Founded by John Steptoe Evans (May 24, 1879 - September 6, 1945) in 1915, Evans Products initially manufactured wooden products.
A diversified company that produced a wide range of products (e.g., automobile storage battery separators, bicycles, broom sticks, fence posts, furniture, heating and ventilation units for airplanes and motor vehicles, and loading devices for airplanes, railroad cars, road and rail locomotives, and trucks), throughout the years, Evans made numerous business acquisitions.
With its introduction of innovative, steel coil service gondolas, Evans Products Company entered the freight car market in the 1960s.
Expanding its production to other types of railroad cars, by the 1970s, the firm had focused its efforts on insulated double plug door boxcar production.
Once railway groups, shippers, and Congress managed to convince the Interstate Railway Commission to approve an Incentive Per Diem system (which allowed short-lines, newly established leasing companies, and non-rail owners of new boxcars to charge a premium rate over that for class one railroad owned cars), having acquired United States Railway Equipment (USRE) and Southern Iron & Equipment Co. (SIECO) in the 1970s, manufacturing both kits and complete cars, the aforementioned pair of Evans divisions capitalized on America's supposed, late-1970s modern boxcar shortage.
Along with changing railroad rolling-stock needs, eventually deemed illegal, rescinding Incentive Per Diem resulted in a huge surplus of unneeded boxcars, which would wind up negatively impacting America's freight car builders.
By 1982, operating in the red, Evans' rail car shipments had declined by 60 percent.
In August 1987, ITEL Corp. agreed to purchase all of the remaining assets of the Evans Transportation Company (the latter of which had emerged from bankruptcy in November 1986), for around $300 million.
The acquisition boosted the newly formed ITEL Transportation Services Group leased car fleet of 19,000 rail cars to 44,000.
With new boxcars priced around $40,000 each in the mid-1980s, the average price that ITEL wound up paying for the Evans boxcar fleet worked out to be around $12,000 a car.
Following the acquisition of ITEL's container leasing business in 1990, a twelve-year agreement was reached in 1992, whereby GE Capital Railcar (who had entered the boxcar leasing business in 1989) would lease (with a purchase option) ITEL's 70,000 unit railcar fleet.