Steve Reeder: Fame and Fortune in Weston, Idaho
Reeder didn’t set out to become the owner of one of the largest companies in southeast Idaho.
Steve Reeder, a native of Weston, Idaho, says he “gypsied all over the Western United States trying to find fame and fortune” after graduating from college. Ironically, you could say he found it in, of all places, his hometown.
But Reeder didn’t set out to become the owner of one of the largest companies in southeast Idaho. In fact, some of his children were already finished with high school before he even started his business, Trails West Manufacturing of Idaho Inc., which produces horse trailers and a large line of other products.
Starting a Business
Reeder got his start in the industry when he worked for Fleetwood Enterprises, one of the world’s leaders in RV manufacturing at that time. After 10 years there, he decided to take his family back to Weston to work on the family farm.
“I liked to say, ‘We’re not raising crops; we’re raising kids,’” Reeder says. “The farm wasn’t large enough to support the lifestyle that I and my family were used to, but it was a good place to raise a family, and that’s primarily why I went there in the first place. It was a good opportunity to give the kids a work ethic and to be able to spend a lot of time with them in a work setting.
But seven years after leaving Fleetwood Enterprises, Reeder recognized a business opportunity. A company in Preston, Idaho, that manufactured horse trailers had recently gone bankrupt, leaving a crew of workers with no company. He hired them to help start his own business manufacturing horse trailers, and Trails West officially opened for business in June 1987.
Continuing to Grow
His business grew progressively through those first few years. Even now, almost three decades later, it continues to grow.
“In the very early years, I can remember thinking if we could just get to a point where we could build $65,000 worth of product per week, that would be a real milestone,” Reeder says. “Our weekly production has been in six figures now for a long time.”
As useful as Reeder’s prior experience in manufacturing was when starting the company, he says the people who work for Trails West are its greatest asset.
“I think one of the key elements to the success of the business is our management group,” he says. “I think it’s really important to select the right people to help you run your business. We also have an excellent workforce in our manufacturing facility. We’ve always tried to create an atmosphere where we’re one big team trying to create and market a good product.”
Reeder and his wife don’t take a lot of pleasure in material things. Instead, they use their money to support the community — though Reeder’s hesitant to talk about it.
“Mostly, what we do is fairly behind the scenes,” he says. “I don’t want any recognition for it.”
The Reeders and Trails West have given generously to local schools, supporting both the construction of new athletic facilities and helping elementary schools purchase books and playground equipment.
“My wife and I just figure that where we’re in a position to make a difference in the community, we try to,” Reeder says. “Both Weston, where we lived before, and Thatcher, where we live now, are communities with a lot of really good people.”
This article was originally published in the September/October 2015 issue of Community magazine.