Executive Q&A: Oklahoma trailer manufacturer hauls in North American, Australian clients

Michael Terry, co-owner of Cimarron Trailers in Chickasha, has loved making things, since he was a boy working on his grandfather's farm.
by Paula Burkes Modified: April 20, 2013 at 12:10 am •  Published: April 21, 2013

Q: What was your first professional job?

A: I worked as a drafter in Dolese Bros.' engineering department. Lynn and I would go to lunch everyday together and they hired her for the maintenance shop. They weren't supposed to hire spouses, but they thought she was cute.

Q: You've had a long career in the trailer manufacturing business. Give us a quick overview.

A: I started as a drafter with Haynes Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Chickasha, where I worked eight years. The owner died and the production manager and I had plans to buy the company, but he left. Over the next few years, I taught the ropes to a financial guy, who ultimately squeezed me out. (After losing that job) I didn't know what was going to happen. I knew I had a family to feed; my daughter was 3 at the time. That's when I joined Hart Trailers of Chickasha, where I worked 15 years. I started in drafting and engineering, moved to sales, and was general manager when I left.

Q: What led you to start your own business?

A: Opportunity. I wasn't necessarily planning it, but God shoved me into it and things fell into place. We started on Feb. 2, 2000, as partners to a couple who owned Cimarron Trailers in Madill. But Lynn and I bought them out in the summer of 2003. We had no idea how we were going to get the financing. Our first bank backed out as we got nearer closing. The second bank gave us a USDA guaranteed loan, which we paid off over eight years. Tony Hackney, our production manager and a former co-worker at Hart, has been with us from the start. Today, his dad and son work for us.

Q: You've built some custom trailers for some unique “clients,” including several college mascots. Tell us about those.

A: Yes. We've built one for Bevo, the longhorn steer of the University of Texas, USC's white horse, Traveler, and Colorado State's Cam the Ram. In fact, we're building a trailer now for the live horse ridden by Texas Tech's “The Masked Rider.” We've even built one for an elephant.

by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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PERSONALLY SPEAKING

Position: Cimarron Trailers in Chickasha, president and co-owner

Website: cimarrontrailers.com

Birth date: Feb. 12, 1956

Family: Lynn, wife of 38 years and business partner (“She's still trying to housebreak me,” Terry jokes. The couple have known each other since seventh grade and began dating as sophomores at Chickasha High School.) Daughter Ellen Avery of Oklahoma City, and two granddaughters, 21 months old and 9 months old

Education: Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, the equivalent of an associate degree in drafting and engineering

Community/professional involvement: Elder, First Christian Church of Chickasha; past board member, Grady County Joint Development Authority; co-founder and past president, National Association of Trailer Manufacturers

Pastimes: gardening, caring for grandkids, and getaways to New Mexico and Missouri

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