Outside the norm

Kennedy Trailers was established in Bairnsdale, Victoria, in 1980 by Garry and Debbie Kennedy, when Garry had just finished his apprenticeship as a boilermaker and bought an old Falcon utility to repair timber-working machinery in the bush. In the beginning, the company’s head office was his parents’ garage, but it soon became apparent that it was not practical to have heavy machinery in his parents’ driveway all week.

So, in 1982 Garry and Debbie purchased a block of land and erected Kennedy’s first workshop. In 1986, they built their first log trailer, laying the foundation for a story of success and in the 1990s, the Kennedys invented the celebrated folding skel that can hydraulically fold onto the prime mover.
By 1992, the company had outgrown the original workshop, so Garry and Debbie moved to a new factory in Kyle Street. By 2000, Kennedy Trailers was producing about 50 trailers a year and was employing 30 staff.

But, when the industry slowed down about a decade ago, the family business decided to establish a second mainstay and ventured into building side tipper trailers for the gold mining industry in Western Australia.

The keen move soon paid off, but it was the involvement of Garry and Debbie’s technology-savvy sons Lynden and Cory that gave the new division a genuine boost.

“We didn’t just want to push for more growth, but tried to lay a solid foundation for the company’s future development,” Cory recalls.
“Therefore, we invested in research and development and streamlined our production process to reduce manufacturing cost.

“Today, even long-established brands like Kennedy face heavy pressure to stay at the forefront of technology,” he explains. “That’s why we had to establish a new, transparent business structure that would allow us to produce a high quality product at low cost.”

The innovative spirit of the Kennedy family continued in 2014, when it approached east Gippsland company, Whelans Group Investments, with a new idea to revolutionise the safety of tippers and potentially save lives across the earthmoving and construction industry. One year later, the EjeKTa trailer was born, using a hydraulic motion to remove a load from the trailer, overcoming dangers associated with lifting and tipping.

The design won the Health and Safety Invention of the Year award in the 2015 WorkSafe Victoria Awards, adding to the recognition of Kennedy’s manufacturing experise garnered when it won the East Gipplant Business Award for manufacturing in 2014.

Far from its beginnings in the garage, Kennedy Trailers has gained renown as a boutique brand, celebrated for its innovative spirit and ability to think outside the norm to build unique trailing equipment that cannot be found anywhere else.

Industry Icons
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers, Industry Icons is a new series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of commercial road transport.

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