113: From a Welding Machine to a Trucking Company

During this week’s episode of the Oakley Podcast, host Jeremy Kellett is joined by Mike Conny to talk about how MAC Trailers got started, the future of MAC Trailers, their relationship with Oakley, and more.

Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • What’s going on at MAC Trailers (3:07)
  • How MAC Trailers got started (4:32)
  • Meeting specific needs for trailers (7:47)
  • The future of MAC Trailers (10:56)

Oakley Trucking is a family-owned and operated trucking company headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information, check out our show website: podcast.bruceoakley.com.


Mike Conny  0:12  

We build flats, garbage, everything. We’re probably 30-40% of each market, so we have a lot of market share in the country, but there’s more to get. And we’re just going to keep growing the brand and servicing our customers in the trucking industry and building the best product we can.

Jeremy Kellett  0:30  

Welcome to the Oakley podcast, trucking, business, and family. This show is brought to you by Oakley Trucking, headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The purpose of this podcast is to communicate with Oakley owner-operators and their families by giving them up-to-date information concerning Oakley Trucking and the trucking industry. From business advice to safety updates to success stories. Also to give an inside to outside truck drivers that might be interested in joining the Oakley family.

Hi, this is Jeremy Kellett, Director of Recruiting here at Oakley Trucking. I’m your host for this podcast, the Oakley podcast, and today we got a special episode coming out. This is a little bonus episode that we did at the truck show at the Mid America truck show back at the end of March. I sit down with Mike Conny. He is the owner of MAC Trailers and had a very interesting to sit down with him and he told us how MAC Trailers got started, which is very interesting with him and I use welding machine. You got to hear about that. But also he talks about the future of MAC Trailers and talks about the relationship that Oakley has with MAC Trailers. So good episode coming up. I hope you all enjoy it. Be sure to check us out on YouTube and watch it if you want to. Great story but first before we get started let’s hear from our sponsor Arrow Truck Sales.

Keith Wilson at Arrow Truck Sales in Springfield, Missouri is currently offering $1,000 off your first month’s payment when you finance with transport funding, or $1,000 off the truck price if you bring your own financing. They’re also discounting the cost of an extended warranty by $500. Arrow Truck Sales has been a longtime partner with Oakley Trucking and that’s because they specialize in first-time truck buyers, they don’t do any leases, they have the best-used trucks money can buy (because used trucks is all they do, they don’t sell any new trucks), and the biggest reason that Arrow and Oakley are partners is service after the sale. It is very important to us at Oakley that when we refer you to a company, that they are a good company with good people, they do what they say, and they understand our requirements. So give Keith a call at 573-216-6047 for a good used truck and tell him you heard about it on the Oakley podcast.

Okay, we’re here at the Mid America Truck Show and we’re talking to Mr. Mike Conny, the owner of MAC Trailers. We’re going to visit with him a little bit on a couple things, just talking about what’s going on in MAC Trailers in general. And then also the relationship with MAC Trailers and Oakley Trucking and how we’ve been connected over the years and just some of the good stuff that’s going on. What’s going on, Mike?

Mike Conny  3:06  

We’re just trying to build trailers, get parts, and keep up with all the demand across the country, high demand between the parts issues and help that we’re getting through it. And we’re building some trailers. We’re probably gonna build about 6,500 this year.

Jeremy Kellett  3:20  

No kidding. Is it coming back a little bit? Can you get to where you can build more this year than you did?

Mike Conny  3:25  

I would say yes. I would say that the COVID has been leaving the shops. It’s been pretty hard on this last year. You get these guys and they gotta be out for two weeks. And, and it really hurts assembly lines and stuff, but it’s getting better now that the COVID is getting better. Yeah, but it ain’t affected. The quality has no not now we don’t allow that. We didn’t we’d rather build less trailers. Yeah, gotcha. The only thing I tell my guys, the only thing we have to sell is quality. That’s what we sell all the on-time delivery.

Jeremy Kellett  3:50  

And that means a lot when you got to produce a fine quality product. You got to do it with MAC Trailers. What all kinds of trailers do you produce?

Mike Conny  3:58  

Well, I started a business 28 years ago from one bay garage, just myself and a welding machine. And my first product line was a dump trailer. And then the second product line was a refuge trailer. And then we got into aluminum flats and now we’re into liquid tanks. So we’ve got four major product lines. And a liquid tank can haul hot asphalt or food, molasses, dry bulk material in our pneumatics. So each product line then branches off into different types of trailers.

Jeremy Kellett  4:28  

And this started out of your shop? Out of your house?

