Hartford Truck Equipment — Preserving a standard of excellence

By Bob Miller, NTEA Director of Outreach

This article was published in the July 2016 edition of NTEA News.

Hartford Truck Equipment (South Windsor, Connecticut) was founded in 1994 by Pat and Lynn Brannon. This husband-wife team originally worked at Consolidated Utility Equipment Service Inc. (CUES) for Lynn’s father, George Tyler, who started the company in the mid-1960s. When Amherst, New Hampshire-based CUES expanded into Connecticut, Pat became branch manager, and Lynn served as office manager at the new location. George sold the company in 1992, and Pat became a managing owner. Two years later, Pat and Lynn decided to launch their own business.

Initially, Hartford Truck Equipment consisted of Pat, Lynn and one installer on a 0.4-acre plot, with a single building serving as the general truck equipment house. Although the business is still in the same location, it is expanding as the owners acquire surrounding properties and add more work space and storage capacity.

Hartford Truck Equipment staff. Front (L to R): Tim Silver, sales manager; Blake Brannon, owner; Derek Brannon, owner; and Greg Leone, sales. Back (L to R): Doug Bushkoff, service manager; Ray Fortin, installer; Scott Essary, installer; and James Rowett, installer.

The company is positioned in Hartford County at the intersection of Interstate 291 and Route 5 — centrally located with easy access to all state highways. Currently, it sits on nine acres, with 11 employees; four buildings; 5,000 square feet allocated to the main office and shop; and 20,000 square feet of warehouse storage.

Hartford Truck Equipment in South Windsor, Connecticut.

Soon after inception, Hartford Truck Equipment decided to focus only on products for trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or less, and this targeted approach continues. Company products include dump bodies, platform bodies, utility/service bodies, snowplows, salt spreaders, truck-mounted hoists and cranes, liftgates, truck caps, ladder racks, special lighting systems, auxiliary fuel tanks, toolboxes and truck accessories.

Service body with a crane.

The owners’ children have been involved in the business off and on from the beginning. After high school, their oldest son Blake managed the parts counter for a few years, before continuing his education at the University of Connecticut. Upon earning an accounting degree, he returned to work in the office. Following graduation from Lincoln Technical Institute, their son Derek joined the team as an installer/fabricator, serving in this role for seven years before taking the shop foreman position. 

In 2013, Lynn unexpectedly passed away due to cancer, and 10 months later, Pat was involved in a car accident that took his life. Given these unfortunate events, Hartford Truck Equipment was suddenly faced with transition, moving into second-generation ownership. Derek took over scheduling and service management, and Blake covered front office responsibilities and sales operations. Though forced into this challenging situation, the Brannon brothers were supported by a great team of employees, including several staff members with more than 10 years of industry experience.

Derek and Blake are on the heels of two years of record growth. They have started expanding a neighboring property to add a new 17,000-square foot building, with updated offices, a showroom and 10 more installation bays, scheduled to break ground soon. With this development, Hartford Truck Equipment is looking for ways to diversify, complementing current business offerings with other products and services.

Despite the difficulty of losing both parents, Derek and Blake have continued building and improving the family business, preserving a legacy of success in the truck equipment industry. In recent years, they developed a sub-dealer network to more effectively support their customers. The company has also won several excellence awards from equipment suppliers.

For more information about Hartford Truck Equipment, visit hartfordtruck.com, call 860-290-9516 or stop by 67 McGuire Road in South Windsor.