How the World Gets to the Water
EZ Loader Boat Trailers
Since 1953, EZ Loader Boat Trailers has been a leader in manufacturing boat trailers throughout the world. Serving as a one-stop shop for recreational boat trailers, EZ Loader manufactures them for nearly every boat and body of water.
From its humble beginnings, EZ Loader Boat Trailers has become a respected marine industry leader due to its dedication to high-quality workmanship and excellent customer service.
I spoke with David Osenga, VP of Finance for the company along with Company Secretary Chrissy LaFleur, whose grandfather, Lawrence Johnson, founded EZ Loader Boat Trailers, to find out more.
“Our people, longevity, and passion for details of putting boat trailers together with the best possible materials is what separates us from other companies,” Osenga said. “We have over 65 years of experience doing this. We only make boat trailers – we focus on our core competency and do it extremely well.”
Based in Spokane, Washington, EZ Loader Boat Trailers also has four manufacturing plants – one for custom/welded trailers in Midway, Arkansas, and three adjustable facilities in Spokane, Washington, Elkhart, Indiana and Port St. Lucie, Florida. EZ Loader also boasts the west coast’s state of the art galvanizing facility in Spokane, Spokane Galvanizing, Inc. The company has 10 distributors in the United States along with four in Canada and international distributors in Japan, Cyprus, Russia, Malaysia, the Philippines and many other countries. “With our distributor network, if someone breaks down in Florida or Alaska, we can fix the trailer/supply parts; our competitors cannot be that fast,” Osenga said.
The company’s position as an industry leader in today’s marine industry comes from years of dedication to innovation, hard work, and continuous improvement to its boat trailers. “Our adjustable boat trailers provide a custom fit to your boat,” Osenga said. “If you replace your boat with similar gross weight, the trailer can be adjusted to fit perfectly. Our custom products are state of the art, and exceed customer expectations every time.”
Building high-quality, safe and durable boat trailers and delivering them with excellent customer service has been at the core of EZ Loader Boat Trailers’ success over the years. “We build our trailers to last for decades,” Osenga said. “Our superb workmanship combined with low turnover ensures quality and pride in our products. Attention to detail – we put the best products into making our trailers – is a key to making them last. We use top-quality material in every trailer.”
The company is certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), The National Marine Trade Association (NMTA) and the Boat Trailer Manufacturers Association (BTMA). Mr. Gary Potter, VP of EZ Loader Custom Boat Trailer, Inc. served as chairman for the NMMA as well as President of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM). As a testament to the company’s long lasting products, Ms. LaFleur recalls the company replacing a part on a trailer built in 1963.
“We support our trailers for a lifetime,” LaFleur said. “If you need a replacement part, we will get it for you. We have a Facebook page and we get pictures of old trailers, like the one from the 1970s. There was a tree growing through the boat, but the owner could still pull the trailer out, it was still serviceable after so many years. We get customers calling all the time for our ‘60s-era trailers. Our products do last.”
The company also builds trailers for the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, and the various arms of the Military.
“If there is a disaster/attack, you’ll see lots of EZ Loader boat trailers,” said Bill Lang, Senior Vice President of EZ Loader. “There are military gun-boats sitting on EZ Loader trailers at strategic locations worldwide. Some of our dealers sent pictures from recent hurricanes of people loading boats onto our trailers.”
EZ Loader Boat Trailers has a variety of products that meet the needs of its clients and has been granted numerous design patents since 1964 beginning with the first all-roller trailer. The company offers self-adjustable roller trailers with pivoting/tilting rear cross members available in Single, Tandem and Triple Axle Torsion Suspension and Single and Tandem Axle Spring Suspension models. The company also offers bunk, pontoon, water-vehicle and aluminum I-beam adjustable trailers.
The company’s adjustable trailers are galvanized for ultimate protection from rust and corrosion. Marty Nordean, General Manager of Spokane Galvanizing, Inc. describes the galvanizing process. “We use a high-grade, proprietary, lead-free zinc bath formula in our process which gives a higher quality than typical Hot Dip Galvanizing industry standards. This makes our adjustable trailers stand out against our competitors.” EZ Loader’s black/silver textured baked on powder-coat offers a superior and elegant finish for trailers used in a fresh water environment. EZ Loader also offers an array of customized trailers for its customers. The X-Treme Trailers are top-of-the line with a number of standard features that are often upgrade options at rival companies such as torsion axles, reversible spring-loaded side load guides, single stop turn reverse LED tail lights, rear cage rollers attached to the rear cross member for a better application, and standard 18” wheels. Other customizable trailers are aluminum and pontoon varieties.
And the company has not stopped developing innovative products for the marine industry. The latest patent from the company is for the I-Tube/Beam Aluminum that conceals the brake line and wiring and adds additional strength and durability. EZ Loader’s engineers are working with Gonzaga University engineering students on R&D to develop new ideas and commercially viable products.
“Our manufactured torsion axle suspension consists of remarkable technology that’s safer, quieter and offers superior performance,” Osenga said. “It is the best in the world. Your trailer rides down the highway like it’s on a cloud. A leading axle manufacture, who has built a strong reputation as a progressive industry leader, has conveyed to our company that our axle is superior to theirs.”
According to the NMMA, recent data indicates the marine industry is positioned to grow, but differently from the past. “Recent market data from NMMA, Foresight Research, and the U.S. Census Bureau show the boating market is strong,” Osenga said. “There are about 90 million boaters and EZ Loader is committed to providing the highest possible value and the lowest possible cost. We want to offer the highest value to our consumers and to our Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Dealers.”
Other changes faced by the industry include an aging, retiring workforce and accommodating millennial workers at the company. “Millennials may have a distinct set of values and preferences that can present new challenges to employers who are integrating members of the group into an established workplace,” Osenga said. “These challenges can be especially acute in manufacturing enterprises, some of which have been in business for many years and tend to have older than average workforces. Boomer and Gen X bosses at some of our plants are mystified by Millennials and looking for new ways to reach out to them. EZ Loader is searching for the ideal methods to attract and retain the best and brightest Millennials.”
Some strategies include engaging these employees through collaboration, adapting to mobile technology, training and development, clearly delineated career paths, creating mentoring programs, and a sense of purpose. “We make sure millennial employees understand how their role contributes to the company’s overall success; that underscores their value to the organization,” Osenga said.
Other recent changes include adapting the company’s Mission, Vision, and Values, originally developed by cross functional teams. EZ Loader has been dedicated to ‘Do the right thing, the right way, at the right time, every time,’ and started the marketing campaign, ‘How the World gets to the Water,’ developed by Potter.
“We are a big company with a small company feel,” said Osenga. “Our value of family first comes through. Our suppliers mean everything to us; our customers are why we are here. They will determine if we will be here tomorrow. We build to meet each customer’s needs and preferences, and provide unparalleled service through the lifetime of a trailer. The closer we are to our customer, the better we can listen and deliver what they want.”
For over 60 years, EZ Loader Boat Trailers has met its mission to build quality, safe and durable world-class boat trailers and deliver with extraordinary customer service. “When you look at today’s marketplace, you want to be a company that stands on value,” Osenga said. “The value of people, what it means to be a great company – we want to be that company that stands out not for lowest cost, but safety and reliability of our products. That’s where we want to be.”
“Anyone can put a trailer underneath a boat,” Lang said. “But if you get a phone call when people go on vacation, and their trailer has issues and they’re stuck, we do what we can to assist them to get to their vacation/weekend spot without any problems, because we’re customer-oriented.”