Mike Conny  4:31  

Yeah, I grew up on a dairy farm milking cows with my dad. I was 25 years old and then I told my mother I needed $8,000 to pay rent for shopping. I bought a welding machine and started repairing trailers that I’m not I’m not the best mechanic in the world, but I kind of figure things out a little bit with it.

Jeremy Kellett

That’s a great story. Now where are y’all at?

Mike Conny

There are places where we’re loving plants across the country where we’re we’ve got 445 in Ohio, we’ve got one in Fort Worth, Texas. We’ve got to an Oklahoma, one in Billings, Montana, also Portland, Oregon, we just bought the OBO countenance. And now they’re in Portland, Oregon. So now we just bought to be a bottom down. So now we’re building bottom notes Luna bomb nuts out Spokane, Washington, on us. So we’re spread across country, our dealer network is spread across country. So we’re just trying to get out to where we can produce trailers and deliver them to our customers without a whole bunch of freight? Is the demand higher than you’ve ever seen around them? Yeah, I’ve been in the business 28 years and I have never seen a demand like this. I don’t know where it’s all coming from. And I hope when we get down or when we see the letdown I hope it just comes easy. Yeah. Because I’m concerned about how fast it’s going to hit. Everything goes up must come down to Yes. And the price of this equipment for these owner operators and our truckers just went up 30% on these trucks, trailers and there’s nothing we can do about it. Our material cost has soared our labor cost has soared. So I don’t know whether we’re in a the new pricing. Yeah, and worlds moving forward and just everything’s gonna be more money. Maybe we’re gonna live through that. And there may be there won’t be a big ball drop. I don’t know.

Jeremy Kellett  6:03  

Yeah, you hope not, but it’s got to come down at some point. It seems like it has in the past. And I’m like you, I don’t know what that’s gonna mean when it comes down. But man, if this is the new norm, wow.

Mike Conny  6:16  

Well, what we don’t want to get into— We hate to sell a trailer to a guy and five years later, right now he’s gonna pay $25,000 more than he did a year and a half ago. And then he comes in the trailer. And we’re in a down cycle. And as owner operators out there working hard every day. He’s gonna get ground up a little bit.

Jeremy Kellett  6:32  

Yep. That’s the supply and demand.

Mike Conny  6:35  

That’s what it is.

Jeremy Kellett  6:36  

Yeah, and it can be frustrating. We see that too, of course, with our owner operators in the tractor situation. Yeah, trucks are as high as they’ve ever been. They almost have to buy one at some point. We’ll rebuild your old one that you got. But you’ll know if it’s gonna be worth it when you get ready to trade up, so it’s part of it anyway.

Mike Conny  6:56  

Well, if you don’t have good equipment like Oakley, they’re constantly buying from MAC Trailers and they just cycle their equipment and they just have good equipment.

Jeremy Kellett  7:03  

And we buy dumps and pneumatic tanks from you all the time.

Mike Conny  7:07  

Yeah. You’re constant. Benny’s on the phone with me all the time. When he calls me, I get a little nervous sometimes. He called the other day and I was saying, man, I hope you don’t want 100 ’cause I don’t know what I’m gonna do. And he laughed. He just called to check on me.

Jeremy Kellett  7:21  

That’s good. It’s actually, we’ve slowed down a little had to slow down by and trailers because can’t get them like we used to. But the quality is what really what being in a course you deal with Toby all the time on getting from you guys and MAC Trailers and having that trailer that we can depend on makes a world of difference. How do you meet specific needs? Because I know we may be the world’s worst on specific needs on a trailer, Mike.

Mike Conny  7:51  

Well, it’s not an option, I’ll put it that way. When Toby calls, I just listened to him and we work together with the engineers and we develop. Toby’s got certain things he wants on his trailer that he sees to prevent maintenance down the road. And we just listen to him. And we work with engineers and we make it happen.

Jeremy Kellett  8:11  

That goes a long ways. If you actually somebody listens to you and what’s going on about with the trailers and you actually are able to make those adjustments.

Mike Conny  8:20  

Yeah, Toby’s probably one of the best fleet maintenance men I’ve ever met in my life. He knows exactly what he’s talking about in when he picks up phone and he wants it. He’s not he’s not wasting our time. We’re not wasting his time. There’s a reason behind what he wants.

Jeremy Kellett  8:33  

Do you know some of those off the top of your head? Examples of things we’ve changed?

