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Module Truck Systems Inc.: Industry Leader at a Crossroads
An entrepreneur named Barry Reynolds invented the cotton module truck in the 1970s, completely transforming the cotton industry. Prior to this invention, harvested cotton was placed into trailers and pulled to the cotton gin by farmers using their own pickup trucks.
They lost a lot of their product en route to the gin, because the cotton couldn’t be compacted heavily enough to withstand winds on the road. Additionally, the farmer’s ability to complete his cotton harvest was limited to the number of trailers available to him. The invention of the cotton module builder at Texas A&M University allowed farmers to store their harvested cotton in the field. However, until Reynolds developed a truck that could load the stored modules directly from the ground, few farmers had adopted the technology.
The covered bed of the truck reduced transport losses and gins became able to store large amounts of cotton for processing. The form of the module also allowed cotton gins to adopt technology to process cotton at much faster rates. The module truck’s improved transport efficiency, coupled with its faster processing speeds, led to a dramatic decline in the number of cotton gins, even as total production increased in the U.S.
Multitalented Crew Manufacture Industry’s Highest-quality Module Truck
Lubbock, Texas-based Module Truck Systems Inc. (MTS) manufactures module trucks for the cotton industry, and its trucks are well-known throughout the industry as being some of the best built. Curtis Griffith, who still serves as chairman of the board, founded MTS in 1996, and the company has always specialized in the production of module trucks, according to Janet Kristinek Betts, president and general manager.
MTS has used its experience in manufacturing, maintenance and repair of these trucks to design and produce a better quality product. As a result, MTS has become the leader in the sales, service and manufacturing of cotton module trucks throughout the cotton belt. The company provides nearly 85 percent of the module trucks bought within a typical year. Betts says that MTS employees are the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the module truck business today. More than 25 percent of MTS employees have been with the company since the company began.
While headquartered in Texas, MTS has also established a service center in Moultrie, Ga., to service the southeastern cotton-growing region. Additionally, MTS operates field service trucks that can cover all the cotton-growing areas in the United States. Cotton module trucks manufactured by MTS are now operating in every cotton-producing state in the U.S., as well as several locations in Mexico. During the harvest season the company’s technical support hotline is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by employees of MTS that are well-versed in the service and repair of cotton module trucks.
In January 2011 GLB Enterprises, a wholly owned subsidiary of MTS, established a sales office in DeWitt, Ark. “We foresee strong truck sales coming from Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas,” notes Betts.
Exploring New Lines of Revenue
The ongoing drought in Texas has affected a number of companies that support the agricultural industry, and MTS is one of those companies.
In 2011 alone the company manufactured 62 new module trucks. However, because of the ongoing drought, the company has revised its projected sales for 2012 to only 30 units. In light of the weather issues impacting sales, the MTS team is currently exploring the company’s options to manufacture products to replace the loss of revenue that the company will incur.
“The oil and gas industry is one of the strongest sectors here in Texas, and we could easily adapt our operations to manufacture frac tanks for them,” notes Betts. “There is very strong market demand, and we are designing a tank that we believe will provide a better value for our customers in this highly competitive market.”
MTS is also exploring the manufacturing of a trailer specially designed to pull and replace submersible irrigation pumps. “These units may revolutionize the water well service industry as much as the module truck did for the cotton industry,” reveals Griffith.
Once Betts and the MTS team have decided how to augment its production lines, the company stands ready to implement the changes. “The drought in Texas won’t last forever, but we have a highly trained and talented workforce,” explains Betts. “I’m ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that the company and our employees are still here when the drought is over.”
The module truck has remained vital since Reynolds invented it, re-establishing the United States cotton industry as having the most high-tech ginning and handling system in the world. MTS has outperformed all of its competitors and has effectively captured the market. Under Janet Kristinek Betts’ leadership, Module Truck Systems Inc. plans to continue leading the module truck market, bringing its tradition of superior quality and service to all other products it manufactures.