Fruehauf Group is a leading manufacturer of semi-trailers and trailers for trucks. Fruehauf produces more than 4,000 semi-trailers annually, giving it a dominant position in the French market at over 20%.
In 1914 Fryderyk M. Sibley Sr. was on his way to the plant of August Fruehauf, he didn’t know yet that their
coope-ration would literally change the face of world transport. The case was both simple and complicated.
Fryderyk had recently bought a beautiful sailboat and it had to be trans-ported to the lake in an efficient
manner. But how? Travel by train was out of the question, the equestrian transport took far too long, and
Frederick Sibley hated delay. That same morning, he hit upon the idea of using a recently pur-chased Ford Model
T. On reaching his destination, he ener-getically opened the door to August’s plant.
The orders began to flow with such intensity that in 1918 Au-gust founded his first company: Fruehauf Trailer
Company. Two years later, the company’s turnover reached one million dollars, and 10 years later it was one of
the largest internatio-nal companies with 9 production plants and 88 branches aro-und the world. The innovative
approach to transport allowed the company to quickly launch its first automatic couplings, vans, revolutionary
suspension and pneumatic lift, but also the first refrigerators, cisterns, dump trucks and sea conta-iners …
Recalling only the most groundbreaking inventions.
Fruehauf vehicles appeared in Europe only in 1944 with the August looked intently at Mr. Sibley as the latter
described the situation to him. He thought quickly and technically. In ge-neral, the idea was good, but crazy.
The production was quite a challenge for him, but they were in America, where every-thing was possible. At least
that was the premise that August had arrived here with and he had been working diligently on his reputation for
years. He knew he was a great craftsman. He always put the quality of his work first and his clients seemed to
appreciate it. But this project went beyond anything he had ever seen before. It was about creating something
completely new, and – August could feel it through his skin – something great. “We’ll see what we can do,” he
said dryly to Frederick Si-bely, “Please give us some time,” and he walked away towards his longtime
collaborator and friend, the extremely creative Otto Neumann.
Drawing on the already rich experience gained in repairing carriages, August and Otto got to work. They decided
not to use the then popular system, but to develop a completely new harness system. Thanks to it, the vehicle
could easily trans-port more weight, it was also more maneuverable and allowed the driver to perform all
maneuvers more easily. The friends removed the entire rear of the Ford and installed what would become a
coupling plate in the place of the rear seats. Such a set easily transported Mr. Sibley’s sailboat. It also
turned out to be a rousing success for most local businesses who saw this solution as a real savings in time and
money. In 1916 August already offered single and double-axle trailers as well as se-mi-trailers.
Allied landing in Normandy. The American military used them until the end of the war as an effective means of
sup-plying soldiers at the front. The trailers left on the old conti-nent were bought by Raoul Massarda, who
took care of their further sale. Along with the growing interest and correspon-dingly increasing duties, in
cooperation with the American company Fruehauf Trailer Company, the first assembly plant for vehicles imported
from the States was built already in 1946. 1958 saw the establishment of an ultra-modern produc-tion plant in
Auxerre, which in 1975 employed 2,000 people and produced 700 vehicles and 800 containers per month! Subsequent,
sometimes great and glorious, and sometimes difficult and turbulent adventures of Fruehauf in France was well
described by Gérard Buard in an article that appeared in ‘On the Road’ in the fall of 2019. For over 6 years,
Fruehauf has proudly belonged to the Wielton Group and looks to the future with confidence.