CURT Manufacturing has gone a long way from being a small startup business in a basement in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in the 1990s until today. It has earned its distinction as a top-of-mind choice when it comes to towing products for a wide range of applications, including automotive, truck hitches, and commercial towing systems.
The story of how CURT began is enough to inspire people who dream of having their own business someday without much capital to bank on.
Curt Tambornino had nothing but the determination to start a business and his then-girlfriend Tammy by his side when he established CURT Manufacturing (then called C & T Distributing) in 1994. The two bought 9,000 trailer balls from a supplier and sold them to retailers out of the trunk of their Eagle Talon.
Why go into a towing business? Curt had wanted to go beyond what hitch manufacturers were doing at that time-simply dousing or dipping a hitch assembly in paint before selling it. He experimented with the look of the hitch so that it looked like it was an actual truck accessory rather than just an add-on. The result was a glossy powder-baked finish that made the hitch assembly look as though it was part of the vehicle.
In 1995, Curt and Tammy took a chance in a large truck show in Las Vegas and showcased their entire inventory of three bumper hitches and six trailer balls. Soon, orders came pouring in, prompting them to step up immediately.
From only two people struggling to keep the business afloat around 20 years ago, the company has grown into a team of 350 workers working for one of the leading makers and marketers of premium towing products. It now owns a manufacturing and warehouse facility as big as three football fields combined (approximately 130,000 square feet) and a corporate headquarters in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Product innovation and quality
The company knows where to invest its resources to come up with products that best serve its market's needs. For example, it uses advanced CAD software for designing hitches to ensure that they exceed industry standards.
CURT's engineers use the Finite Element Analysis, an advanced computerized testing system that examines the structural integrity of new hitch products before they go into production.
To keep itself relevant in the market, the company constantly updates its designs for ball mounts and receiver hitches. Every year, Curt releases from 100 to 120 new products.
Making its production process and quality control more efficient is the 100% robotic welding technology that CURT uses for its hitches and ball mounts.
A noteworthy innovation that CURT introduced to the market is the OEM-compatible fifth-wheel legs that fit RAM 2013-2014 truck beds with towing prep package. The fifth-wheel legs feature anchors whose position can be changed so that the fifth-wheel hitches can be dropped easily into the under-bed.
It is no wonder why CURT has been awarded twice as Wisconsin's Manufacturer of the Year. The company is not content offering the same thing over and over. It constantly finds ways to reinvent itself.