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A Big Dog Story

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the trailer you’re hauling behind you has a 100+ year American heritage? These days, that kind of pedigree is as rare as an easy-going safety inspector, but that’s the story behind Great Dane Trailers.

It all started in 1900 with the founding of the Savannah Blowpipe Company. What’s a blowpipe? Not what you think! The company’s sheet metal “pipes” were used by sawmills and furniture factories to collect and remove sawdust. As you might imagine, that wasn’t a big market, even then. So the company began fabricating steel products, which led to a name change to the Steel Products Company. And by the early 1930s, they started making flatbed trailers.

What about that “big dog” name? The man behind that was William Lowndes, an established trailer builder from Greenville, SC, who was hired by Steel Products Co. to help their new business grow. His home-made trailers were called Great Danes, so the name came with him. Maybe it had something to do with the Great Dane’s size, strength and stamina. Or maybe he just liked dogs.

The company’s trailers became so much a part of their public image that Steel Products Company eventually became Great Dane Trailers. And a lot more happened along the way.

During World War II, Great Dane played a major supporting role for our armed forces, earning Army Navy “E” for excellence awards five times.

With new highway weight laws, Great Dane trailers moved to high-strength steels to help maximize loads. By the late 1950s, another big change came with light but strong aluminum-alloy trailers, ultimately totally replacing steel in their line-up. (Good thing they changed their name from Steel Products Co.)

Lots of acquisitions and factory purchases expanded Great Dane’s capabilities, and today, six American plants build Great Dane trailers, giving them easy distribution and a big share of last year’s record trailer shipments.

Sure, you buy a trailer for its quality, capability and value. But isn’t it nice to know that a century-old American company is helping you haul your freight? Go, big dog!