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Craftsmen Industries offers array of Possibilities
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For more than 40 years, Craftsmen Industries has been the market leader in the design, engineering and fabrication of custom industrial mobile solutions, experiential marketing vehicles and large-format graphics. The company is known as the largest fabricator in the fair and festival realm and supports more than 200 employees with expertise across fields such as design and engineering, in-house graphics, electrical, plumbing, paint, G7 Master Printing, 3D fabrication, concession trailer design, bunkhouse design, ticket box design, Roll-O-Vend trailers and ticket kiosk construction. The team of craftspeople behind the scenes enjoy building from the ground up, utilizing and combining their talents with the latest technologies to create top-notch products. Craftsmen Industries has their main plants located in the St. Louis region as well as a fair and festival-specialized plant in Highland, Illinois.

In 2017, the company acquired the Shantz Manufacturing assets and in 2020, they acquired Chester Built Trailers. Subsequently, Craftsmen's facilities feature three different branches, but they are all tied together and viewed as being part of the same team, fitting under one umbrella.

According to Craftsmen Industries Owner, Mark Steele, Craftsmen, Shantz and Chester all have shared dedication to providing customers with the best-in-class product innovations and service.

“We are thrilled to now offer that threefold to our customers,” he shared after combining all the companies.

Adding the three businesses under one umbrella has allowed Craftsmen to fully invest in the outdoor amusement business industry and make a long-term investment in the company as well as the industry, with a goal of accommodating requests and bringing an unmatched level of satisfaction to customers as a one-stop-shop. The combination of all three businesses helps to bolster the selection of top-quality concession features and has proven to be an excellent model for customers.

They can also offer more capacity with extensive manufacturing capabilities and outstanding printing and graphics services, providing amazing resources for the fair and festival markets. Customers turn to the company because the warranties on products can all be found in one easy-to-access place. Having multiple manufacturing options under the Craftsmen Industry umbrella has continued to benefit everyone involved – the customers most of all, as the three-in-one factor also offers different price points and buyers don't have to feel uncomfortable when making purchasing decisions, since all their favorite products and designers are now under one cohesive company name.

The original founder, Joe Helmsing, and Steele have known each other for more than 20 years. Steele's son Seth also works with the business. The original owners of Shantz Manufacturing and Chester Built Trailers, Mike Shantz and Clay Chester, are still involved with their respective teams. Craftsmen Industries, Shantz Manufacturing and Chester Built Trailers have all been happy with the merger over the last several years, as the people behind the scenes share many of the same views and the joining under one name has opened up doors for all three businesses. Being able to sell products from all three companies at the same time, in one cohesive place, has continued to prove highly successful for all involved.

When it comes to innovation, Craftsmen Industries strives to stay on top of the game.

“Something we are always excited about is the patented retractable wheel system,” shares Seth Steele, business development manager for the company. This wheel system, designed by Shantz, provides customers with a brick-and-mortar experience when they visit a concessions trailer that features the technology. The trailers provide the lowest counters in the industry and the finished product looks more like an actual building instead of a trailer.

“We are also working with LED marquees and digital menu boards,” Steele adds. “We want to integrate more technology into the units, including security cameras and cradle points.”

He shares that the company has also been in talks to expand its footprint in Highland, Illinois as well as branching out and opening up East & West Coast operation opportunities.

Seth Steele says the team is looking forward to upcoming events, Gibtown in particular.

“We thoroughly enjoy going to Gibtown every year and getting to visit with everyone face to face and see them every year,” he says.

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