The Drake Group : The Road to Revolutionary Innovation

Thomas ArnoldLily Sawyer
Thomas Arnold - Senior Head of Projects Lily Sawyer - Editor
At A Glance
  • As an Australian-owned, family-run trailer company offering a diverse range of high-quality products and services, The Drake Group caters to a range of industries, including general transport, logistics, and heavy haulage.
  • Having steadily expanded its portfolio over the past 50 years, The Drake Group has unified several well-known vehicle manufacturing and transportation brands under one banner.
  • Drake’s dedication to quality is also reflected in its robust Service, Repairs, and Spare Parts Divisions, all of which guarantee enhanced service and reliability throughout the lifespan of each trailer.
  • “We have customers with trailers that they bought decades ago, which are as reliable today as when they left the factory,” says Reid Ossington, CEO, The Drake Group.

Australian trailer company The Drake Group has emerged as a significant force within the country’s transport, logistics, and heavy haulage industry, providing high-quality and wide-ranging products and services. Reid Ossington, CEO, shares more about the company’s steady growth and its aspirations for the future.

THE ROAD TO REVOLUTIONARY INNOVATION

As an Australian-owned, family-run trailer company offering a diverse range of high-quality products and services, The Drake Group (Drake) caters to a range of industries, including general transport, logistics, and heavy haulage.  

Having steadily expanded its portfolio over the past 50 years, including a significant rebranding from Drake Trailers to The Drake Group, the company has unified several well-known vehicle manufacturing and transportation brands under one banner. 

“Our core brands include Drake Trailers, O’Phee Trailers, Drake Collectibles, and Dalzell & Bagley Engineering. Additionally, we are proud partners for BoxLoader and Swinglift,” introduces Reid Ossington, CEO. 

The company’s comprehensive service division comprises Drake Service and Repairs, Drake Parts and Parts Exchange, Drake Rental, and Drake Used Trailers. Each reflects the company’s commitment to offering end-to-end solutions and being a one-stop shop for all manner of customer requirements.  

“Our client base ranges from corporate entities to owner-operators, with notable clients such as Centurion Transport, Bower’s Heavy Haulage, Membrey’s Transport & Crane Hire, Land Transport, and Wemyss Transport,” Ossington divulges.  

With a strong, established presence across Australia, Drake manufactures in Brisbane and has established service and parts branches in Brisbane and Perth.  

Since its inception in 1958, Drake has continuously evolved by embracing technological advancements, expanding its product range, prioritising customer satisfaction, and delivering excellence.  

“This evolution has been guided by our dedicated leadership team, including Managing Director, John Drake; Directors, Sam Drake and Maggie Nilson, and myself as CEO,” Ossington comments.  

As Drake’s Managing Director, John seeks to provide freedom and guidance for the younger leadership to elevate the business to the next level.  

“As a company, we hope to grow organically whilst upholding the historical, foundational values of quality, adaptability, service, and excellence that were established by John’s father, Colin Drake, over 65 years ago,” he reflects. 

However, the company’s journey to excellence has by no means been without its challenges.  

“There is always market competition, regulatory requirements, and the need for continuous improvement in efficiency and sustainability.”  

In addition, inflationary pressures emphasise prioritising high-quality products that provide substantial value to customers. 

Despite considerable obstacles, Drake remains enthusiastic about the opportunities for growth and innovation across its business units.  

“A level of adversity drives us to stay at the forefront of innovation whilst delivering exceptional solutions to meet the evolving needs of our industry and customers,” Ossington enthuses.

STATE-OF-THE-ART TRAILER MANUFACTURERS

Boasting advanced trailer manufacturing processes that have been carefully honed over a number of years, with a strong focus on high-grade materials, Drake is able to offer clients unmatched quality. 

The majority of Drake’s steel is cut by a trusted partner and welded with state-of-the-art machinery, offering consistency in durability, strength, and quality, ensuring the company has a technically competitive edge.  

Drake’s dedication to quality is also reflected in its robust Service, Repairs, and Spare Parts Divisions, all of which guarantee enhanced service and reliability throughout the trailer ownership experience and lifespan of each trailer.  

As a business that has grown organically from a source of passion, hard work, and customisation, Drake will always place an emphasis on quality. As the company continues to evolve, however, Ossington and the team recognise the need to adapt.  

“We are bigger now, with more people, products, and complexities in our processes. Therefore, we need to change,” he confirms.  

Drake plans to initiate this change through its Lean Journey, which includes removing waste from trailer manufacturing processes to increase efficiency and become more sustainable, whilst ensuring quality is maintained.   

“We also place a much bigger emphasis on our company culture, internal customer service, safety practices, communication, and efficiencies, all of which contribute to a high-quality end product.”  

In addition, Drake is actively investing in its estate and infrastructure for improved flow, and most importantly, its people through leadership training, coaching, and creating aligned operational plans for the company’s future. 

PROJECT INNOVATIONS

Drake’s latest innovation is the world-first O’Phee ‘London’ Double Stack Container Super B Double SKEL Combination. The trailer not only perfectly embodies Drake’s core values of quality design and high-grade materials but has earned the company the prestigious 2023 Product Innovation Award at the HVIA National Awards.  

“This national recognition underscores the groundbreaking nature and impact of our innovation in the transport manufacturing industry,” Ossington prides.  

The novel double stack design operates exclusively at container ports and features a fully Australian-compliant load restraint system, which is capable of carrying up to 12 empty 20-foot (ft) containers at a time or four 40 ft containers.  

Offering a remarkable 200 percent increase in productivity and efficiency compared to existing Super B Double combinations, the technology significantly reduces the number of vehicle movements needed to transport containers. 

“This not only boosts productivity and efficiency but also enhances safety for drivers and road users while contributing to emissions reduction,” he elaborates.  

