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Putting the Woman in Manufacturing

What comes to mind at the mention of women in manufacturing?

Rosie the Riveter, perhaps?  Our minds revert to a throwback from the early 1940s.  The only reason we have that icon is because men were off to war and someone—women—had to do the job.  Once the necessity was over, the Rosies went back to non-manufacturing duties.  Subsequent potential Rosies were prohibited or, at the very least, discouraged from taking technical and skilled trade classes. 

Today, a smaller percentage of women are choosing to be Rosies than the originals, despite the evolution of STEM and manufacturing.  Fortunately, an initiative is growing to put more girls in contact with manufacturing equipment.

In partnership with three regional Arkansas education cooperatives, Ledwell kicked off Women’s History Month by hosting a manufacturing competition for high-school girls.  The “Girl Power to the Max” event, held on March 1, showcased the entries of 21 finalists.  Similar to applying for a job, the finalists were judged on creativity, construction design, technical skill, and interview responses.

The winners, including Kinlee Stivers, Mallory Abercrombie, and Emily Lewis, received trophies from Boss Laser, cash awards, and $500 tuition waivers from the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana.

Girls from De Queen-Mena, South Central, and Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperatives created projects, ranging from decorative to functional, using CNC cutting and lasering with an emphasis on welding and power structural systems.  CNC, or computer numerical control, involves using specific computer-programming language to control the movement of factory machinery. 

Essentially, it is modernized manufacturing and applicable STEM.

The goal of the competition is to increase the number of females seeking and qualifying for high-paying, high-demand, and highly skilled innovative construction/manufacturing occupations.   Forty girls participated in last year’s competition, but that number increased to 125 this year. 

Not only did more students enter the contest, more girls surveyed after the event answered that they would be interested in working toward a future in STEM or manufacturing.  This is a big win for the competition!

Another win for the program includes significant grants from the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Career and Technical Education that have been awarded to districts without the latest CNC and laser equipment.  Therefore, students will be learning to use machines that are being used in today’s manufacturing workforce. 

Technical teachers are also receiving professional development led by welding instructors to update their skills and knowledge.  Ledwell has offered to be in partnership in this endeavor.

With its educational outreach and in conjunction with “Girl Power to the Max” organizers, Ledwell plans to put more Rosies in the manufacturing workforce.  Rosie will no longer be an image from the past but a trailblazer of the future.

Ledwell East Providing Refurbished Solutions

Ledwell East Refurbished Equipment

Fayetteville, North Carolina, is located along the Cape Fear River in the Carolina Sandhills.

Ledwell added a second location on the east side of the city in 2008 to serve as a parts and service center for the East Coast.

Ledwell East has grown to include final manufacturing processes and refurbished equipment over the years. Fayetteville provides the same quality service as the main Texas facility.

To evaluate what work is needed, the team will work through a series of steps when a Bulk Haul Feed Trailer refurbishment comes into the shop. It starts with a bath. The feed trailer receives a good wash to allow for proper evaluation of the equipment.

Then, to assess the damage, if any, they run all the hydraulics, pneumatics, and electrical components.

Finally, a visual inspection of the entire trailer, inside and out, is done. This thorough walk-through of the trailer gives the team a clear idea of everything that needs to be repaired or replaced and an estimated time for how long it should take.

Occasionally, a trailer not common to their area will come in to be refurbished, but that doesn’t stop them. The North Carolina team works hard and are problem solvers. Ledwell East meets customer challenges with innovative solutions and gets the job done.

Expanding into the Future

Accurpress Accell U 55024 installed at Ledwell

As Ledwell expands, the need to increase task efficiency is an integral part of continuous improvement.

With the addition of an Accurpress Accell U 55024 to our Brake & Shear Shop, we can handle more sizeable parts than ever before. Our process to bend elements for longer equipment is now more efficient and productive due to this new 24-foot-long, 550-ton hydraulic press brake.

