Stoughton Trailers family photoStoughton Trailers really is a family business. Shown are [seated]: Betsy Wahlin McClimon, director of the Wahlin Foundation;, Kate Wahlin Schieldt, vice-president of human resources, Don and Carol Wahlin; and Margaret Wahlin Blanchard, board member. Standing: Mike Wahlin, board member; Bob Wahlin, president; Bill Wahlin, executive vice-president; Ken Wahlin, managing director of STI Holdings, and Dan Wahlin, assistant controller.

It has been a memorable 2011 for Stoughton Trailers as a company and for the Don Wahlin family in particular.

In March of this year, the company put the trailer industry's recession into the past, reopening the last of the plants that had been shuttered when the downturn that was especially severe for companies that manufactured dry-freight vans. But the reopening of the Evansville, Wisconsin, plant signified the return of another manufacturing segment that the company had enjoyed success — production of domestic containers and container chassis.

But there were other milestones this year as well, including the company's 50th anniversary.

The company officially began in April 1961 when Don Wahlin, then a recent college graduate, bought the assets of his former employer — Stoughton Cab & Body. Wahlin initially called the company Stoughton Truck Body.

In the mid-1960s, the company got a slight name change — Stoughton Body Inc — along with a new addition to its product line — truck trailers. Not surprisingly, the truck body manufacturer's first trailer was for city delivery. Flatbed trailers followed in 1964. Popularity of vans and platforms product grew sharply, leading to another change in the company name. The company became Stoughton Trailers in 1973.

Today the company builds a wide range of trailers, containers, and container chassis in multiple plants in central Wisconsin. The company owns approximately 80 acres and has a total of more than a million square feet under roof.

Stoughton Trailers trailer worksNo longer the bankrupt company that it was when Don Wahlin bought it 50 years ago, Stoughton Trailers has grown into one of North America’s major truck trailer manufacturers.