CLARION - Bruce Reed, owner of SIC Metals and Fabrication in Clarion, told Paint Township supervisors last month he would deliver an $18,500 heavy-duty trailer the township ordered in November of 2019 by the board's July 21 meeting.
The CLARION NEWS visited Reed's CARGOMAXXX manufacturing shop July 15 and found the trailer is nearly ready to go.
Reed, working alone as his employees never returned after the COVID-19 pandemic, said he needed about 10 more hours of labor to finished the tilt-bed, equipment hauling trailer.
"It will be ready (by the time of the meeting)," said Reed. "Everything -- except the hoist is built in-house. The axles, the bed, they're all built right here. This trailer will be ready."
Paint Township supervisors ordered the trailer in November of 2019. The delay in its delivery has caused debate and heated accusations at some of the meetings of the board of supervisors.
"I feel bad it's taken so long," Reed said while he worked on the trailer. "But it's really been out of my control. I got the order in and as we geared up, bam, the pandemic hit."
Reed said tariffs imposed on some material by the Trump administration was already making it hard to get certain needed aluminum and steel parts and when the COVID emergency hit in March of 2020, state-mandated shut-downs complicated the situation.
While the shut-downs affected supplies all over the country, Reed himself came down with COVID-19 and a bout of Lyme Disease.
"Someone turned me in for working during the shut-down it's been a rough time," said Reed.
Reed said he paid his employees to build the Paint Township trailer but after the COVID shut-down, those employees did not return and he has been working alone on the Paint Township order and other contracted projects.
Reed said he will lose money on the construction of the trailer. Being a Paint Township resident, he said he gave the township the very best price he could and now that price looks like a losing proposition.
Reed said he will honor the deal, though.
"Right now, the biggest problem I have is supply," explained Reed. "The hoist for (the Paint Township trailer) was made before the pandemic it was pre-ordered. But it still months to get it."
Reed, 42, still feels the effects of his battles with COVID and Lyme Disease, which have left him feeling weak some days. He said he arrives early at the shop each morning and works as long as he is able.
Reed said he has been building trailers for 20 years. He was working in Florida building experimental aircraft and working in heavy construction when he "ran into a fella" who was building trailers.
"I helped design and build a couple a couple of trailers with him and I guess it took off from there," said Reed.
Reed returned to Pennsylvania and worked for a local trailer manufacturer before striking out on his own.
Reed has designed and built trailers for NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense and for several overseas countries and companies.
"I've built thousands of trailers," Reed said.
Reed said he is disappointed in the negative comments offered by one Paint Township supervisor during the trailer saga.
"I'm an open book," said Reed. "I've got nothing to hide or be ashamed of."
Reed and Paint Township Supervisor Don Clinger had a heated debate after the June meeting of the board of supervisors and supervisor Jeff Corcetti and township legal counsel John Marshall had to step in between the two men.
"I've had a lot of people tell me they support me," said Reed. "It's (tough going) right now, but I'm getting through it. There have been a lot of positive comments from a lot of good people."
Reed said he intends to deliver the trailer to Paint Township July 21.
"Then I'll move on the next project," said Reed. "I'm still here and I'm still building trailers."