Trailer Magazine

Entering a new chapter

  • From the June 2018 issue.
Entering a new chapter

STR Truck Bodies, Trailers and Towing Equipment has diversified its range, delivering its first trailer made fully in-house – a three-axle dog tipper. This represents an important step for the company, as it expands into dog and semi trailer manufacturing, with several orders already underway.

Started by Matt Palmer in 2008, with just three employees, STR now operates from its purpose-built facility in Dandenong South, employing over 40 people.

STR moved to its current facility in late 2016, not far from the EastLink freeway and just a stone’s throw from where it all began, enabling the business to really ramp up its production. At 3,600 square metres, it is more than twice the size of the original manufacturing facility.

With additional truck bays and larger spray booths, as well as a designated spare parts division, this move has allowed STR to streamline its production and increase its output.
STR evolved from a truck smash repair, modification, and paint and panel business. Matt originally focused his attention on repairs and modifications prior to launching STR, but as the truck body building part of the business grew, it left little time for repairs and modifications. Now the manufacturing side of the business continues to grow in leaps and bounds. The company produces everything from tilt trays and tippers to curtain-siders, council service vehicles and semi trailers. Staying true to its roots, however, STR still does its own painting for all of the truck bodies and trailers its produces.

According to General Manager, Howard La-Faber, the business has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years. “STR has more than doubled its size in the past 24 months as we’ve expanded our offering. We have been supplying trailers for the past three years or so. We were manufacturing the tipper bodies, mainly from Hardox, but we used to outsource the rolling chassis. Now, we are building everything in-house,” he says.

STR produces a wide range of mild steel and Hardox tipper bodies, with the aim of supplying a high quality and durable product to the market. The company typically produces around five Hardox tipper bodies a week.

“The rigid side of the business is what we were focused on for a while, but the skillset for building trailers was already there among our staff. In the past 18 months, we’ve really progressed with our trailers. After approaching a few of our customers, the trailer orders have been coming through. The first trailer to be fully designed and built in-house was delivered in May, and the customer has a second one about to be delivered too.”

The two identical three-axle dog trailers signify the company’s expansion into the dog market. Featuring a Hardox body, they will be used to cart sand, soil, gravel and rock throughout far north Victoria. 

Howard says STR is proud to have delivered its first three-axle dog trailer to the market, which represents over eight months of engineering design work. “Our engineering team has done months of structural testing using the latest FEA technology in the process. We have looked at numerous dog trailers and consulted with many customers over the past 18 months,” explains Howard.

The new trailers feature 6m bodies with a 6mm Hardox floor and 5mm Hardox sides, front and rear wall. The rolling chassis is made of high tensile 350 grade steel and was optioned with Hendrickson Intraax AAL250 low ride drum brake suspension, chosen for its light weight, low maintenance and durability. They also feature a Mega Pacific 4-stage hoist, a Jost ball race turntable and towing eye, and a Wabco TEBS ADR 38 braking system by supplied by Air brake Corporation.

“This is just the starting point for STR. Along with three axle dogs, we will also be producing 4-axle dog trailers. Then the next step is rolling out our first fully in-house built 3-axle semi-trailer. We have already started the build process and currently have two in build for the one customer, which are due for completion soon,” Howard adds.

“We will still continue to supply our customers with van and curtainsider bodies, but plan to focus a great deal of our attention on the tipper trailer side of the business too.”

Fast Fact
Originally operating as STR Truck Bodies, the company was rebranded as STR Truck Bodies, Trailers and Towing Equipment in 2016, to coincide with the move to its new larger premises. Previously an exclusive body builder, STR achieved certification to begin manufacturing trailers too in mid-2016.

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