From paddock to plate

Based in Ipswich in south east Queensland, Wilpak is a family business that last year celebrated its 30th anniversary. The business was started by Darren Wilson. Though it initially served as a beef, lamb and pork wholesaler to butcher shops, nowadays it’s all centred around pork, which is its number one specialty.

“With the business, everything changed over time,” says Darren’s son Zach Wilson, who manages the boning room and factory. “Dad decided to move only into pork because he had a good connection with local pig farmers and the people he supplied to. There were a lot of other companies specialising in lamb or beef, so saw it as a good opportunity to specialise only in pork.”

Key to the company’s operations are its farms and its boning room, which processes the pork, ready for delivery to smallgoods producers and other food service businesses.

Wilpak operates a pig farm, which is home to up to 13,000 pigs. The farm is run by Darren’s daughter Alli Dougall and son-in-law Stuart Dougall. A second farm is currently being built, which will be run by Darren’s son-in-law Nathan Wilson.

Along with its own farms, Wilpak also works with an additional 10 local farms each week. Pigs are transported using the business’ two Byrne livestock trailers from the farms to an abboitoir in Kingaroy, approximately two hours away, before making their way back to the boning room and factory, where they are prepared for distribution to Wilpak’s clients.

While livestock trailers are required to transport the live animals, a fleet of refrigerated FTE trailers (seven semi trailers and two rigids) carries the pork. The Wilpak fleet services the Queensland customer base, with contractors used to carry its product into New South Wales and Victoria.

Wilpak takes great pride in its fleet and pays close attention to the equipment it selects. BPW is the axle and suspension of choice, used across the fleet in every one of the company’s trailers, and also specifies BPW Transpec EBS.

“We purchase our refrigerated trailers and bodies through FTE because they are good to deal with and build a quality trailer using quality equipment. We get good life out of them so we stick to them,” Zack says.

He joined his father’s side in the family business in 2005, after finishing his schooling. “Since I’ve been at the factory, we’ve only ever had BPW axles and suspensions.”

Wilpak takes great pride in the fleet, with equipment typically upgraded every four to five years. “We get a lot of people wanting to buy our trailers before we’re even ready to sell them because they know they are very well looked after. Every weekend, one of our drivers who has been with us a long time, likes to come in and clean all of the trucks, and he takes a great amount of pride in it,” Zack says.

“With BPW running gear we’ve never had any trouble. Even though we upgrade our fleet regularly, we still see of the trailers we’ve sold out and about and the BPW gear just keeps on going.”
Wilpak has also purchased a new 22-pallet refrigerated meat hanger trailer from FTE that’s due for delivery during March. Featuring stainless steel rails and walls, the trailer is designed with versatility in mind – so it can be used to carry pallets too when needed. It will be equipped with BPW axles and suspension and a Thermo King refrigerated unit.

“When you’ve got good running gear, it’s a headache you don’t need to worry about,” Zack says. “We buy good quality equipment and looking after it, and that means less downtime. If you know you have good equipment, you don’t need to worry about having ongoing problems and maintenance issues.”

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