LOUISVILLE. Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. officially revealed its special edition “Legacy Museum” trailer at the 2014 Mid America Trucking Show; a customized dry van unit designed to commemorate the company’s 100 year anniversary.

“This special museum trailer is equipped with interactive screens, historical photographs, rare memorabilia and a 25-minute documentary film chronicling our story as it relates to important moments in history,” noted Craig Bennett, Utility’s senior VP-sales & marketing, during a press conference at the show.

The OEM also displayed a 1924-era trailer from its past at its booth to illustrate the changes such equipment has undergone over the last century.

Bennett added that Utility expects to enjoy in his words “a good year,” projecting to sell some 40,000 units in 2014, with over half of them refrigerated models.

He told Fleet Owner that the overall trailer market in North America is expected to range between 240,000 and 250,000 units this year, up only a percentage point or two over 2013’s numbers. “And 2013 was down a little from 2012,” Bennett (at right) noted. “We probably are not going to get back to the 270,000 unit peak we last experienced in 2006.”

Yet the new hours of service (HOS) regime may change that as it may force fleets to increase their trailer-to-tractor ratio, he said.

“There remains a possibility that the trailer market might grow more due to the more restrictive HOS rules,” Bennett emphasized.

He noted, too, that fleets – both for-hire and private – are also now reversing a trend to shorten trailer life cycles.

“The trend a few years ago was towards shorter life cycles; for example, moving from a 7 to 8 year ownership period for refrigerated units down to 5 to 6 years,” Bennett explained. “Now we’re going back the other way towards 8 year and even in some cases 10 year ownership periods. That’s why we’re working to increase the durability of our trailers and extend warranty coverage as well.”