuel Oil, and blend these together before being pumped into blast holes. Some of the largest coal and copper mines in the United States are running Hensley ANFO equipment, and in 2011, Hensley was approved to build DOT 412 Tanks, which allows the transport of hazardous materials on Federal, State and local highways. Prior to receiving this status, the ANFO bodies were built for Off-Road, Mine use only.
Twenty five years after Hensley began building transport equipment for the Feed, Grain, Blasting and Wood Pellet industry, Hensley’s customer base has grown from a small region here in the Midwest, to all across the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Australia and around the world. Hensley has grown from a small, obscure manufacturer to one of the largest in the industry.
In the words of Paul Hensley, our Founder and CEO, “We (He and Joyce) can hardly believe that it’s grown this much. I never went into business to become rich or to put anyone else out of business. I just needed a job.” The company that once started with two employees and a small shop now employs close to 50 with over 50,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space.
We’re trying to stay on the cutting edge in our industry. Not only does that make our company successful, it ensures job security for our employees and their families.