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The Merritt family has been dedicated to building trailers with what they call, “Legendary Toughness,” for nearly 70 years.

“This ‘legendary toughness’ is woven into the DNA of America’s farmers, cattlemen and livestock haulers,” said Shae Swanson, branch manager of the Merritt Trailers Fremont, Nebraska, location. “It is a family-owned company founded on the same principles found on family farms – ideals like character, integrity, honesty, hard work, good stewardship and a strong faith in God.”

The mission at Merritt Trailers echoes Swanson’s sentiments: “Merritt Trailers, Inc. is a family-owned organization, proud of who we are, we manage the business based on our rural values – honesty, integrity and a dedication to meeting our obligations to our customers and employees and we give the glory to God for through him all things are made possible.”

The company began in 1951 when Everett Merritt Sr. traded his Oregon cattle hauling permits, equipment and rental house for a welding shop and rental house in Portland, Oregon. During the first decade of the business, the company went from building wooden cattle boxes to double-deck steel trailers and then evolved to the aluminum, double-deck trailers that are popular today, Swanson said.

In 1970, Merritt opened its full-service, sales and manufacturing branch in Denver, Colorado. Ten years later, the company moved its corporate headquarters to that location and in the same year introduced one of the biggest innovations in trailer manufacturing history.

“That was the 1-inch side post design that gives Merritt unmatched interior dimensions, designed with livestock in mind,” Swanson said.

“Cattle hauled 30 years ago were smaller and weighed less than cattle we haul today. Add that to the industry’s continuing focus on animal welfare and end-users demanding a higher-quality product, Merritt stepped up and delivered a trailer they call the biggest box on the road,” Swanson added. “This trailer is packed with innovations like 3-inch punch sides that provide tremendous ventilation and 63 inches of back clearance under the jail to prevent bruising on larger animals.”

In 2008, Merritt also decided in order to better serve its customer base in the Midwest beef belt, it should open a full-service sales branch in Fremont, Nebraska.

Locations in Henderson, Colorado and Fremont do the manufacturing. Customers are spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“We have a huge following from sea to shining sea,” Swanson said.

The Nebraska location serves needs of customers all over the central U.S., from ag families to commercial hauling companies.

Customer service is important, Swanson said.

“Our engineers in Denver really listen and take ideas and make equipment that is still safe to operate and safe for the animals to be hauled in,” he added. “We simply spend a lot of time with our customers.”

Overall, the goal is simple, Swanson reiterated in closing: “At Merritt we like to consider ourselves part of America’s food chain. We’re all in this together. Some are just trying to sell you something. We want to create a relationship with our customers where we can help them drive their businesses toward profitability.”

Kerry Hoffschneider can be reached at

Kerry Hoffschneider is a freelance writer for the Midwest Messenger, based in eastern Nebraska. Reach her at