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It’s ‘Party Time’ for Comer Distributing

Chip Comer calls the Mickey Party Time trailer the “Cadillac” of event trailers. He even attached the Cadillac emblem to his Party Time.

Comer Distributing, a beer wholesaler in Rock Hill, SC, likes to party. More aptly, the company likes to have its wide range of domestic, craft and imported brews from around the world served icy cold without disruption at major parties and events throughout its seven surrounding counties.

Keeping the beer cold and flowing freely can be a tough task when the crowds of thirsty patrons number in the thousands and the temperatures run high. But for Comer Distributing, that job recently became “much easier and much more pleasant,” says company President Chip Comer. That’s because earlier this year Comer purchased a new Mickey Party Time event trailer from High Point, NC-based Mickey Truck Bodies.

Almost immediately after making the purchase, Comer put the new Party Time trailer to the test. Its maiden voyage was the Ninth Annual World Beer Festival in Columbia, SC in February, held at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds. With the craft beer scene in South Carolina in the midst of a major growth boom, the event’s sponsors had to change the 2017 venue to the Fairgrounds from its previous home at the much smaller Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The Mickey Party Time trailer had no trouble keeping up with the crowds.

Crowd at Beer Festival in Columbia, SC.

“Probably 5,000 people came through the event that day,” says Chip. “The beer lines were long but they moved through quickly because the beer was pouring perfectly – all 16 taps – eight on each side, representing all four of our Charleston breweries. The people loved the lights and music coming from the trailer, and most of all they loved the ice cold beer. We even had some other distributors come by who were really wowed by the Party Time trailer. They wanted to know where it came from. It was kind of comical but I told them it’s definitely a ‘Cadillac.’ I even attached the Cadillac crest on the side of the unit.” (See photo)

While the Mickey Party Time event trailer “makes an impressive statement from the outside,” Chip says it’s the user-friendly and roomy design – “and of course the excellent Mickey craftsmanship” — that set it apart from competitive models. “You can completely stand up inside the Party Time trailer, whereas in other trailers you’re constantly leaning over while you’re working, and that’s really tough on the back when you’re moving kegs around. The work space inside the Party Time, the wide double doors in the back and the shelves up front to store tools and equipment all make our job much easier and much more pleasant. We set the temperature required by the brands and it holds steady; works perfectly. It’s reliable all the time.”

Comer has been running the Party Time trailer at events virtually non-stop for all of April and is already booked through May. “Wherever we show up, our brewery reps are impressed by the presence the trailer gives their brands at these events,” according to Chip. “They tell us: ‘when you do an event, you really do it right!’”

So does the Mickey Party Time event trailer.

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Mickey Truck Bodies breaks ground on new plant

New facility will more than double van body capacity to over 15,000 units a year.

Mickey Truck Bodies has broken ground on a 20,000-sq-ft liftgate installation facility on the 13-acre site the company purchased in 2015 from a former furniture manufacturer.

The new facility, which is expected to be operational in July 2017, will house a total of 15 bays for liftgate installations and chassis preparation. The company expects to hire approximately 25 additional employees to handle the workload. Liftgates are one of the most popular accessories on Mickey’s truck bodies. Mickey is an authorized installer for all major liftgate brands.

The liftgate facility will be located in the northwest quadrant of the property, and represents the first phase of a major expansion program to address the prolific growth of Mickey’s business. Following completion of the liftgate building, Mickey will commence construction on a 70,000-sq-ft assembly plant on the former Pearson property.

“This new assembly plant will be the most automated manufacturing plant of its type in the country,” says Dean Sink, Mickey President. “The equipment and fixtures we will be using in this facility are currently in development and will set new standards for safety, quality and efficiency.”

The new state-of-the-art manufacturing center will more than double the capacity of Mickey’s existing business to over 15,000 units a year. The company manufactures truck bodies and trailers for the vending, beverage, packaged goods, automotive battery, emergency services, furniture and truck rental markets, among others.

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Safety-first is a Mickey ritual

Mickey EHS Manager Josh Soto (left) and Mike Baucom, Area Vice President for Airgas.

Mickey Truck Bodies’ employees lined up for their complimentary Biscuit Breakfast earlier this month celebrating 30 days without an accident. The number one priority at Mickey is safety – always has been, always will be. At press time the accident-free streak was up to 76 days. The Biscuit Breakfast marking every 30 accident-free days is becoming a regular event at Mickey.

“We continue to look at ways to improve our safety performance every day,” says Josh Soto, Mickey’s EHS Manager. “A good example of one measure was the addition of vending machines that put the PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] closer to the appropriate work stations for quicker and easier access by our teammates. We worked closely with Airgas, our long-term supplier partner, to make this happen.”

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Mickey employees honored for ‘spirit’

Mickey teammates pictured at the awards presentation (from left): Margie Richardson, Carl Mickey, Joe Barnes (United Way), Gail Wells, Dean and Matt Sink.

Mickey Truck Bodies has received The Spirit of North Carolina Award for Campaign Excellence from the United Way of North Carolina.

The prestigious award recognizes outstanding companies and their employees that “demonstrate campaign excellence and community commitment through local United Way involvement.” Only 33 companies across North Carolina received this award based on volunteerism, employee participation and giving levels, year-round education, corporate support, incentive programs and campaign rallies, among other criteria.

Mickey employees have participated 100% in each of the annual United Way campaigns for the past several years.

