Troubled trailer maker Wabash National Corp. may be seeing a light at the end of its financial tunnel, given the news it has booked $100-million worth of trailer orders for 2002.

"We are beginning to receive indications from our core customer group that their 2002 requirements will exceed their orders placed in 2001," said Richard E. Dessimoz, Wabash's acting CEO. "While we do not anticipate industry fundamentals to dramatically improve in the short term, a number of our key customers have performed relatively well during these difficult economic times, which appears to be driving their demand for new trailers."

Those orders could help the struggling firm survive the losses it sustained in 2001. Lafayette, IN-based Wabash has been restructuring its operations since last September. It closed two trailer factories in Ft. Madison, IA, and Scott County, TN, and reduced its used trailer inventory from $120 million down to $50 million while laying off about 2,000 workers.