Mike Conny  8:37  

Crossmembers on his floors, alloys on his floors, the alloys of aluminum that they run mudflaps that slide in and out certain mudflaps they have they have because they don’t want to Mudflap coming off. When they’re out 700 miles away from the shop, they have a certain type of Mudflap that slides in and out on a track. And it’s just the hopeless back decides swing hinges. Toby’s got a certain side swing hinge, he runs, it’s just Oakley. So if there are just things that they do, that’s a little different. It works for them.

Jeremy Kellett  9:06  

It’s good to have somebody like you and a company like you that’ll actually work with us on that kind of stuff because a lot of stuff we’re getting from the driver. The driver comes in and tells Toby, Hey, does this make sense? This would be a whole lot more beneficial. We take that to heart. I think Toby does, too. And does it make sense company-wide? Do we need to do this? Do you guys get feedback from drivers too?

Mike Conny  9:30  

Well, that’s where I’ve gotten— You take my half-round trailer right now. There’s a little piece of when the hook and latch comes up in the back. There’s a little piece of plastic in there that keeps it from corn and coal and fertilizer running in my light panel. That came from drought. He can’t come to my shop and he told me he says my cord and my light panels are filling up with corn and getting his hole. So what we did is we worked with the driver and we worked with him and my engineer and we came up and that little plastic only cost $1.50 Wow. But it slides up and down that look and latch that That’s all comes from the drive so just like this show we’re down here to show if you don’t listen to the drivers that pull this stuff that operate to stuff every day then I don’t think you’re gonna be successful in this industry.

Jeremy Kellett  10:12  

You’re definitely not gonna have the best product because me and you ain’t out there pulling them and doing the job every day like these guys do, so they know those little things. That’s pretty interesting.

Mike Conny  10:23  

I farm a lot, about 3,000 acres, and I put a big jag on. I’m hauling my 80,000 and I think I’m man going down the road. I can’t imagine these truckers everyday running up and down the road. 80-86,000 and just handling these things like cars. They’re true professionals.

Jeremy Kellett  10:37  

They are. They amaze me, how they are able to handle the load, the traffic, the truck, the people that are driving against them. It’s really amazing what they do. We’ve got some great professional drivers all over the country and it’s goof to see that. What’s the future look like for MAC Trailers?

Mike Conny  10:56  

Well, we’re just going to keep growing the business and we’ve got quite a market share and dumps and in really everything. We build flats, garbage, everything. We’re probably 30-40% of each market, so we have a lot of market share in the country, but there’s more to get. We’re just going to keep growing the brand and servicing our customers and the trucking industry and building the best product we can.

Jeremy Kellett  11:18  

And you’re pretty hands-on aren’t you?

Mike Conny  11:20  

Yeah, I’m real hands-on. I’m like these fellas come through here to truck show I’m and I’m a president that started with a welding machine milk cows. I’m not I’m not one that that I would hope I would hope when I’m done in this industry they’d say that I was the same guy when I started as the same guys I finished up.

Jeremy Kellett  11:35  

I’ll bet they do. You can tell by the passion that you got about MAC Trailers. It means a lot, too. Just like I do with Oakley Trucking. It’s a passion we have and we want to be successful. We want to be a good partner to you and MAC Trailers is just another I’ve talked to with somebody before about this about our partners with Oakley trucking and you got to have good partners to be successful when you have partners like Oakley and MAC Trailers and Arrow Truck Sales and MHC and it’s just it makes for a great to you a combination.

Mike Conny  12:09  

You can’t grow your business without good partners and good employees. And I think Oakley has got that figured out and MAC Trailers has got that figured out. It takes a team.

Jeremy Kellett  12:17  

It does. We took great companies and looking forward to the future. And that’s the good thing about these two companies. They go make it through the hard times.

Mike Conny  12:26  

Well, I will tell you there have been hard times with MAC Trailers and there have been times where hopefully trucking was the only people on my order board. And I don’t forget those days.

Jeremy Kellett  12:34  

Well, I appreciate that. Yeah, that’s good. All right. Well, I appreciate you visiting with me today. It was really good. It’s not every day I could sit down with the owner of MAC Trailers. I appreciate you hanging out with me.

Mike Conny  12:44  

I thank you.

Jeremy Kellett  12:46  

We appreciate it, man. Talk to you later.

Mike Conny  12:47  

Thank you. Bye.

Jeremy Kellett  12:49  

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Oakley podcast: trucking, business, and family. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to rate or review the show on the podcast platform of your choice and share it with a friend. We love hearing from our audience, so if you’ve got a question, comment, or just want to say hello, head over to our website, theoakleypodcast.com, and click the “leave a comment” button. We’ll get you a response soon and may even share some of the best ones here on the show. We’ll be back with a fresh episode very soon. Thanks for listening.