Trachte History: Over 120 years of business.

Founded in 1901, the company has a rich history of metal building construction. Trachte’s early structures are easily identifiable by their barrel-vaulted roofs, serving as garages, aircraft hangars, gas stations, restaurants and more through out the Midwest. Trachte’s early structures can still be found throughout the Madison area and are considered by many to be an important part of the area history. Today, Trachte is the top producer of self storage buildings in North America, with buildings in all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering complete design and building services. In addition to stand-alone buildings, Trachte designs, manufactures, and installs components to convert existing buildings into self storage businesses.



Trachte brothers, George, age 21, and Arthur, age 19, travel from Watertown, WI to Madison, WI to pursue work. Both have become experienced apprentices to the tinsmith trade. At the age of 14 and 16, respectively, George and Arthur began to learn the trade of “tinner.”


With a capital investment of $200, the Trachte brothers rent 600 sq. ft. of space at 233-235 King Street and open Trachte Brothers Sheet-Metal Workers. Their first order is for $10 worth of dippers and pans from Madison Candy Company. The city directory lists the brothers as being Madison’s youngest businessmen.


Trachte Brothers Co. moves to a larger space at Bedford and West Washington Ave. near the Illinois Central Depot.

  • 1900


    Trachte brothers, George, age 21, and Arthur, age 19, travel from Watertown, WI to Madison, WI to pursue work. Both have become experienced apprentices to the tinsmith trade. At the age of 14 and 16, respectively, George and Arthur began to learn the trade of “tinner.”


    With a capital investment of $200, the Trachte brothers rent 600 sq. ft. of space at 233-235 King Street and open Trachte Brothers Sheet-Metal Workers. Their first order is for $10 worth of dippers and pans from Madison Candy Company. The city directory lists the brothers as being Madison’s youngest businessmen.


    Trachte Brothers Co. moves to a larger space at Bedford and West Washington Ave. near the Illinois Central Depot.

  • 1910


    Trachte Brothers Co. designs and patents a roll-forming machine to manufacture corrugated livestock water tanks. Their new design of packing and riveting tanks instead of using solder revolutionizes the tank industry.


    Trachte Brothers once again outgrow their space and purchase a former bicycle factory at 102 N. Dickinson St. in Madison, WI. This will be the company’s home until 1985.


    Trachte Brothers Co. is incorporated and publishes its first catalog illustrating the company’s line of tanks and heaters. The catalog lists 131 different sizes and styles of stock tanks plus feed troughs, mortar boxes, oil storage tanks, and feed cookers.


    The first Trachte steel structure is built to house an automobile, Arthur’s new Dodge. The garage was a crude design using corrugated steel panels. This striking novelty attracted considerable attention from friends and neighbors. Soon, Trachte was manufacturing a more sophisticated version made of angled steel, iron framework, and corrugated sheeting. An 8′ x 16′ garage sold for $100 FOB Madison, WI.

  • 1920


    Trachte Brothers begin to market their steel buildings throughout the Midwest and southern states. In the south, the fire-prone wooden structures housing cotton gins were soon replaced by steel Trachte buildings that could withstand the threats of weather and fire damage. With that, the product line began to take on new shapes (and sizes) with structures for warehousing, gas stations, restaurants, airplane hangers, automobile dealerships, store fronts, and even summer cottages.


    The 25th Anniversary Catalog is published to showcase Trachte’s complete line of steel products. A 40′ x 80′ addition is added to the factory to house the carpenter shop.


    On August 22, a Trachte airplane hangar houses Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis during his visit to Madison’s Penco Field.


    The concept of self storage begins to emerge. In print ads, Trachte positions this fertile opportunity to investors by describing the buildings as portable steel garages that could shelter the “more than 20 million motor cars without homes”. Potential investors began to realize the incredible possibilities and the concept of self storage as an investment was born.


    Trachte employees vote on a three-day work week to keep all employees actively employed during the Great Depression.

