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Getting an Arkansas lift.

Getting An Arkansas Lift

How do you quickly unload cargos as varied as grain, potatoes, wood chips or cranberries from an 18-wheeler without dump truck capabilities? You dump the entire truck.

There are three companies in Arkansas that produce the equipment necessary to pull off this mighty feat: Phelps Industries Inc., Peerless Corp. and Eason Manufacturing Co.

Phelps focuses primarily on the truck dumpers and hydraulic equipment used to make them. The Little Rock company, which employs about 45, was started in 1927 by Hubert Phelps, whose speciality was pneumatic loading systems.

The firm is still held by the family. (Ivo Phelps Jr., Hubert Phelps' grandson, is president.) But the company's focus has changed from making heavy-duty vacuum devices, to producing a platform that lifts trucks up on an incline. When in operation, the equipment looks like a drawbridge being raised.

The lifts, which Phelps has been making since 1972, don't come cheaply. Frito Lay, which uses Phelps dumpers to unload potatoes, pays about $85,000 for a 70-foot-long model.

The company made about 17 of the dumper units with sales totaling about $2.5 million last year. According to company spokesman John Phelps, the last three years have been the company's best, and the plant continues to work at capacity.

Among Phelps' customers are International Paper Co., at its Pine Bluff works; Weyerhaeuser, Dierks; Ocean Spray, for unloading cranberries, and the Aluminum Company of America and Reynolds Metals. Phelps also is making the hydraulic cylinders for rail-based MX missiles.

Established in 1950, Peerless Corp. in Paragould is a subsidiary of Timberjack Corp. in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Timberjack was bought out and recently became a division of Rauma Repola, A Finnish company.

For Peerless, with nearly 100 employees and annual sales of more than $10 million, truck dumpers are just one line of a range of equipment manufactured for the logging industry. Peerless started making the dumpers in 1974.

Eason Manufacturing in Wrightsville began in 1965 and now employs from five to 10 employees and has annual sales of about $1 million, says John Squires, shop foreman.

The company, which makes equipment used for loading and unloading grain or fertilizer at river terminals, began making truck dumpers in the early 1960s.

Among Eason's customers are Riceland Foods, Cargill Inc., Allen Canning Co. and Oakley Inc.
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Title Annotation:truck dumpers and hydraulic equipment
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Dec 18, 1989
Previous Article:Opposites attract.
Next Article:No-passing zone: J. B. Hunt Transportation is moving at a clip that won't allow other truckload carriers to overtake it.

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