Ledwell installs new Accurpress Accell U 55024

Proof is in the Patent

Ledwell Gull Wing
tilt deck trailer with Ledwell maxtilt

Innovation is a marker of success at Ledwell. Ledwell holds numerous patents for its unique designs of individual parts as well as entire apparatuses to make work more efficient for its customers.

Among the first patents applied for by the company in 1974 was for a chicken harvesting and transportation system. More recently in 2022, Ledwell obtained patents for original features found in its Gull Wing, HydraTilt Truck, and the MaxTilt Trailer.

When Ledwell discovered that the kind of hydraulic cylinders that lift weather-resistant doors of its Gull Wing was the only product of its kind produced in the United States by an American manufacturer, the company filed for a patent, which covers a complete truck body package. The Gull Wing provides convenient loading and unloading, protecting users and products from less favorable weather conditions and keeping them safe.

Patents can also pertain to specific aspects of designs or machines. In Ledwell’s case, a unified hinge used in HydraTilt Trucks and MaxTilt Trailers is covered by a patent. This part of the design is essential to raising the main decks to an unmatched level of up to 32 degrees of tilt.

Ledwell designed and Ledwell made—American protected.

Manufacturer Ledwell Patented Equipment

Maintenance Schedule Helps Achieve Peak Performance

Ledwell Maintenance Schedule for heavy duty loading ramp

Equipment can get run down just like we do. How do you feel without a bit of self-care now and then?



When our bodies aren’t taken care of, we tend to move less efficiently. The same goes for equipment. The wonderful thing about us and machinery is that we can become more efficient with some work.

That work looks different for everyone. For your equipment? It looks different for each product type. No matter which one you have, it will operate at peak performance when you have a maintenance schedule.

A proper maintenance schedule, including greasing, can keep your equipment’s operation points swift and smooth. Depending on the type, these schedules offer daily, monthly, and yearly service points.

Routinely performing these services will help the equipment operate more efficiently and maintain operation for longer. Reduce downtime. Reduce cost. Reduce stress.

In short, performing routine maintenance equals a lower cost of ownership.

Preventative maintenance schedules are readily accessible to you! You’ll find everything you need to know about taking care of your machinery and ensuring it’s in tip-top shape.

Manufacturing the Future

Ledwell is expanding!

An additional 66,000 square feet of manufacturing space will be added to the existing 12 acres of space under roof.

To support growing industries, the company’s new state-of-the-art facility will offer the flexibility to fabricate, produce, or enhance machinery. Ledwell hopes to increase production efficiency by creating 100 or more jobs and adding more automation with the expansion.

“The expanded building is not just adding production capacity for our customers; it is also a strategic step toward enhancing our skilled workforce with innovative manufacturing technologies and advancements in automation, robotic welding, and material handling, “ says Michael Hawkins, Director of Operations.

Ledwell is known to meet customer challenges with innovative solutions – this time, the solution is a brand-new shop with endless possibilities.

Hanor Company Keeps the Pork Industry Moving with Ledwell Bulk Feed Trailers

Here in America, we love our pork. 

We eat an average of 264 pounds of meat per person each year, and 67 of those pounds are pork products. Back in 1978 when Hanor Company’s roots in commercial pig productions started, the average person ate just 191 pounds of meat per year. As demand for pork grew, so did pork farms across the country.

What started as a single 1000-sow farrow-to-finish operation—which includes all stages of pork production from breeding to market—has expanded to seven states and now sells 1.4 million market hogs each year. 

Hanor Company now has farms in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Iowa, and Illinois, and their genetic breeding program supports an integrated pig production system that processes 9 million pigs annually. Neal Jordan, transportation environmental manager for Hanor Companies in North Carolina, said it simply: “We raise pigs for a living.” Jordan, one of the company’s 650+ employees, has been at Hanor for 20 years. 

