Morley, Mo., company manufactures dump truck bodies, snow and ice removal equipment

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Dillion Evans, welder for Viking-Cives Midwest, welds a bumper for a truck Wednesday at the company's facility in Morley, Mo. Viking-Cives Midwest is a truck equipment manufacturer that makes dump bodies and snow and ice control equipment. (Elizabeth Dodd)

MORLEY, Mo. -- When many of Southeast Missouri's roadways were nearly impassible or shut down during January's ice, sleet and snow storm, general manager Steve Rider and a handful of other employees of Viking-Cives Midwest were doing their part to help ensure a speedy recovery.

A subsidiary of Viking-Cives Inc., Viking-Cives Midwest manufactures dump bodies and snow and ice removal equipment. It also installs related attachments.

"While a January snow storm doesn't translate into an instant boom for us because so many crews place orders months ahead of time, we did deliver a few extra parts to Missouri Department of Transportation crews who needed more of our products during that time," Rider said. "In the ice storm our area was without power but we were able to deliver the parts to the crews.

"We're a service business," he said. "When our customer needs it, we provide."

In addition to MoDOT, the company serves Cape Girardeau and other municipalities throughout Missouri. The company also serves a few other communities in the Midwest and the nation.

Ralph Parker, truck installer for Viking-Cives Midwest, tests the orange strobe lights for a lift truck with dual steering Wednesday at their facility in Morley, Mo. Viking-Cives Midwest is a truck equipment manufacturer that makes dump bodies and snow and ice control equipment. (Elizabeth Dodd)

The company was founded by Everett Wheeler and was known as Wheeler Steel Works. It originally made farm dump bodies, then transitioned to producing grain dump bodies. When Viking-Cives purchased the company in 2006, the name changed and the company began making its current products.

Rider said most municipalities order items at the beginning of their fiscal years. He said the busiest periods are between late summer and the end of the year because that's the time most municipalities have set their budgets.

Depending on the number of orders received, Viking-Cives Midwest makes between 200 and 400 dump bodies each year inside its 67,000-square-foot facility off U.S. 61. The facility consists primarily of two buildings, one that was built 13 to 14 years ago and another that was constructed six months ago after a fire severely damaged an older building in 2002.

Rider said the most significant change since the company was founded has been in the technology. Advances include programmable controls that sense vehicle speeds for a quicker operation, tow plows that clear more road with fewer vehicles and electronic plow and body controls.

While the industry has changed, Harry Delles, operations manager at Viking-Cives Midwest, said the company has remained relatively stable in its workforce. Fifty-five employees work for the company.

David Brummett, truck installer for Viking-Cives Midwest, welds parts for a hoist basket for a dump bed truck Wednesday at their facility in Morley, Mo. Viking-Cives Midwest is a truck equipment manufacturer that makes dump bodies and snow and ice control equipment. (Elizabeth Dodd)

"Our work force is steady because we work with our customers to schedule their work to meet their needs without major changes in our manpower," Delles said.

Rider said it takes 65 to 85 man-hours to make a dump body and 200 to 300 man-hours to complete an installation.

The process begins as raw steel is cut and shaped into pieces using a high-definition plasma table, a machine that uses a highly accurate plasma torch to cut plates, or a press brake, a piece of equipment capable of bending and forming the plates.

Fabricated parts are then sent to welders who build the dump body or snow plow by joining various pieces together.

When the item is completed, it then is sandblasted, primed and painted.

The final step is the installation of the dump body onto the truck's framework.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

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Pertinent address:

22956 US 61, Morley, MO

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