F. Barkow Case Study for Custom Vehicle Design

By Stephen Purdy, 03/31/23

Few companies know more about the transport of commercial glass than F. Barkow Inc. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Founded in 1879, the company has spent nearly 150 years dedicated to the custom design and build of vehicles built to carry the glass, marble and granite sheets typically used for everything from large, expansive windows and store fronts to sliding doors, entranceways and luxurious countertops.

Starting more than a century ago delivering sheet glass to local dealers via horse-drawn carriages, F Barkow now constructs about 40 vehicles a year – all custom-tailored to the needs of clients ranging from small plate glass distributors to leading industry manufacturers.

“As a niche supplier servicing a niche market, we are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of our clients, which in many cases includes the transport of glass sheets that are typically 10 to 12 feet wide and 10 feet high,” says John Weise, the company’s owner and president for the past 25 years. “Dependability, security and the safe delivery of these products are the hallmarks of our stellar reputation. A single chip in the glass during the delivery process would make the entire sheet unusable.”

F. Barkow Apitong Shiplap in Custom Vehicle
On a monthly basis, F. Barkow constructs 3 to 4, 9- to 20-foot-long trucks, vans and semi-trailers. This includes custom-tailoring each carrier according to the weight and type of the product being hauled. As a result, the entire design process extends from the specification of the racks and the space needed to safely haul each glass sheet to the vehicle’s hardwood flooring.

“We tried other materials like oak, but found that Apitong shiplap deck boards work the best with our trucks and trailers.” said Weise. “Less dirt and grime seep through the decking seams, which means the glass arrives onsite cleaner and neater. Plus, the Apitong shiplap deck boards are not as hard as other materials. So, the glass is less likely to chip or fracture if it slips in the truck or improperly secured.”

However, in recent years F Barkow had the increased problem of obtaining the Apitong shiplap at an affordable cost. That was until TrailerDecking.com, based outside of Portland, OR with warehouses across the country including Memphis, TN, responded to F. Barkow’s request for 1-1/8" x 7" Genuine Apitong / Keruing and Brazilian Apitong / Angelim Pedra deck boards.

“We immediately knew we had the exact solution to their dilemma when John Weise and F. Barkow reached out to us,” explains Stephen Purdy, TrailerDecking.com’s sales manager. “This included not only having the Apitong shiplap deck boards they needed in stock, but also saving them money in the process. This is not only our job, it’s our specialty. We understand the needs of the trailer decking industry like few others and constantly work to make every customer a return client. That’s why we stand out among many of our peers as an elite supplier of Genuine Apitong, Keruing and Brazilian Apitong, Angelim Pedra deck boards as well our Apitong Oil high-quality wood finish and related supplies.”

A common wood species found in South East Asia and regularly provided to customers nationwide by TrailerDecking.com, Keruing or Genuine Apitong has been used for trailer decking purposes since the 1960's due to the wood’s unique mechanical and physical properties. This includes the best strength to weight ratio of any commercially harvested species and the well-deserved reputation of being a naturally-durable, long-lasting wood that’s ideal for repairing or replacing truck, van and flatbed trailer decking.

“We’ve worked with TrailerDecking.com to complete the build about 100 custom vehicles over the past few years,” added Weise. ‘Always reliable, they’ve’ become our go-to supplier for Apitong shiplap decking. Lighter and more workable than the products we used previously, the Apitong shiplap also looks great stained or unstained. We’ve also never received a complaint from our customers and have always been impressed with the durability and longevity of TrailerDecking.com’s products and the dependability of their services.”

By Stephen Purdy, 03/31/23


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