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Proudly Australian by Vawdrey

Proudly Australian by Vawdrey

Nearly 50 years ago, Mick Vawdrey started building truck bodies. Today, Vawdrey Australia is the country’s leading manufacturer of quality semi-trailers and original equipment, putting thousands of new semi-trailers on the road each year. Its customers include Australia Post, StarTrack, Freight Lines Group, and Mainfreight (NZ).

The business designs and manufactures in Australia at its Dandenong facility in Melbourne’s southeastern logistics hub, custom-making equipment for Australian operating conditions.

Vawdrey Australia produces everything from parts to curtains and signwriting and has repair and service workshops in Queensland and New South Wales.

Vawdrey believes that their unwavering focus on quality and Australian manufacturing has paid off over the years. “Everything is about quality. Everything we buy, we buy the best. If we can buy it Australian, we will. Everybody knows that our product’s better than our opposition’s, and it’s got to be.”

He reveals that another key to their success is change. “If you can keep ahead of everybody else, you are better off. We have geared ourselves around change, which is the company’s biggest asset.”

The company’s appetite for change has paid dividends when faced with competition.

“Others have tried to buy me out quite a few years ago, but I wasn’t for sale. Then they said they’d squeeze us out and beat us on price and everything else. We decided the best way to stay ahead was to strengthen our engineering. That was the only way we could keep ahead of them, and it worked.”

The company’s list of advances includes the Wingliner, a futuristic semi-trailer with a folding side door, the automatic mezzanine desk system, and an automatic, buckle-less truck curtain.

The firm also brought the performance-based standards framework to the general and refrigerated freight markets, helping Australia’s road transport community strengthen its position as the world’s most advanced.

Every time Vawdrey salespeople go and look at jobs, the team looks at how to improve trailer use and design and build it more easily.

This commitment to quality and innovation drives growth, with the business opening extra lines this year to meet demand. For many of the 60-plus Vawdrey team members, Vawdrey was their first job, and they have stayed.

“I am proud of our team: many have been with us since they were kids. We are a team, and we instill that in everybody. We look after the product, which looks after the customer, so they come back,” Vawdrey says.

Australian-made is so critical to Vawdrey that ‘Proudly Australian by Vawdrey’ appears on every semi-trailer they produce.

“Australian-made means everything to me. If we can use Australian, we do. I don’t care if it’s a little dearer. We’re proud to be Aussie-made and supplied.”

Quality Australian aluminium is an integral part of Vawdrey products; every semi-trailer roof is aluminium, and extrusions for dry and refrigerated freight.

“Aluminium is light, strong and doesn’t deteriorate. It fits our purpose – it flexes, so it works with everything. It’s ideal on the roofs of the trailers; it just moves,” Vawdrey notes.

Vawdrey Australia chooses to work with Capral and has done for more than 20 years.

“We buy the best. That’s why we use Capral aluminium. Capral’s quality is second to none, it’s cost-effective, and we have a good working relationship.”

Capral’s ability to customise extrusions and deliver on time is critical for the Vawdrey business. Capral also adds value to many of the products supplied to Vawdrey, including predrilling extrusions, saving many hours on the production line.

“We depend on Capral as much as our own blokes,” Vawdrey emphasises. “If you have a good working relationship, it helps with everything.”

He reminisces that everything was made in Australia when he was a lot younger.

“We made our own cars, our own trucks. We made Australia. Semi-trailers are about the only thing on the road made in Australia, which is sad. Let’s hope it changes.”

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