Arguably, few harbor desires of visiting anyplace hotter than Texas. But to such a sultry, sweltering locale is exactly where Cleburne business owner Casey Waits is bound, if he hasn’t left already.
“I looked the temperature up online just now,” Waits said Monday as he leaned back in a desk chair in his second floor downtown Cleburne office. “It’s 114 there now and supposed to be about that all next week. Very hot and very humid. We know hot in Texas. But over there it’s hot hot. It is super hot.”
Locally, Waits is best known as the Hot Dog King of Cleburne thanks to his ownership of downtown’s Loaf’N Dog Restaurant and its array of frankfurter options. Waits owns Burger Bar and Heroes Cafe as well.
But trailers put Waits on the map and predate his restaurant empire. Those same trailers are the reason he’s heading to Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
“Never been,” Waits said. “I’ve been to Mexico on vacation and Germany once but other than that never out of the country. I’m excited, but a little nervous. Sometimes people come and pick their trailers up, but I like to go meet my customers when I can. People think I take a lot of vacations but I’m actually driving trailers all over the country, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Louisiana. A friend of mine said, ‘I thought you went to Oklahoma.’ I said, ‘I did. Last night.’ So that’s what I’m doing even though I’ll stop and do something fun on the way back sometimes.
“Anyway, when I sold to Saudi I said I wanted to go over and meet them and they were all for it.”
Getting to that point took patience.
“Whole lot of paperwork,” Waits said on Monday. “Right now I’m waiting to hear back from them that my visa has cleared then they’ll send our plane tickets. I thought it would be fun to go on the boat carrying the trailers over but that would take about a month and there’s probably nothing on that ship other than freight. Would be an adventure though. I like doing stuff like that. Anyway, I might be leaving Thursday, or maybe this weekend. Just waiting to see.
“One of the things in the paperwork was a waiver basically saying you could be subject to the death penalty if you bring any drugs or alcohol in. Luckily for me I don’t do either one.”
Waits won’t be alone. His brother, Cody Waits, is tagging along.
“He was in the Army and over there and worked with their army and civilians,” Waits said. “So he knows the customs and lay of the land, where to go and where not to. Plus he’s good at dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s where I’m more, ‘Let’s load up and go’ mentality.”
Hitching on a dream
Waits’ previous gas and oil field experience — he worked in the operations management and sales fields — planted the seed for what would become Emergencytrailer.com.
“I noticed they bought a lot of trailers, shower trailers, office trailers, trash trailers, all kinds of trailers,” Waits said. “When the oil field slowed I came back to Grandview and went back to remodeling houses.”
But visions of trailers kept dancing in Waits’ head.
“I started to talk to Norm McMinn, a guy I’ve known a long time, this was about three years ago,” Waits said. “I told him I’d like to sell some trailers. He told me, ‘I’ll front you the first trailer. You sell it and we’ll just go from there.’”
Waits went on to sell more than 1,000 trailers. Through Emergencytrailer.com, Waits customizes trailers to customer’s needs and sells them throughout the U.S.
“Mainly oil-field related,” Waits said. “But we’ve done EMT trailers, bathroom trailers, cool-down trailers, which are good for outdoor and sporting events. One guy I know did a barbecue trailer not long ago and said he didn’t know we could do that or he would’ve bought it from me.”
Waits said he hopes to expand into increased local sales and customized options soon.
“We already customize and sell trailers for a number of uses,” Waits said. “The thing is, with my experience in the oil field, I already know what the flow back, chemical, security gate guys and frack guys need trailer wise.”
That includes recognizing and jumping on niche market opportunities.
“All the oil field guys go around in those pickups,” Waits said. “The trucks have the [diesel exhaust fluids] now, which affects the idle time and really kills those trucks by clogging up the sensors. The government doesn’t want these trucks to idle. Before, guys would go to the site, sit in their truck and basically that was their office for the day. You gotta keep the truck running cause it’s Texas and you don’t want to sit in the heat all day.
“So one of my selling points has been to get them out of the trucks and into trailers. I sell these little 5-by-5 trailers. Look like a ticket booth, but they have AC, a desk, windows so they can keep an eye on the workers. For the oil companies it cuts back on truck maintenance and so forth. We’ve sold, I don’t know, 700 or so so far.”
America was the start, not the endgame, Waits said, adding that he always dreamed of selling internationally.
“We sold some trailers to Canada about a year and a half ago, which were trailers we customized to move pumps around to make it easier to move water from place to place at well sites,” Waits said. “Didn’t get to go into Canada on that sale though. They met us at the border, hooked them up and went on.”
Waits said officials from the Saudi company, which he’s not at liberty to name, contacted him.
“The oil business is large, but it’s tight knit and word gets around,” Waits said. “I find it hard to imagine no one customizes trailers between Cleburne and Saudi Arabia but I’m not complaining. I think it’s a quality thing. In the oil business they want equipment that’s built well, doesn’t break down, does its job and they don’t have to worry about.”
Waits and others towed several Saudi bound trailers to Houston a little over a month ago and they arrived in Dammam last week.
“They’re shower trailers,” Waits said. “The second batch we’re sending is a little different. They will have sort of big cages around them so they can be picked up with a forklift or crane and taken to offshore rigs, which, that was another one of my goals to have trailers offshore one day. They’re going to see how they act in that climate but they’re basically like Yeti coolers with heat shields so they should work fine.
“I’m going to run through how they work with them, and it will be cool to see how things are over there compared to here. But my goal is to become their point of call and focus on becoming a service provider for them.”
Waits went so far as to customize his company’s logo for the trip.
Here, Emergencytrailer.com’s logo sports a tire with a cross, or plus sign, in the middle. The special-made logo retains the tire but replaces the cross with a date palm over crossed swords, symbols found on the flag of the armed forces of Saudi Arabia.
“Here people think Red Cross or the Christian symbol,” Waits said. “I went with their flag thing, which they thought was the coolest thing ever, for this trip, which will be the logo on our stickers and shirts.”
Waits said he plans to push customized trailer sales in other markets such as schools, fire departments, city and civic events and so on so as not to have all his eggs in one basket.
“Because the oil industry is such a rollercoaster that I’m wanting to diversify more than we already have,” Waits said. “Because we can customize trailers for any industry or event. Which is also why I’m excited about Saudi Arabia. When drilling activity declines here it goes up there and vice versa.”
Waits said he’s hoping to expand into Africa, Australia, Mexico and other international markets as well for the same reasons.
Waits reclined in his chair and let out a laugh when asked how he juggles a trailer company, three restaurants and family life.
“Well, that’s where finding good people comes in who can come to you if they have questions or need help but other than that can run things for you,” Waits said.