Jake Baggett started welding trailers in his backyard for sale 21 years ago, and success has followed him ever since.
In fact, the Piedmont native’s success eventually became more than he wanted to handle on his own. In October, Baggett sold controlling interest in Stryker Trailer, formerly Baggett’s Trailer Connection, to a Montgomery investment group to continue the success and growth he started.
The company has already announced an expansion that’ll create 25 new jobs next year.
“I give all the credit to God,” Baggett said of his success in a recent interview. “I feel like I’ve been blessed ... everything has always worked out good.”
Stryker produces all-purpose trailers and haulers in a plant on Alabama 21 north of Jacksonville and has more than 30 employees.
“We have low prices and good quality products,” Baggett said of why demand for the trailers continues to grow. “And we know how to run a business efficiently.”
Baggett, 44, said he had planned to take an early retirement after the sale, but the investors convinced him to continue working for a few more years as plant manager.
“I was running the whole business by myself and the demand had gotten too great ... now I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stress,” Baggett said with a laugh.
The married father of two was working at Garcy Manufacturing in Piedmont as a welder when he decided to make his first trailer in his backyard.
“I actually needed a trailer for myself to use,” Baggett said. “Then someone wanted to buy it, so I did another one.”
Baggett said he spent a year making trailers part-time before deciding to create a full-fledged business.
Baggett sold his very first trailer for $400. That same trailer design now sells for $1,600. The company generated $7 million in gross sales last year.
Also, the company now has 90 dealers and produces around 75 trailers a week based on Baggett’s original designs.
“I never thought it would grow anywhere this big,” Baggett said of the company. “When I started I just figured it would always be a part-time thing.”
Making Stryker the success it is today wasn’t easy, but Baggett has no regrets.
“It makes me proud to have something like this around here,” Baggett said. “I want to be a part of it to help it double in size and I want to see it grow and prosper.”
Staff Writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.