I always thought that when I grew up, it’s where I wanted to work—and that’s turned out great.
LAKE, OCEAN, RIVER or pond, when you’re on the water zipping around on a jet ski, kicked back for a gentle evening cruise on a pontoon, hot-dogging on a wake board behind a ski boat or fly fishing down a crystal river on a drift boat, it’s leisure time. The last thing you want to do is worry about how to safely get your watercraft to and from your aquatic getaway—or any tricky, cumbersome maneuvers to unload and launch it. That’s EZ Loader’s job to worry about—and why their boat trailer company is “How the World Gets to the Water.”
Producing arguably the best boat trailers in the business, EZ Loader has been around since 1953. The company holds 13 patents (and counting) and sells millions of dollars in trailers annually—nationally and internationally. And those fine boat trailers they sell? They’re made by Boilermakers from Local 242 (Spokane, Washington).
“We’re a high-end trailer. There’s a lot of pride in what we do, and many of the Boilermakers who are building our trailers have been building them for years—they know what they’re doing,” says Christina LaFleur, EZ Loader Office Manager.
LaFleur is a third-generation employee of the company. Her late grandfather, Larry Johnson, founded the company, and her father, Randy Johnson, is the current owner and President.
“My grandfather had a great mechanical mind,” LaFeur says. “He had an auto shop in the late 40s/early 50s, and there was a trailer manufacturer in the Midwest that would send knock-down (ready to assemble) trailers for the enduser to put together. A customer came into his shop, and there was a problem with the way the trailer was put together. Grandpa said, ‘Gosh, I could do better than this.’ He always wanted to make things work better.”
Johnson held many patents during his life, including the first “all roller” trailer, where a series of small rollers make it easier to load and unload the trailer. While he continued to improve the product and processes and expanded the business, his son, Randy Johnson (who has worked for the company in one capacity or another since he was in seventh grade) discovered a passion and talent for sales.
“My father, in conjunction with Grandpa, made EZ Loader a household name in the boating industry,” LaFleur says. “They made a good team with Grandpa as an engineer and dad as a great sales person.”
Johnson points to the constant desire to innovate and improve—with a focus on making boat trailers that are easy for everyone to use—as the keys to EZ Loader’s success, “along with service after the sale and keeping customers first.”
We have been fortunate to have loyal employees who share our passion in building quality boat trailers.
“Our family is very proud of EZ Loader and thankful we’ve kept it as a family-owned business for over 67 years,” he says.
For the 82 Boilermakers who work there, it’s also somewhat of a family business. It’s not uncommon for multiple generations to work for the company.
Ron Hays is a Boilermaker at EZ Loader, as was his late father David Hays. Ron Hays, who’s worked there for 19 years, hopes his 22-year-old son will join him as the third generation of Hays men to build EZ Loaders.
“People come here, and they stay,” Hays says. “It’s a really good atmosphere, and they’ve been really good to me. We have our moments, but we get through it; and for the most part everybody gets along with everybody. We have a good relationship.”
LaFleur agrees, noting the loyalty and longevity of employees. Thirty-year service awards aren’t uncommon there.
“So it’s a compliment when employees want to have their sons or daughters come work for us,” she says.
“They treated my dad really well. I always thought that when I grew up, it’s where I wanted to work—and that’s turned out great,” says Hays, who started as a builder, moved on to the aluminum shop and recently changed to a role in delivery and repairs. “I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else really.”
Adds Johnson, “[The Boilermakers] have been fair to us, and we have worked together well over the years. We work as a partnership and communicate very well.”
Hays likes the company, the work environment, the work itself and the pride of the finished products. EZ Loader turns out about 25,000 trailers a year. Boilermakers work in everything from fabrication to assembly. Aside from tires and just a few other pieces, everything is fabricated in house. The most prized final product is an adjustable trailer. Hays says it’s what sets EZ Loader apart as the best.
“Most other trailers out there are welded—one size fits most,” he explains. “Ours, we can adjust and fit.”
The company offers just about any combination of adjustable options, including rollers, bunks, pontoon, aluminum and watercraft. The options are mind-boggling (visit www.ezloader.com). And they continue to come out with new innovations and new design patents. The latest is an I-Tube/Beam Aluminum design that conceals brake line and wiring and adds additional strength and durability in EZ Loader aluminum trailers.
“We manufacture our trailers to last and be the safest and most reliable on the road,” Johnson says. “We have been fortunate to have loyal employees who share our passion in building quality boat trailers.”
While Hays doesn’t own a boat, he appreciates the product watercraft owners count on. He’s proud of the work he and the Boilermakers do at EZ Loader.
“It makes me feel really good when I see boat trailers out on the road, because I think, ‘I made that. I put that out on the road to be safe and help people enjoy life.’”