Shop Tour by: Big Al Liebmann
I had the opportunity to visit Dennis & Susan O’Brien - owners of O’Brien Truckers on a trip to New England. Dennis started his part-time business making the “No Club Lone Wolf” car club plaques, belt buckles and finned aluminum engine accessories back in 1978. The very first item Dennis produced was a “No Club Lone Wolf” (NCLW) car club plaque. He poured the aluminum out of a small pot in our old barn in North Grafton, Massachusetts. To this day it is still a top selling plaque from our stock plaque & topper table. They now sell an entire line of NCLW items: t-shirts, jackets, hats, hat pins, key chains, belt buckles, small plaques, Toppers. lake pipe caps, ornaments, wind-chimes etc. Not to mention that they have Sold Over 105,000 kustom car club plaques and belt buckles to 3,000+ car clubs all over the world.
O’Brien Truckers started there line of finned aluminum valley covers, finned air cleaners, fuel filter covers, regulator covers, spark plug covers, coil covers, HEI distributor covers, radiator cap covers, lake pipe caps in all different styles and many other items. Once you bought one finned item you were hooked and had to buy the matching items to make under your hood look “Kool”! During the 80’s they came out with the HEMI valve covers, Hildebrandt oil filters and TPI air cleaner covers. In the 80/90's Dennis acquired all of the original patterns from two car club plaque manufacturers of the 50's and 60's - 4100 from Speed Gems of Minneapolis, Minn. And 8,000 from Chicago Metal Craft of Port Chicago, California. When you add those patterns to the 3,000+ we've done that gives us the world's largest collection (by a factor of three) - over 15,000 car club plaque patterns! Once 2000 came around they were producing cast aluminum backing plates and Buick like drums to make your front end look just like an early Ford. But, the car club plaques, belt buckles and key chain orders for car clubs is still a large part of our business and keeps us on their toes making the camera ready artworks, patterns and then the final product.
In 2000 they moved the aluminum headquarters from their small kitchen in North Grafton, MA to Sue’s dream home in Charlton, MA. All Sue has to do is roll down the stairs in her PJ’s and she’s back to being the Customer Service Specialist/Office Manager/Shipping Coordinator guru of OBT World Headquarters. Her office digs are much nicer and her inventory room is no longer in the attic above her screened in porch! And, Dennis just heads out the back door and after a quick walk is at his 9,000 square foot R & D and manufacturing facility.
Dennis finally retired from his full-time day job after 36 years in the high tech world and can now give 100% of his time to O’Brien Truckers and his family. This business will continue to grow especially when we update our web site and go live with an on-line ordering system – only issue is not enough hours in the day and not enough employees to fulfill those orders.
When Dennis exhibited at their first NSRA York, PA event it was in the front corner of the building and it was a 10x10…we now have a 10x40 at York and a 10x60 in Louisville. The good ole’ days of TyRods and CSRA swap meets to vend their items just didn’t cut it anymore after vending at KKOA & NSRA events. This is a family business and it includes some extended family too that make it a success at each of the events – without the extended help of friends and family it would be very difficult to pull this off!
Den & Sue have been happily married now for 42 years and have one daughter – Tracey Lynn (O’Brien) Coleman that resides in Bristol, CT with her husband Billy Coleman of Borgeson Universal and their only grandchild Kathryn “Katey” Coleman the Aluminum Princess! There aren’t too many third and fourth generation street/hot rodders out there… Let’s keep up the interest and keep on truckin’ as Den always says!
Thanks to Dennis & Sue for Company History and the Shop Tour. I have to say it was one of my favorite place to Stop. …NJoy the pics ..Big Al
Thanks for a great shop tour Al!