  • 1930


    Trachte introduces the “modernistic cornice” mansard/facade for storefront designs. The design is intended to provide an art deco appearance to the company’s barrel-vaulted roofs.


    The company produces a 48-page catalog featuring its entire line of products, including garages, warehouses, service stations, industrial buildings, and farm buildings. The catalog also highlights Trachte’s doors including panel, sliding, and overhead.

  • 1940


    It wasn’t until after World War II when metal buildings gained widespread public acceptance. At the forefront of the metal building craze was the Quonset Hut. The popularity of the Quonset lent well to Trachte’s barrel-vaulted roof buildings with corrugated siding. Soon Trachte’s commercial and industrial buildings were marketed through a national dealer network. Trachte buildings became familiar sights as companies such as Oscar Mayer, Schappe Pontiac, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Standard Oil, and Sinclair Oil considered them ideally suited to meet their needs

  • 1950


    Trachte Brothers Co. changes its name to Trachte Metal Buildings Company

  • 1960


    Dave Trachte forms an building company which currently exists as “Trachte, LLC” in Oregon WI with a web site of

    The Oregon, WI company remains separate from  “Trachte Metal Buildings Company” which became today’s Trachte Building Systems in Sun Prairie.


    Lawrence “Red” Walters, a former officer of Trachte Brothers Co., approaches Trachte to manufacture and install the new A&W Root Beer pagoda design for his restaurant in Edgerton, WI. This was the first A&W steel pagoda built in the United States.


    Trachte Metal Buildings Company is sold to Paul Lindau. Manufacturing steel buildings for the fast food industry becomes the company’s mainstay. Clients include Kentucky Fried Chicken, A&W Root Beer, Shakey’s Pizza Parlors, Lum’s Family Restaurants, Dairy Queen and Wendy’s. Complete self-contained modules, including restrooms, kitchen equipment, wiring, etc., were built in Trachte’s plant and transported to locations throughout the United States.

  • 1970


    Trachte enters the self-storage industry by pioneering one of the first all-steel mini-warehouses in the country. The first mini storage building sold is located in Green Bay, WI. The structure is composed of angle iron framing.


    Trachte Metal Buildings Company changes its name to Trachte Building Systems, Inc.


    Trachte sells its first mini storage building outside the United States. The facility is located in Edmonton, Canada.


    Robert Trachte retires as President. As son of founder Arthur Trachte, he is the last Trachte family member to be involved in the company’s operation.


    The company sells its first two-story mini storage building. The facility is located in Glendale, California.

  • 1980


    Trac-Rite® Door, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trachte, is incorporated. Trac-Rite will manufacture steel roll-up doors for self storage and light commercial applications.


    Trac-Rite Door introduces the Guardian I Lock as an option on its steel roll-up doors.


    Stephen Pagelow purchases the majority control of Trachte Building Systems, Inc.


    Trachte purchases six acres of land in the Sun Prairie Business Park and begins construction of its 40,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility. On November 4, the company moves to its new location.


    Trachte expands its manufacturing plant with an additional 9,000 sq. ft.


    The Micro Storage Unit is introduced serving portable storage needs of owners and renters.


    Trac-Rite Door introduces the Guardian II Lock as an option on its steel roll-up doors.

  • 1990


    Trachte redesigns its standard self-storage building to include a new 18-gauge header and jamb system. This improvement eliminates the need for exterior bolts giving the building a clean, finished look.


    Trachte enters into an agreement with Fire Facilities Inc. to manufacture the company’s line of steel fire training towers.


    The manufacturing plant is expanded adding 18,000 sq. ft. to the facility.

    Trachte wins Mini Storage Messenger’s Facility of the Year award for Satellite Self Storage located in Ocean, NJ. The project is a two-story self-storage facility built over two existing one-story buildings.


    Trachte expands its plant again adding 23,000 sq. ft. for a total of 100,000 sq. ft.


