ONE of Australia’s biggest trailer companies has started to expand its local manufacturing content and boost the size of its Australian facilities following strong demand for trailers across a broad range of industries.
This demand has tightened supply and pushed delivery of new trailers out to unprecedented times.
AAA Trailers, which recently turned 10 years old, this week started moving into new — and substantially bigger — premises in Perth to cope with demand.
Company director Daniel Bull said Australia has a “major shortage” of trucks and trailers that can extend to up to seven years.
“For the agricultural sector, for example, we simply can’t supply enough grain trailers,” he said.
“So we have made the decision to increase the size of the Perth factory and ramp up local manufacture so we can cut delivery times.”
Mr Bull said AAA Trailers, which has its business in Perth and Sydney, tried to hold as much stock as possible.
“We normally hold around 500 to 600 trailers in Australia as a minimum,” he said.
The trailers are designed and engineered by AAA Trailers in Australia and then the basic construction is carried out at its factory in China.
Trailers are then built up in Perth and Sydney and then distributed to company branches.
“Melbourne will be our newest one so that would mean trailers would arrive from China as ‘flat packs’ to the Melbourne port and then they would also start building them, the same as Perth and Sydney at the moment,” he said.
“Basically they come in as flat packs and in Australia, we assemble axles, bearings. wheels, electrical wiring, brakes and so on — everything really that needs plumbing and hardwiring.
“So we employ mechanics, engineers, welders, painters and other trades.
“The biggest thing for us is we have full control over our factory in China. It supplies some other businesses but we are by far the biggest customer.
“As an average, we sell about 30-45 trailers per state each month.
“Demand is soaring. In February we supplied about 70 trailers — we’ve never had those sort of numbers before.”
Mr Bull said the trailers were made for pretty much every industry “so we have trailers for nearly every purpose.”
“If there’s sufficient demand, we will look at getting into new business with different trailers.”
The local manufacturing will allow AAA Trailers to expand into custom building. Mr Bull said it is only a very small part of its current business but believed it would benefit customers if they had that option.
“If a customer needs something, we try to help them get it done,” he said.
“This year, we have had requests from customers for a different style trailer called a quad-axle.
“I did some research and found out that buyers were having to wait up to seven years for delivery, so it went to our engineers and we worked out we can get them here in four months.
“So we’re up and running with that trailer now.”
Mr Bull said building trailers carries significant compliance regulations.
“It’s very strict,” he said. “The process involved about three months worth of paperwork to get any type of trailer on the road.”
Trailers must also comply with different state regulations. NSW have lower load ratings than WA, for example, which Mr Bull said was the reason a lot of eastern states buyers purchased their trailers direct from the Perth office.
“A higher load rating means more load capacity which means more profits for the transporter,” he said.
With the new facility now open in Perth, AAA Trailers will start its local manufacturing there with Sydney to follow.
“Most of that is attributed to the Western Australian resources industry which is a large part of AAA Trailers’ customer base,” he said.
He said that the biggest seller is the side-tipper trailer with quality and a competitive price being the reason for its success.
“Nobody can beat us on quality and price with competitors generally around $30,000 more expensive than us,” Mr Bull said.
“But price isn’t what we’re chasing. We want to boost the quality of the trailers.”
Trailers cost anywhere from $35,000 through to about $265,000, with an average of about $100,000.
He said AAA Trailers was also looking at growing the business into other cities.
“We're slowly building branches. We are in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and are looking at expanding into Brisbane.
“Then we will look at Adelaide. We already have representation in the Northern Territory but we see potential in having our own factory there in the future.”
AAA Trailers employs about 20 staff in WA and an extra 25 in other states. Mr Bull said the increase in work will need more staff, expecting an additional 10 people for the Perth facility by the end of the year.