Enclosed and Open Trailers by Mirage/TNT
3/16/2010 - For Mirage Trailers founder Rob Swikert, the key to building great trailers is building a great team.
“Mirage is all about the right people,” Swikert said. “We all love what we do and like being here. We believe that money isn’t enough…you must have fun.”
This philosophy has served the Nampa-based company well. In just seven years, Mirage has grown from a start-up to an industry leader with a network of 250 dealers stretching across the Western U.S. and Canada. The company’s cargo and equipment trailers – used by snowmobilers, ATVers, contractors, even racecar owners – are widely considered some of the best in the industry.
At its peak, Mirage was building nearly 80 trailers a day. Even now, in the midst of the severe economic downturn, the company’s “people-first” approach continues to fuel Mirage’s success.
Led by the same management team that launched the company in 2003, Mirage continually works to improve every aspect of their business. For example, the company utilizes a unique piece-rate system for production employees that allows them to earn more as efficiency increases and warranty claims are reduced. It’s a common-sense approach that Swikert says keeps employees focused on meeting the market’s increasing demand for lower prices and ever-higher quality.
“It’s really a matter of getting back to basics,” Swikert said. “We’re not focused on just growth. It’s quality of growth that is the most important thing.”
If that perspective sounds like that of a seasoned industry veteran, that’s because it is.
Rob Swikert, Mirage’s president and majority shareholder, has spent most of his life in and around the trailer business. His father, Dale, was a long-time executive with one of the nation’s largest RV manufacturers, giving Rob a unique inside-view of the industry from a very early age.
After graduating from college, Rob, with the participation of Dale, founded his first trailer company with a friend. They grew the company, sold it, and three years later Rob set out on his own, founding Mirage in 2003.
Through the years, the father-son team has worked closely together, with Rob leading the company but frequently calling on Dale’s vast experience. Even today, at age 80, Dale maintains an office at Mirage and comes in almost every day to share his wisdom and play a couple hands of cards in the lunchroom.
“He’s a great sounding board,” Swikert said. “I feel very fortunate to work with my dad every day.”
The challenges of the economy and new financial realities of his business – tighter credit for manufacturers and dealers, high cost of capital and pricing pressures – has led Rob to look to other experts as sounding boards as well.
“That’s why I really enjoy working with Western Capital Bank,” Rob said. “They are very hands on. The bank president comes out to our office and spends time talking about the nuts and bolts of our business and how they can help.”
The future is bright for Mirage Trailers. Swikert expects sales to climb steadily as the economy picks up, the availability of credit for dealers improves, and the company’s internal efforts to increase manufacturing effectiveness pay off.
“Mirage is here for the long run,” Swikert said. “We’re making progress every day so that when things improve we’ll be ready to seize the opportunity.”