Wings of glory

Martin Toomey has two decades of automotive industry experience, having held prominent positions both locally and internationally. His previous roles include stints at Knorr-Bremse China as Managing Director, Eaton Australia General Manager and Sales Director at Scania Australia. He is also the Chair of ARTSA-i – an independent industry think tank that seeks to accelerate better decisions towards a safer more modern industry.

“I have been involved with the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) since 2003 when I was the General Manager for Bendix Mintex Commercial Vehicle Division,” he says. “I also act as a consultant to original equipment manufacturers and new market entrants, focussing on strategic marketing and M&A.”

In October 2018, Martin purchased Transport Equipment Australia (TEA), an established Melbourne-based company and niche player across on- and off-highway transport equipment sectors specialising in mining and industrial equipment components, light trailer axles, air brake systems and friction material applications.

Historically, Martin has had a long association with the Knorr-Bremse company.

Martin Toomey.

“They are experts at managing the quality process and this enables them to be very competitive,” he says. “Knorr Bremse Australia has a great team, from the General Manager, Michael Roche, to Gareth Lawless, Trailer Sales Business Manager, and Robert Bonnefin, Business Development Manager. All are supported by global and local subject experts and are very knowledgeable.”

Martin says Knorr-Bremse are very easy to work with.

“Dealing with Knorr Bremse was made a lot easier by their quick understanding of the opportunity and realising the importance of having a solution available at the right time to meet the shift in regulations and TEA’s timing to launch a particular product in May this year,” he says. “At every step, Knorr-Bremse brought the right people into the meetings, people who were empowered to make decisions and they got to know our business well.” TEA caters for a niche market segment involving plant equipment and Knorr-Bremse offers a multi-volt solution for the fitment of ABS.

“Light trailer builders are often specialist fabricators working in multiple end user industries, like construction, mining and customised engineering service,” Martin says. “They often don’t see themselves as a part of the road transport industry because it doesn’t define their business. So, when, in November 2019, the Australian ADR 38/05 came into effect for all new trailers over 4.5-tonne Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) to have ABS fitted, I was mindful that for many trailer builders this would create a lot of new problems. I sought to bring together a package of ADR-compliant trailer kits, incorporating axles, suspensions, brake systems with a multi-volt ABS, wheels and tyres. The package ideally suits what we define as light trailers, air braked and between 4.5-10-tonne. Knorr-Bremse were very keen to work with me to develop the control system which we have now launched. The name of the new solution is TOWACTIVE ABS, it’s a multi-volt 12/24V ABS system that can be towed by any imported or local branded vehicle. TOWACTIVE ABS is put into our brake kit which comprises the air tanks, valves, line and hoses; it’s a complete solution and removes the need to do anything other than fabricate the trailer and fit our kit.”

Knorr-Bremse also have a national network of TruckServices locations that can provide extra piece of mind for TEA’s customers as well as the trailer end user.

“This national support network was a critical part of our decision to partner with Knorr-Bremse,” Martin says. “We are relying upon Knorr-Bremse to help us with our brake kit valves and a full range of caliper products. We are currently supplying semi-trailer builders with complete brake kits including stability systems like trailer EBS. It’s quite a crowded market but we see our point of difference as working with low volume builders who value our knowledge and expertise and require a compliant solution without all the sourcing fuss of piecing it together yourself.”
Ultimately, Knorr-Bremse has been an important partner in business for TEA.

“I am a small business with big aspirations and I could not have developed the product or the service network needed to support it without optimising their scale,” Martin says. “I feel very privileged to have the support of Knorr-Bremse and their expert team. It’s like having a good wingman, you know they’ve got your back and at the same time they want to see your business grow, too.”