B&W Trailer Hitches - A Turnover Success
By Margaret Evans
I’ve towed horses for many years with a two-horse bumper-pull trailer attached to the truck in the traditional way – with a ball mount hitch. Some riders towed larger gooseneck trailers hitched to a mechanism permanently welded into the middle of the truck box. I’ve always thought that type of hitch would be incredibly inconvenient whenever you wanted to use the truck for other purposes.
Apparently a couple of guys in Kansas thought so too.
Roger Baker (left) and Joe Works, founders of B&W B&W Trailer Hitches.
Photo (left): Joe Works (front centre), now the sole owner and president, with staff at B&W Trailer Hitches, an employee-owned company. Photo courtesy of B&W Trailer Hitches
In 1987 in a small garage in Humboldt, Roger Baker and Joe Works were at a crossroads. Baker was a skilled classic car restorer but he was seeing a declining demand for his abilities. Works was struggling with the challenges of the family farm. Both of them were worried about the future. But both of them knew the value of a good working truck with a strong box. A kernel of an idea was forming. Leaning up against the workbench and brainstorming solutions to their problems, they saw opportunities in manufacturing the highest quality truck beds on the market, and new horizons began to open up. Within months, B&W was formed.
The truck beds – complete with tool boxes, matching paint, hand pinstriping, and headache racks to protect the rear window of the cab from impacts – rapidly earned an enviable word-of-mouth reputation as people talked about the quality and good looks of B&W’s products. Buoyed by their success, by 1988 Baker and Works had also found a solution to that frustrating gooseneck problem.
Enter the Turnoverball.
Back then, the best way of getting rid of the gooseneck ball was a large plate with a ball that folded down. But it needed a big hole in the bed, not to mention some challenging installation procedures. Baker and Works designed a hitch with a ball that could be pulled out, turned over, and stowed beneath the bed. The mounting framework actually bolted to the truck frame and needed no welding, drilling, or bed removal. The new hitch, the celebrated Turnoverball, not only proved successful, it’s now the gold standard in the gooseneck hitch industry. Today, this style of ball storage and mounting system is used by nearly every gooseneck hitch manufacturer.
“A hitch when you need it … a level bed when you don’t.” – motto of B&W Trailer Hitches. Photos courtesy of B&W Trailer Hitches
“We install them and they work,” said Dean Barkman with Cap-It in Chilliwack, BC. “They are the nicest hitch on the market and we sell more of them than other types of hitches. Customers want value for money. Once they are in, they’re in. And they are not necessarily more expensive than other hitches on the market. The beauty is that they can roll over when not in use so they are out of the way. Once we have installed them they work, and we don’t see them again, meaning they are trouble-free.”
B&W operates out of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility just a half-mile from the garage where Roger and Joe laid out plans to change the towing industry with the first Turnoverball gooseneck hitch. Works is now the sole owner and president of the company and he continues to invest in superior design and improvements to hitch solutions.
“Nearly twenty (plus) years after we started this business, our mission hasn’t really changed,” he said. “We believe in building innovative, high quality products that meet the needs of real users. We don’t want to get so big that we forget our roots.”
B&W has a skilled workforce of craftspersons and the most technologically advanced equipment to produce a wide variety of products. The company uses American-made steel; they buy sheet steel from U.S. Steel out of Gary, Indiana, or as a round bar that becomes the gooseneck ball made at a mill in Norfolk, Maine.
Photos (left/above): From the original garage at Humboldt, Kansas in 1987, to the present-day state-of-the-art manufacturing facility a half mile away, quality remains the number one priority at B&W Trailer Hitches. Photos courtesy of B&W Trailer Hitches
This is an employee-owned company where the bottom line isn’t just about profits. It’s about employing neighbours with the brightest talent, spreading the bottom line of success across a community.
As stated on their website (www.turnoverball.com), “In a product where the strength and flexibility of the steel can mean life or death, we trust the US steel mills with their finely controlled processes and specifications we can trust. A hitch is only as good as the welds holding it together. We insist on making those welds under our roof. And the hard-working, skilled Americans who make the welds do so according to the ASTM Welding Standard.
“You’ve got a lot riding on your hitch and those relatively small pieces of engineered steel play the leading role in keeping your truck and your trailer connected. The hitch matters to your safety and the safety of our roads.”
For more information, visit: www.turnoverball.com.
Main photo: Photo courtesy of B&W Trailer Hitches