Apart from having driven past the shop in Seadrift at least a thousand times, and having owned a couple over the years, I never really knew all that much about Coastline Trailer Manufacturing until interviewing founder and president, Marty Strakos, for this article.
Marty showed up to our lunch appointment at Bubba’s Cajun Seafood in a Carhartt jacket that had seen better days, and a faded ballcap. He has Popeye forearms and workingman’s hands. He did not appear to have stood too near a razor in a while. I was OK with all that, having spent thirty years in the rough and tumble steel forging industry. Marty’s a hardworking man and I have great respect for a muscular, calloused handshake.
Marty founded Coastline in 2004 for a very good reason. “Growing up,” he said, “with my dad being a fulltime hunting and fishing guide, most of the maintenance work to keep his outfit rolling fell to me and Paw-Paw; Dad was always busy on the water and in the field. I learned a lot from Paw-Paw. He could fix anything. If he couldn’t fix it he’d build something better.
“I can’t tell you how many broken boat trailers I worked on,” he said. “Finally,” I said, ‘”What we need is better trailer.’” And that’s how it all started.”
Coastline’s beginnings were meager, as many small manufacturing enterprises are, “But we grew pretty fast. People recognized a better trailer,” Marty said.
Today, Coastline is the most prolific builder of boat trailers in Texas.
I asked what he meant by “better” and Marty said that a better trailer begins with better materials.
Beefier gauge aluminum in frame rails and crossmembers. Heavy-duty 304SS fasteners to reduce dissimilar metals corrosion between fasteners and frame members. The best galvanizing process available on hubs and other steel components. Soldered and shrink-wrapped electrical connections. Optronics submersible grade LED lights. American-made couplers, winches, and jacks come out of Nebraska. Kodiak 5-year warrantied stainless steel disc brake rotors and calipers.
“Material cost is a huge part of the selling price, so building a boat trailer is a low-added value business. Lots of builders fall victim to excessive cost-cutting to enrich the profit margin; but we don’t,” Marty quipped proudly. “That’s what a better trailer is all about. That, and careful attention to detail at every step of the building process.”
Marty went on to explain the importance of custom, hand-fitted, welded bunk brackets and bow stop assemblies. “We weld everything we can rather than bolt things together. Bolting is quicker and easier but welding is more reliable in the long run.”
Continuing with bunks, he said they use #1 Grade above-ground treated lumber exclusively, and higher grade bunk carpeting than other builders. Bunk boards are attached with stainless lag screws, and stainless staples secure the carpet to the boards.
“Safety on the highway is always our greatest concern. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration lays down guidelines but we build above the basic specifications in many ways. The last thing you want to have happen is your boat getting loose and careening down the highway,” he explained.
More on the towing safety aspect, Marty says that too often the boating public puts unwarranted faith in the winch strap. “That strap is really only there to help getting the boat on the trailer. You also need a chain and turnbuckle to the bow stop, and properly-sized transom tiedowns to keep the boat on the trailer during an emergency.”
Coastline is dedicated to using American-made products. “Rockwell American makes the best torsion axles available to the industry…and they’re made here in Texas. That’s the only axle we use,” Marty explained. “Of course the axle tubes are galvanized steel, per NHTSA specs, and you can’t get around that, but we also use the best grade of galvanizing on the torsion arms. Little things like that make a big difference.
Trailers for popular boat models are custom-built and assembled per blueprints from Coastline’s extensive files, but they also build custom one-off trailers. One-off projects include lifting the boat with their 30,000 pound gantry-style crane and making careful measurements of the hull to insure the bunks are fitted correctly to support the boat properly on the trailer.
Other custom packages include black anodized frame rails and crossmembers, and Coastline’s signature Big Man Fender Steps. “Add black aluminum wheels to that frame anodizing and you have a really sweet-looking rig,” Marty stated proudly. “Not every builder goes to that extent to accommodate the buyer.”
If the proof of a pudding was ever in the eating, consider the list of Texas boat builders that trust the Coastline brand: Majek, Haynie, Mosca, Tran Sport, El Pescador, Mowdy, Freedom, Dargel, Shallow Stalker, Simmons, Shoalwater, Catalyst, JH Performance, Flats Cat, American Airboats, Turner, Desperado, Panga, and many more. Boat dealers, too numerous to mention, have also learned to include Coastline Trailers in their rigged boat packages.
All these boat builders and dealers just might be onto something. Take the clue…If you’re thinking of a new boat trailer…think Coastline!Coastline Trailer Mfg. – 306 N. Main – Seadrift, TX – 361-785-4073 – www.coastlinetrailermfg.net