Trailer Magazine


Howard Porter

Howard Porter

From its early days spent building coaches in the 1930s, Howard Porter has grown to become a well-respected trailer manufacturer catering to the needs of the Australian transport industry.

The business was started by Howard Porter himself in Fremantle, Western Australia and was owned by the Porter family up until the early 1990s. After several changes in ownership, Howard Porter was acquired by Giulio and Roy Lombardi in 2004. Together, they brought the business back to life, helping to make Howard Porter the successful trailer manufacturer it is today. Building on over 70 years of trailer building experience, the company has increased capacity significantly by streamlining production processes and investing heavily in plant, equipment and staff.

A need to focus on a range of core products was recognised and Howard Porter focused its efforts on tipping trailers and tipping rigid bodies. Howard Porter’s Sales Manager, Jason Bell explains, “By knuckling down into the core products and core product segments, we were able to strengthen the business and regrow it into a position of strength in the industry.”

In 2006, Howard Porter acquired SFM Engineering which was another body builder based in Perth, Western Australia. Combining both businesses gave Howard Porter a greater manufacturing capacity and allowed the business to venture further into repair work, including the repair of trailers involved in severe accidents such as rollovers. As SFM Engineering was also involved heavily in the manufacture of stock crates, these too were added to the product line.

By this stage, Howard Porter was operating very well in its core product segments and decided to expand its product offering, building everything from low loaders, dollies and flat tops, to skels and extendables – all designed to withstand the Australian operating environment. As well as these additions, Howard Porter was able to increase its repairs and modifications service and now employs approximately 160 employees.

“We are continuing to invest in product development to ensure that we have the best quality products available in the Western Australia market.”

A greater capacity to produce trailers and a strong focus on design, tare weights, reduced maintenance costs and after sales service eventually led to the single biggest event in the company’s history – a contract to produce 320 trailers in only 38 weeks for the Chevron operated multi-billion dollar Gorgon Project off the north-west coast of Western Australia. With this project just completed, it has been hailed an absolute success.

“We hope to continue this consolidation of the market segments we are working in as well as a real foray in the general freight market. We have streamlined our production methods in flat tops and drop decks and skel trailers which all formed part of the Gorgon Project – and we can build these trailers at a rate and quality that is unmatched in Western Australia,” adds Jason.

“ The products we build are designed to last, we have the capability, flexibility and capacity to produce trailers that suit the local market.”

To help Howard Porter cope with its growth, there has been a gradual expansion of the Spearwood facility over the last 18 months which will enable all processes to be completed under the one roof. “We have everything in-house, including cutting and bending our own steel. As well as adding more product lines, we are continuing to invest in product development to ensure that we have the best quality products available in the Western Australia market.”

He adds, “We have our own design engineers, quality people and machinery. We invest heavily in our people, procedures and tooling to ensure we produce the best quality products in the best timeframes.

“We invest heavily in our people, procedures and equipment to ensure we produce the best quality products in the best timeframes.”

“Howard Porter trailers are designed and built to the highest standard using the best available products and materials and the highest level of safety. Customers can expect that the product will be designed to their requirements and delivered on time – providing durability and long-lasting performance.”

The factory expansion is now nearing completion and is expected to be finalised by the end of this year. 

Howard Porter is also planning to extend its dealer network on the east coast in order to provide product support Australia wide. Already Townsville Trailer Sales has been appointed as a dealer, and Howard Porter plans to further expand this network into Victoria and New South Wales.

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