Drake cel­e­brates 60 year an­niver­sary

Owner Driver - - Tech Briefs -

BACK IN 1958, when a cou­ple­hun­dred horse­power was a big deal and trail­ers had a frac­tion of the pay­load they do to­day, an en­gi­neer by the name of Colin Drake set out to change the game.

Af­ter start­ing a trailer re­pair busi­ness in Bris­bane, it didn’t take long for Colin to re­alise there was a need in the mar­ket for well-built Aus­tralian trail­ers, par­tic­u­larly low load­ers.

“He very quickly be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing flat tops and drop decks,” ex­plains Drake Group busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ager Sam Drake, who is also Colin’s grand­son rep­re­sent­ing the third gen­er­a­tion of the fam­ily in the com­pany.

“At the time, there weren’t very many Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ers pro­duc­ing low load­ers, so he started pro­duc­ing dif­fer­ent models to ad­dress a gap in the mar­ket and that’s where it all started.”

For Colin, it wasn’t just about mak­ing the same old trail­ers al­ready avail­able down un­der; he wanted to in­no­vate and build the best.

“Some man­u­fac­tur­ers were mak­ing lighter-duty low load­ers, but we took it to the next level,” Sam says.

This led Colin to de­vel­op­ing the Swing­wing widen­ing low loader, which was launched in 1969 and has con­tin­ued to evolve since its de­but 50 years ago.

“When the com­pany started pro­duc­ing the Swing­wing and full wi­dener trail­ers, it was clear that my grand­fa­ther had cre­ated some models that were rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the way equip­ment was moved in Aus­tralia,” Sam says.

“The Swing­wing was the big­gest game changer for the in­dus­try.

“There wasn’t any­thing like it avail­able at that time. No one was build­ing a trailer like it.”

Over the past 60 years the Drake Group has con­tin­ued to grow within the Aus­tralian trailer space, ac­quir­ing O’Phee Trail­ers in 2015 and con­stantly ex­pand­ing its range, some­thing Sam at­tributes to the qual­ity and in­no­va­tive de­sign of the prod­ucts.

“The key to our suc­cess has been through main­tain­ing qual­ity in our prod­ucts, but also in­no­vat­ing with de­sign,” he says.

“We’ve al­ways prided our­selves on qual­ity and in­no­va­tion and as a re­sult that’s what our rep­u­ta­tion has be­come out in in­dus­try.”

A strong cus­tomer fo­cus has al­ways given Drake an edge which is some­thing Sam says al­lows it to in­tro­duce the right prod­ucts that oper­a­tors need and want.

“Lis­ten­ing to our cus­tomers is a mas­sive part of what we do, and then trans­lat­ing that into cre­at­ing bet­ter models and trans­port so­lu­tions,” he says.

As a third-gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of the busi­ness, Sam proudly tells Owner//Driver the feel­ing of see­ing a trailer roll off the pro­duc­tion line never gets old.

“I’m third gen­er­a­tion fam­ily mem­ber here, as well as my sis­ter Maggie, and it’s a fan­tas­tic thing to be a part of,” he says.

“Ev­ery sin­gle drake trailer that rolls out the gate is a proud mo­ment for me be­cause ev­ery sin­gle one is out there on the roads putting drake on the map.”

Al­though trail­ers have come a long way since Colin Drake’s early work build­ing them, Sam be­lieves the vi­sion his grand­fa­ther had back in 1958 is still alive and well within the com­pany.

“There is a lot of the orig­i­nal DNA still there,” he says.

“The fun­da­men­tals of what my grand­fa­ther set out to achieve were re­ally about build­ing top­shelf equip­ment and pro­vid­ing the best trans­port so­lu­tions for our cus­tomers.

“Be­ing the best in the busi­ness is what we want to do and it’s in ev­ery de­tail; whether it’s the paint, the steel, the de­sign, ev­ery lit­tle de­tail is so im­por­tant and that’s what makes our prod­uct what it is to­day.”

To cel­e­brate the Drake 60th An­niver­sary the Group is host­ing an open day at the Wa­col fa­cil­ity on Satur­day, Septem­ber 15 from 9am-1pm, with fac­tory tours, truck and trailer dis­plays, com­pe­ti­tions and food and drinks!

– Cobey Bar­tels

ABOVE: Drake Trail­ers in ac­tion, haul­ing dump trucks from the Roy Hill mine site in Western Aus­tralia to Port Hed­land

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