Raising pigs is anything but simple, though. In July, Hanor veterinarian Jon Tangen told FarmJournal’s Pork that the industry faces global threats like African swine fever and the war in Ukraine with Russia impacting grain prices and thus impacting the cost to raise meat. 

Despite global challenges and those that hit closer to home—like inflation, oil prices, and finding and retaining employees—Hanor Companies employees are dedicated to maintaining high standards when it comes to their hogs. Hanor supports the Pork Checkoff’s We Care initiative, which includes acknowledging a farm’s responsibility to produce safe food, protect and promote animal wellbeing, and ensure practices to protect public health.

“It’s of our utmost interest to make sure our pigs are well taken care of the entirety of their lifetime, until we utilize them for a nutritious protein source to feed our neighbors,” Tangen told FarmJournal’s Pork in July.

Tough bulk feed trailers with high standards for safety, sanitation and biosecurity are key in the pork industry. And while farms spent roughly 60 percent of the cost of raising pigs on feed in 2017, farmers have seen those prices jump to 70%-80% over the past few years.

That makes efficiency in feed transportation even more important. 

“I’ve been here 20 years, and Ledwell bulk feed trailers were here before me,” Jordan said. He said he’s still running a 1996 Ledwell trailer in his fleet. “Usually one that’s pulled every day, 300-400 miles a day, I try to move them out of the fleet in about 12-13 years.”

In North Carolina, Jordan is responsible for managing a fleet of about 10 tractors and 30 trailers. With skyrocketing feed costs, they have to choose transportation equipment that reduces waste and lets them get the most out of their feed.

“Ledwell bulk feed trailers are good equipment,” he said. “They’re reliable, not expensive to maintain. They’re always willing to help. They always make accommodations for what we need.” 

Ledwell works with Hanor to customize their stock bulk feed trailer with modifications specific to the needs of Hanor’s farms.

In a business with lots of rough gravel roads that can be harsh on even the best equipment, drivers don’t have time for downtime. 

“If we have a major breakdown, Ledwell is normally Johnny-on-the-spot as far as getting us what we need to get the repair done,” Jordan said. Ledwell can respond quickly to those requests because they manufacture more than 80% of their parts in-house, meaning they don’t have to wait on other suppliers. 

That’s by design. The Ledwell Made Guarantee, which backs every product, promises swift support that helps you get back to work quickly and tough-built products that last for decades with proper maintenance. 

And that’s exactly the kind of equipment that Hanor Company, one of the nation’s premier pork producers, needs to keep producing safe food for our communities.

Taught Well With Ledwell

High school intern shooting video for Ledwell

New backpacks, clean shoes, and unopened packs of pencils indicate a new school year as much as the waxed campus floors and the straight rows of unmarked desks do. It is that time of year again—the beginning of fall semester. The newness will certainly wear off, but hopefully, the learning that will occur has a more lasting impact.

As the summer heat persists, students and teachers settle into a year of preparation for the future. Students’ rigorous school schedules might include algebra, chemistry, a foreign language, or Ledwell.

Ledwell is known for manufacturing truck bodies and trailers, but the company also collaborates with schools in the Texarkana area. Sarah Carpenter, Ledwell’s Community Outreach Director, explains, “We’ve worked hard these past few years to create long-term partnerships with organizations and schools within our community.” The goal for this involvement aims to bring awareness about programs that teach important technical, employment, and business skills essential to life after graduation.

High school intern shooting video for Ledwell

In addition to hosting and participating in a multitude of facility tours and career fairs yearly, Ledwell provides internships to high-school students who are interested in exploring their future vocation options. “Internships give [students] the option of skipping the phase of moving from job to job” when deciding on a career path straight after senior year, according to foreman Brad Stringer. Offered during the summer and the school year, internships also “build a potential base of future employees… and a stronger workforce for Ledwell and our surrounding area” Stringer continues.