    In February, the company launches its first website and benefits from a sale from this medium.

    Trachte introduces a free seminar program on how to develop a successful self- storage facility. In its first year, the company hosts six seminars throughout the United States. The seminars appear to be successful and become part of Trachte’s value added service offering.


    A help line is established to assist contractors during the installation process. Contractors can call the Tech Line to speak directly to knowledgeable Trachte staff regarding construction specifics, ensuring the project is properly assembled.


    Trachte purchases a cut-to-length line and a folding machine allowing the manufacture of longer parts. Shortly after, the Boat/RV building is introduced.

    An alliance between Trachte and VP Buildings is announced. The partnership is formed to provide VP Building’s distribution network of over 1,000 dealers a quality line of self-storage buildings.

  • 2000


    Trachte purchases Fire Facilities, Inc. As the leading provider of steel fire training towers to the fire industry, Fire Facilities nicely complements Trachte’s core competency of delivering quality, customized building solutions to its targeted markets.


    Trachte celebrates 100 years of business. The occasion is marked by an open house at the company’s headquarters on September 14. A candlelight vigil is held in honor of the events of September 11.


    Trachte receives the Certificate of Recognition award from the State of Wisconsin – Department of Workforce Development for successfully improving its workplace injury rate. Trachte’s workplace injury rate is now better than the statewide incident average for companies within the same industry category.


    An initiative to expand the manufacturing facility begins. Approximately 27,000 sq. ft. is added. The manufacturing plant now exceeds 116,000 sq. ft.



    Trac-Rite Door introduces the SpaceGuard latch and cylinder lock as new features on its steel roll-up doors.


    CSA-A660 Quality Certification is attained mid-year which ensures Trachte meets Canadian building code requirements and design standards.

    In August, Trachte employees purchase the company and form an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP). The newly formed ESOP is tested severely by the recession of 2007 to 2009, but ultimately emerges as a stronger company. This ESOP will become a significant source of wealth generation for long term Trachte employees.

  • 2010


    The Small Business Administration now allows loans to self storage businesses for the first time. The availability of credit to self storage developers helps the industry to begin recovery from a construction slowdown that began in 2008.

    Trachte purchases former competitor Tech-Fast buildings.


    With sales restored to record levels, Trachte’s manufacturing floor receives new and updated equipment. Benefits include lower energy consumption and faster manufacturing speed.


    Trachte subsidiary Trac-Rite develops a new robotic manufacturing cell for roll-up doors. Known internally as the ADT (short for Automatic door table) and paired with a new panel rollformer, the robotic system eliminates a significant amount of manual material handling while increasing the company’s capacity. The robotic system goes through a series of improvements in following years to increase speed and reliability.

    The new panel rollformer brings an additional benefit of forming a more precisely rolled panel, improving the operation of installed roll up doors.

  • 2020


    Trachte Building Systems, Inc. announces the acquisition of three related businesses located in Vernon, Alabama:  Roof Mart, LLC, Made Right, LLC, and Metal Land, LLC.

    This acquisition provides Trachte Building Systems with a new operating platform that will improve its position as the leading resource for self-storage building systems, steel curtain doors, refurbishment services and public safety training systems. It will also provide the required resources to accelerate the growth of Roof Mart and Made Right Buildings.

    The Roof Mart companies were started by Robert McNees in 2004 and are based in Vernon, Alabama. Roof Mart and Made Right manufacture and market metal roof panels, wall panels, trims, trusses, sheds, and post and beam building packages. They also erect post-frame buildings.

    Also in 2020, Trachte proudly paid off the remaining debt associated with becoming 100% employee owned. As a debt free and employee owned company, Trachte invests for long term success, not short-term quarterly profits.


    To accommodate growing demand, Trachte Building Systems opened a new distribution center in Sun Prairie, WI. The second facility is located just 5 miles down the road from Trachte’s headquarters. This recent expansion will allow for them to increase productivity and provide faster lead times.