30 years of experience return to lead Lucar
- From the March 2012 issue.
The rumours that long-established brand, Lucar Cargo Van, moved or went out of business are incorrect, the company announced. The manufacturing plant still resides at its Reservoir, Victoria address and facilitates quality production and repairs.
Established half a century ago by Don Gray, Lucar is still a family-owned business. However, due to Don’s illness, his wife Mercedes Gray is now acting as Managing Director, supported by well-known industry expert Paul Keogh as the company’s new Operations Manager. Under Paul’s guidance, the industry powerhouse has now made an unmistakable statement – Lucar is still up to the challenge, offering the best-performing range ever. “The family is well positioned to sustain the Lucar brand for an additional 50 years,” says Paul, who just returned to Lucar after a four-year interlude in the USA.
Paul Keogh is not unknown to Australia’s commercial road transport industry. As the company’s previous Workshop Manager, he has been an active part of the Lucar management for 27 years, during which he contributed to the brand’s on-going growth while managing the production floor.
“I definitely have a personal connection to the Lucar brand,” he says. “That’s why I decided to come back and help restore the brand.” While in a consulting role, just prior to his return, Paul realised industry perception of Lucar had changed and recovery was needed. “Although Lucar kept building a superior product, rumours spread that the business lacked experience, but that was false, as there are people here that can draw back on more than fifteen years in this trade.”
But, like many industries, the commercial road transport sector is not immune to rumours; and while most of them prove false, they can negatively impact the reputation of a business. To avoid any misinformation and long-term damage, Paul has now chosen a path of transparency. “By being available, responsive and as transparent as possible we want to undercut the rumour mill,” he says.
“Including my apprenticeship, I can draw back on more than three decades of experience in the industry, so I think my knowledge is critical to lead Lucar through this phase of business re-structuring,” says Paul. “I want to help the company re-establish its solid reputation and remind the market that we are still the powerhouse we used to be.”
Only half a year after Paul’s return, the Lucar workshop in Reservoir is now humming along at full capacity. “We have hired additional staff as demand is rising constantly,” says Paul. “We are actively training people through apprenticeships to establish a future-proof workforce. Forging ahead at this speed, it is necessary to think forward; and we also think that training the next generation is a great service to the industry as a whole.”
Although he does not intend to re-invent the wheel, Paul is already busy revamping the existing Lucar design to add that extra bit of versatility. “We are currently re-designing some components to create a modular system that will make it easier to individualise each project and modify existing stock.” Lucar is also active sourcing state-of-the-art building materials, such as Brianza Plastica’s fiberglass laminate and Henkel adhesives.
According to Paul, Lucar’s competitive advantage is its flexibility. “We’re a company that focuses’ on quality over quantity. Our goal is to build the highest-quality Australian made trailer in the refrigerated transport market,” he adds. “Every Lucar trailer is manufactured for longevity. We also intend to expand our production line to cater to the oversize line haul market; and also increase their repair business.”
Paul and his team are already energetically applying to tenders and are pleased by the positive feedback they have received from their clients. “Lucar still is a well-trusted brand that has been around for 50 years. The transport industry appreciates such expertise,” Paul concludes. “We’re a hands-on business that is very close to the transport industry. We listen to what is needed in the field and translate that knowledge into volume production. Now it’s time to let everyone know that we are as strong as ever, re-establishing old relationships and building new ones!”
Lucar Cargo Van was established in 1960 by Donald E. Gray and was known in the industry as D. E. Gray Sales. Don began manufacturing standard table top bodies, dry freight and insulated vehicles, as well as aluminium cargo vans out of a small garage in Collingwood, Victoria.
Today, located in Reservoir, Victoria Lucar’s expertise is in building and repairing refrigerated transport equipment and dry freight vehicles in various forms, built to customers’ specifications.