60 years of top-shelf Aussie trailers

By: Cobey Bartels


Iconic Australian trailer manufacturer, Drake Group, hits the big 6-0 this year and Owner//Driver sat down with third generation worker in the family business Sam Drake to find out how it all began and where it’s headed. Cobey Bartels writes

 

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Back in 1958, when a couple hundred 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.


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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 them 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 top shelf 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 15 September from 9am-1pm, with factory tours, truck and trailer displays, competitions and food and drinks!

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