We would like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal customers for the support and confidence that you have shown in our company and our fire trucks. We are so proud to be in a leadership position in this industry. When we look at how we got here, it’s kind of amazing. After all, we are located in a village of 300 people in eastern Nebraska – not exactly the first place one would think of to buy fire fighting apparatus. Yet, thousands of customers from all over the United States and Canada have made their way to our little village to plan and to inspect their fire trucks.
How did we get to this level? When we first started building fire trucks, it was not the main focus of our business. It was basically a response to a request for something special. What we designed and built was a little different from everybody else’s, a little better. As word got out, the fire truck business outgrew our other products and we decided to create a separate company strictly for fire trucks, and we added on to our building. As our reputation grew, so did our facility and our employee base.
We were a regional company but our product was worthy of international status, that we knew. We considered our location and the competition and the likelihood of breaking into this market on an international level. We knew it was an uphill battle competing with larger companies from more populated areas but we believed in the old adage – build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. But first, they have to find out about it, and here’s where our dealerships come in. It’s risky business to try to sell a brand that customers haven’t heard of. We thank the Smeal network for believing in us and having confidence that we would all grow together.
We have added on to our plant many times. We have expanded our product line and focused on creative and functional ways to improve what’s available in the fire service industry. Our reputation is built on quality and innovation. We pride ourselves on making fire trucks safer and more functional. We have introduced many unique time-saving, energy-saving, safety-inspired features to the fire service. They say that the greatest form of flattery is imitation. That’s the way we look at it when we see our designs on other manufacturer’s fire trucks.
Our latest innovation is a hydraulically operated hose bed cover. Two aluminum treadplate doors are power operated by a self-contained hydraulic system set to a pressure that smoothly powers the doors upward and downward. The doors stay firmly open when reloading hose as well as firmly down in travel position. This device is loaded with safety features; the power unit is operable only when the parking brake is activated, the doors are connected to the open-door warning system, an audible alarm sounds during operation, cylinder pins attached to the doors are removable in the event of a mechanical or electrical failure. Once again, safety and convenience at a surprisingly affordable cost.
We enjoy seeing our customers return for their second, third and fourth Smeal trucks. Many departments have a full fleet of our apparatus. They tell us how convenient it is for training purposes, especially when there is personnel movement between department locations. The mechanics tell us how easy it is to service our equipment. When everything comes from Smeal, there’s less down time and it’s all less complicated. The comments from our customers who come here, not knowing what to expect upon arrival, are very gratifying. We hear things like, “If anybody has any concerns about the quality of your product, they should just come here to the factory. Walking through the plant, watching the workers and talking with them and the staff, you just know you’re going to get a great truck.”
Due to your requests for our apparatus, we have had to be more productive and take advantage of every square inch of our 300,000 sq. ft. building. But, it’s not enough. We recently purchased a 50,000 sq. ft. satellite facility not far from home, in Neligh, NE. There are a great bunch of workers there who can’t wait to get involved in Smeal fire trucks. We’ve started training them here in Snyder and they are now building components and sub-assemblies for completion in our Snyder plant. We expect our employee base in Neligh to grow, as it has in Snyder. But even that’s not enough. We’re adding a 38,000 sq. ft. addition to our main plant this summer.
Thank you, our customers, for giving us the opportunity to have our fire trucks ready and working for the departments of North America. It is our pride and our honor.
The Owners and Employees of Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.