“Ledwell is currently our largest internship/job placement partner, and we are excited about the opportunity to continue expanding our internship offerings [to] audio/video production students, graphic designers, business students, or any other entry-level [students]…at Ledwell,” states Jennifer Gibson, the Career and Technical Education Director at PGHS. A proud mother shares that her son “is on course for a very promising future, thanks to the collaborative efforts of both of these organizations.”

“We’ve worked hard this past year to create long-term partnerships with organizations and schools within our community. It’s important to provide another option for
students who may not attend college after high school.
Our goal is to fill gaps and for students to gain knowledge
of the opportunities right here in Texarkana.”

Sarah CarpenterCommunity Outreach Director

Interns agree that their coworkers’ patience and willingness to help have greatly impacted their experiences and work ethic at the company. Because of the on-site learning opportunities, one former student of the PGHS CTE program expresses that he is particularly proud of how far his welding skills have progressed at Ledwell. Another intern, Olivia Perry, has combined her love of accounting with a “newfound respect for mechanics” as she navigates the inner workings of a business like Ledwell. “I want to be ready and prepared for a career after I get out of college, and I think being an intern is showing me what a serious job environment looks like.”

Middle and high schools can tour the Betty and Buddy Ledwell Workforce Training Center at Texarkana College to discover other options locally besides going the traditional college route post-graduation. The site includes programs in construction technology, industrial maintenance, and other workforce trades. Admitted high-school graduates can attend day or night classes taught by experts in the field at the state-of-the-art Training Center. Upon completion of the program, participants go into the professional workforce having technical skills and strong work ethic, making them highly sought after by employers.

Ledwell’s educational outreach and partnership with local schools, in Gibson’s words, are “a way of bringing students and businesses together to fill a need for a business and launch students into the workforce to begin their next phase of life after high-school graduation.” With its outreach with local schools, Ledwell shapes more than metal—it shapes futures.

Deduction & Depreciation – 2022 Tax Incentive

Are you taking advantage of Section 179? Businesses can deduct the total purchase price of qualifying equipment during the tax year under this part of the IRS tax code. The U.S. government created the Section 179 deduction to encourage companies to invest in themselves.

You can deduct the total purchase price from your gross income if you purchase a piece of equipment. Equipment must be purchased or financed and put into service by December 31, 2022, To qualify for the Section179 deduction.

 Several tools and educational materials are available on the Section179 website to help determine what qualifies.

There is even a Section179 calculator to help you figure out your potential deduction for the 2022 tax year. Follow the prompts and enter your equipment cost, from software to bulk haul trailers, to determine your deduction and lowered equipment cost after tax savings.

 Additionally, bonus depreciation allows 100% depreciation on new and used equipment, including custom manufactured equipment by Ledwell.

Don’t wait! By purchasing or financing equipment in 2022, you can claim a deduction for these items under the existing bonus depreciation rules.

 Any truck bodies or trailers we manufacture at Ledwell qualify for this deduction. To order yours today, contact our sales team or browse our site.

ASME Certification Continues

Ledwell continues ASME certification

In 1916 ASME began its program for certification to companies in the pressure equipment industry. This program was developed to certify quality control systems for the design, fabrication, assembly, and inspection of boiler and pressure vessel components during construction.

Products manufactured by ASME BPVC certificate holders include a certification mark in accordance with the applicable certified section also known as a “U” stamp. A company can also be certified to make repairs or alterations to pressure vessels under the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors under an “R” stamp.

Ledwell began building pressure vessels, or in our case DOT Cargo Tanks, in the spring of 2010. This past May, we successfully completed our 5th joint review for ASME and National Board certification.

The purpose of the review is to evaluate the quality program and ensure the implementation for each product manufactured for fabrication, alterations, and repairs. Each assessment ensures the applicant’s quality program is implemented successfully and complies with requirements based on the ASME standard.

Certificates are granted after a review of the previous 36 months of work, verification of record-keeping requirements, personnel training, and required knowledge of pressure vessel design and fabrication rules.

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