Trailer Magazine

Garnering growth in taxing times

  • From the August 2020 issue.
Garnering growth in taxing times

An Australian family-owned company that manufactures top quality trailers for the local industry, for more than 60 years The Drake Group has proudly played its part in keeping skilled Aussie workers employed during some challenging times.

It’s certainly not the first time The Drake Group has weathered the storm of a downturn in the economy – such as the present one caused by the coronavirus – and it’s a fair bet it won’t be the last.

The thing about rock solid transport equipment builders like Drake is that they supply the vital equipment to Australian transport businesses that are often required to maintain or even increase capacities during times of economic uncertainty typified by the present pandemic.

To do this they need reliable and fit-for-purpose trailing equipment which is precisely the reason why The Drake Group has remained busy cranking out a variety of trailers throughout the first half of 2020.

Drake Trailers was founded in 1958 at Rocklea in Queensland by Colin Drake. Colin had a strong desire to build Australia’s best trailers and used an innovative approach to design and develop better designs to meet operators’ needs.

This operating model has remained the company’s modus operandi to this day, with some of the current designs being evolutionary developments of revolutionary designs introduced many years ago.

The Drake 4x8 Swingwing widening lowloader which hit the market in 1969 is a prime example, another is the steerable platform trailer originally built for Brambles and introduced in 1980.

Then in 1984 the popular Deck Widener was released and the same year saw the debut of the Full Modular Steerable Transporter.

In 1985 the Full Widener made its debut with its main claims to fame being the ability to legally carry a 50-tonne payload and also ease of loading and transporting wide machinery thanks to the axles and suspension widening with the frames. The design remains an industry standard to this day.

The passion for the product shown by The Drake Group team members who produce the trailers is equally matched by many loyal customers, many of whom have been using Drake trailers for decades.

People like Peter Taylor, who owns Adelaide-based LCL Heavy Haulage.

Peter’s experience with Drake trailers stretches back to the turn of the century when he bought the first new unit which he still operates today.

It is a tri-axle Deck Widener with a self-tracking rear axle – a feature which Peter has specified on all his subsequent Drake trailers due to its ability to dramatically reduce tyre wear and road damage from scrubbing on turns.

“This original unit has travelled around two million kilometres in its lifetime so far and all we’ve had to do is replace the BPW self-steering rear axle,” Peter explains. “Every trailer in my fleet runs BPW drum brake axles – I won’t have anything else because the product is so durable and reliable. “One of our trailers is nearly 10 years old and has been doing around town work five to six days each week for its whole life and we have not touched the axles or replaced the brake linings.” 

Peter currently owns five tri-axle and six quad-axle Drake trailers, along with three dollies. One of the quads is a 4x8 Swingwing low loader with a 2x8 dolly and another is a 4x4 full widener.

One of the things that Peter likes about The Drake Group is a willingness to listen to customer feedback and he says the company’s people including Managing Director John Drake have always listened to his concerns and done their best to rectify or modify designs to improve the products in line with his requests and expectations. He cites the example of chain-down points installed on the decks of his trailers.

“I asked for a lot of chain-down points on the decks so I don’t need to use the side points because that damages the paint work,” Peter says. “In my book you can never have too many chain-down points on the decks.

“I’ve also started specifying lay-down ramps and the amount of fuel that saves is incredible,” Peter says.

Other special features Drake has been happy to incorporate, according to Peter, include steps and hand grips on the gooseneck to make it easier and safer to climb onto the decks and a nifty petrol can holder for the Honda powerpack.

“Another big highlight for me since buying my first Drake trailer 20 years ago is how much the painting process has improved since then. Drake has spent a lot of money on improving their paint systems and the result is a first-class finish – you couldn’t ask for better.”

Another thing Peter has in common with The Drake Group is a fierce loyalty for the Australian manufacturing industry, and he is proud of the fact that his fleet of mostly Volvo prime movers and Drake trailers are built in Australia.

“I’m very passionate about buying things that are made in Australia,” Peter says. “There should be more of it – we shouldn’t be relying so heavily on other countries, especially China, for our manufactured goods.

“When I picked up my latest Drake trailer I actually said to John Drake that I was going to put an ‘Australian Made’ badge on each side near the Drake badge on the gooseneck – he thought it was a great idea.

“Speaking about John Drake, whenever I go there he always finds time to come and have a chat which is something I really respect and appreciate. It’s not often that the Managing Director of a large company goes out of their way to speak with customers like that.”

Peter also has high praise for The Drake Group Salesman, Byron Foss, who he describes as “my favorite salesperson and a good, solid family man.

“That really goes a long way with me and is a big part of why I like dealing with The Drake Group; everyone there is extremely friendly and helpful,” Peter days. “It’s a strong Australian-owned family company with great people, great products and outstanding customer service.”

Fast Fact
The Drake Group has been proudly manufacturing a diverse range of trailers in Queensland since 1958. Its innovative designs have evolved over the ensuing years to suit a legion of Aussie transport operators who appreciate the quality of the products and the fact they’re built to withstand the toughest punishment this country can throw at them.

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