“We have dedicated 2017 to ‘being the best’ at everything we do – in work and in life,” says Dean Sink, Mickey President. “This award exemplifies the Mickey spirit and our absolute commitment to being the best.”

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Schneider rolls into NYC with Mickey in tow

Mickey Truck Bodies was part of the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on April 6 when Schneider National senior management rang the bell in honor of its IPO – symbol SNDR. That’s a Mickey/Schneider 17’ van body on a Freightliner chassis parked outside the Exchange.

“Mickey makes it to the New York Stock Exchange! It doesn’t get much bigger than this,” says Jim Hiatt, Mickey VP National Accounts. Schneider National is the country’s largest private for-hire fleet. The chassis in the photo are all Freightliners.

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Mickey bolsters van body sales team

Forrest Howard

Forrest Howard has joined the Mickey Truck Bodies team as Sales Account Manager He reports to Tom Arland, Vice President of Beverage, Van and Specialty Vehicle Sales.

Forrest brings over 10 years of successful direct sales and sales process management to Mickey. Most recently he was a Sales Supervisor with Time Warner Cable in Greensboro, NC, where he was among the nation’s leaders in B2B sales.

Initially Forrest will focus on van body sales in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Forrest and his wife Helen reside in Greensboro.

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In Sink: ‘Bullish’ on Mickey

By Dean Sink, Mickey President As you probably know, Mickey Truck Bodies is 113 years old, and for that entire time we have been family-owned and operated. We have also been privately-owned, which means we are not influenced by the so-called “Wizards of Wall Street.” We make our own decisions based on what’s best for our company, our employees and our customers.

Dean Sink

Case in point #1: The new lift gate installation and van body assembly plant we recently broke ground on adjacent to our existing High Point manufacturing complex. We moved quickly to purchase this land when it became available in 2015, even though at the time we didn’t have an immediate need for the space. We carefully assessed our current and future needs and planned prudently for this new facility. It will be up and running this year.

Case in point #2: The Mickey Party Time Event Trailer. At Mickey, we listen to our customers, not to an outside board of directors or absentee investors. Our customers told us they need a quality, durable and versatile event trailer to dispense their products and expose their brands to large crowds of consumers gathered for a variety of occasions. Not to mention, they wanted this event trailer to look really sharp. So we designed our event trailer up to the same high quality engineering and construction standards that we adhere to on all of our bodies and trailers – or as Comer Distributing President Chip Comer put it: “… The excellent Mickey craftsmanship.”

But just because we are a successful private company that is 113 years old doesn’t mean we’ll never make it to the New York Stock Exchange. Be sure to read the Schneider National story in this issue of The Spirit. We did in fact make it to Wall Street, and we got there because our customers are “bullish” on Mickey Truck Bodies.

Happy reading.

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Mickey gets a ‘lift’ from a unique business

A Mickey body being lifted 20 feet in the air on a “scissor lift” manufactured by Tesco Equipment LLC, a leading supplier of aviation and industrial lift systems. Airports use the lifts and bodies to stock airplanes for in-flight food service.

You might say Mickey Truck Bodies is “getting a rise” from its newest business partner – Tesco Equipment LLC, a leading supplier of aviation and industrial lift systems around the world. The Coral Springs, FL-based company’s scissor lifts are used in a variety aircraft, ranging from regional jets to the Airbus A380, to support catering, cabin service, ambulatory and other applications.

“Tesco’s core capability is the design and manufacture of lift systems for the aviation industry,” says Todd Holm, Mickey’s Southeast Sales Manager. “They also assemble the bodies for their lifts, but that’s not their core business.”

The first Tesco/Mickey interaction came when Mickey provided Tesco with several of its popular ProVend full-service vending units to cater corporate jets. Following the successful trial, Tesco executives visited the Mickey manufacturing campus in High Point, NC for a plant tour, and that “opened the doors for other opportunities,” according to Todd. “Mickey engineered a unique body solution for Tesco for aviation catering and servicing demands. It was a win/win for both companies: it opened up additional space for Tesco to manufacturer its scissor lift systems, and allows the company to focus on its core capabilities. For Mickey, it’s a great opportunity to expand into a new and unique field with our engineered solutions.”

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New CFO has 20 years in the field

David Ingles

David Ingles has joined the Mickey Truck Bodies Team as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), reporting to Matt Sink, VP Manufacturing & Director Corporate Operations.

Greg Fisher, most recently Vice President and CFO, has been named to the new position of Sr. VP/New Ventures & MTB Subsidiaries.

Greg Fisher

Most recently David was VP, Corporate Controller with Novolex Holdings, LLC in Charlotte. Novolex is a leading manufacturer of plastic and paper retail bags, industrial can liners and film products in the North American market with sales of $2 billion. He is a financial professional and CPA with 20+ years of progressive experience in financial reporting, financial analysis and accounting leadership in manufacturing, distribution, commercial and shared services environments.  Prior to Novolex David spent 18 years with Hanesbrands Inc. in Winston-Salem.

“David’s experience and proven ability to partner with top-level management and identify business opportunities, execute action plans and achieve results will enable him to step in and contribute immediately during this period of unprecedented growth at Mickey Truck Bodies,” says Matt.

Greg Fisher joined Mickey in 1995 as Controller, was promoted to VP Finance 2 years later with the added responsibility for purchasing, and was named COO/CFO in 2010. He spent 11 years in the public accounting field prior to moving to the private sector in 1993.

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