The success of the ‘London’ design is a testament to Drake’s collaborative approach and its commitment to listening to its customers.   

“By understanding their needs and challenges, we were able to develop a truly innovative solution,” Ossington continues.  

This collective effort highlights Drake’s dedication to delivering value-driven transport solutions that meet and exceed customer expectations. 

Built on the strong foundations of quality, reliability, service, and ethical practices, O’Phee Trailers’ values align closely with Drake’s ability to offer reliability, excellent customer service, and true Australian craftsmanship to the transport industry.

SUPPLYING EXCELLENCE TO CUSTOMERS

Drake’s client group hails from a broad range of market sectors. As such, the company  prides itself on its ability to listen to each customer and, in turn, fine-tune their trailers to suit individual requirements.  

From length, width, and tare weight, through to paint, lighting, and tyre brands, Drake’s customers can personalise every build in any way.  

The company’s unwavering commitment to building what the customer wants is continued in its ability to create an underlying toughness in its trailers that no other manufacturer can replicate.  

“We have customers with trailers that they bought decades ago, which are as reliable today as when they left the factory,” Ossington comments.  

With an ambition to be the preferred solutions provider in each of the markets it serves, Drake combines manufacturing techniques with a keen understanding of its customers’ needs, to ensure that it can deliver superior products and solutions. 

In addition, a dedication to customer care and end-to-end support epitomises the company’s ability to prioritise the customer in every way possible.  

“What truly differentiates us is our holistic approach to customer care, where we go beyond just selling trailers to providing transport solutions and ongoing support. We even offer diecast collectible models of our customers truck and trailer combinations, and these are purchased from all over the world,” Ossington states. 

“Whether a 1/50th scale model or a 10 row steerable, we are committed to quality and excellence in everything we do.” 

A comprehensive approach to customer satisfaction grounded in Drake’s core values establishes long-term partnerships with customers, whilst ensuring that each trailer consistently performs at its best. 

However, Drake would be unable to achieve such comprehensive customer satisfaction without a robust network of trustworthy partners and suppliers.   

“In terms of our suppliers, we need quality products delivered on time to keep our manufacturing flowing. We also need those products to perform as designed, and to endure in the tough environments where our trailers operate,” Ossington divulges.  

Thus, excellence is part of the Drake DNA and, as such, the company expects excellence from each and every one of its suppliers.  

“The suppliers we have remained with over the years, whether local or overseas, are the ones that truly understand our expectations on quality and excellence,” Ossington asserts.

“We have customers with trailers that they bought decades ago, which are as reliable today as when they left the factory”

Reid Ossington, CEO, The Drake Group

AN INSPIRED EMPLOYER

The staff at Drake are viewed as integral family members.  

“We have long-term employees who are the custodians of the Drake heritage, whilst bringing in fresh talent allows us to challenge the status quo,” Ossington imparts.   

As a proud Australian-made trailer manufacturer, the company has a vested interest in cultivating home-grown talent and a proud reputation for employee retention.  

In addition, Drake believes that recruiting widely and onboarding a new generation of staff can offer the company insights from other industries and markets, enabling continued improvement.  

Drake proudly offers its employees a varied, challenging, and rewarding working environment with plenty of room for growth and career advancement.  

Recently, the company has embarked on a journey to implement individual development programmes for its staff. It is hoped that, by creating a supportive work culture, the overall environment will foster teamwork and professional growth.  

“I’m a true believer in the team; that’s where we win, when individuals put their colleagues before themselves for the greater good of the team.” 

Furthermore, Ossington believes that every employee has a role to play in Drake’s success. 

“My team will tell you that I often talk about having “no tourists” in the business. Therefore, my expectation of my leaders is high; I expect excellence, professionalism, and employees who are always looking to work smarter so our customers can benefit,” he explains.   

In this way, Drake employees, especially those in leadership roles, are awarded with opportunities to experiment, take risks, be challenged, and grow personally.  

“I then expect my leaders to cascade that thinking to their own teams, ultimately unlocking the potential in all our staff.” 

Ultimately, Drake’s work across Australia helps to keep the country running and shape the landscapes of the transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and infrastructure industries –none of this would be possible without its strong and reputable staff base.

“We are exploring opportunities for growth both organically and inorganically for all of our business units”

Reid Ossington, CEO, The Drake Group

MAKING INROADS FOR THE FUTURE

Having experienced exponential growth and success since its inception, Drake has several priorities that it hopes will continue its expansion.  

Firstly, the company has recently undergone a significant restructuring of its staffing and operations, which will drive more efficiency in company processes and provide opportunities for talented individuals to shine.   

As an equal opportunity employer, Drake believes that diversity contributes to strengthening and differentiating its team. In this way, the company seeks to employ those with a great skillset, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to excellence, no matter their background.  

Beyond merely providing haulage solutions to its customers, Drake is also exploring opportunities in advanced technologies that could enhance or add value to the trailers pulled by prime movers.  

“We are investing in technologies that will allow us to become even more efficient, whilst getting us closer to our customers and providing improved, optimised services,” Ossington reveals.  

“We are looking at different solutions to reduce weight and leverage Industry 4.0 in our manufacturing processes to improve efficiency.” 

These opportunities span across all Drake business units, and as such, efficiency and technological advancements emerge as top priorities going forward.  

“We are exploring opportunities for growth both organically and inorganically for all of our business units,” Ossington continues. 

“If those growth opportunities align with our core beliefs and strengths, then we are confident of being able to add more value for our customers,” he concludes.

THE DRAKE GROUP PARTNERS

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By Thomas Arnold Senior Head of Projects
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Thomas Arnold is Senior Head of projects for Outlook Publishing. Thomas is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Thomas is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Thomas to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.