Welcome to Mirage Enterprises!
CANYON COUNTY — Just seven years after its founding, Mirage Trailers has risen as one of the largest trailer manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest.
After weathering a severe economic storm in recent years that shuttered some competitors in the industry, officials at the local firm look to diversify an expanding lineup of trailer products for continued success as sales begin to rebound.
To survive the recession, the firm closed a secondary manufacturing plant in Weiser and substantially downsized its staff. But with an existing network of more than 200 dealers that sell its trailers across the western United States and Canada, the company has kept ahead of industry trends as it seeks to expand its niche in an industry hit hard by the lingering economic downturn.
Mirage President Rob Swikert founded the company in 2003 but is no novice to the business. His father, Dale, was a longtime executive at one of the nation’s largest RV manufacturers and helped Swikert start his first trailer company, Interstate Trailers, in 1995 after Swikert graduated from college. They sold Interstate Trailers in 2000 and, today, Swikert’s father continues to play a role at Mirage, where he maintains an office and is on hand to offer advice.
Specializing in manufacturing a wide variety of trailers, from traditional cargo to recreational trailers designed to haul ATVs and other off-road toys, Mirage can also fill custom orders catering to individual needs.
“We specialize in all trailers,” Swikert explained. “And if somebody wants a different floor plan or whatever, we can generally accommodate them.”
Expanding its lineup of products and constantly updating existing designs, sales have risen about 35 percent this year compared to last year — but that’s still down about 50 percent compared to pre-recession levels.
With a staff of about 100 workers today, Swikert remains optimistic and the firm has even begun rehiring a few former employees as business picks up.
Diversification key to survival
While its best-selling product remains open and enclosed utility trailers, Mirage officials work constantly to find ways to improve existing models to meet various needs in an ever-changing marketplace.
As consumers have become more cost-conscious in the recession, the company unveiled a new “entry-level” enclosed trailer, priced about 20 percent below other models. At the same time, the company has also moved to fill new niches as some of its competitors have shuttered in recent years, and is working to soon expand into the traditional, towable RV industry.
“Our plans are to just keep going, keep coming out with new products.”
Constantly adapting to new trends in the broader market, Mirage regularly modifies trailer designs to better suit clients like power sports dealers. Swikert said its snowmobile - and ATV-hauling trailers are among the best in the industry, in large part because of the company’s active outreach efforts to customers.
“We keep up with changes with (newer model) snowmobiles or ATVs to find out what the end users want,” Swikert said. “We’re always on the cutting edge.”
In an altered industry landscape, Mirage actively explores new places to market its products.
“Marketing is the biggest challenge, as far as finding new customers,” Swikert said. “We’ve had a lot of competitors go away, and so we’re trying to fill that niche of marketing to new dealers.”
Jesse Nance is a Business Reporter for the Idaho Press Tribune