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Auto body specialist shifts to sanitiser stands
Flexible manufacturing, business ties in focus as Trojan Trays partners with Flick
5 May 2020
By TERRY MARTIN
SPECIALIST ute and truck body manufacturer Trojan Trays Australia has joined the growing ranks of local automotive suppliers that are diversifying into health-related equipment in an effort to improve their business outlook and provide a greater public good during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Based in Orange, New South Wales, the fast-growing company has pivoted its business model from providing steel trays and fabrication services to dealer groups, fleet operators and other businesses and individual owners to producing hand sanitiser stands for use across Australia in partnership with national pest control and hygiene services firm Flick Anticimex.
Speaking to GoAuto, Trojan Trays Australia managing director Steven Turnbull said the company that he co-founded in 2017 had grown quickly and was scaling up to the point where for the past two years it had been supplying large businesses, government agencies and other organisations running multiple vehicle platforms across their light-vehicle fleets.
But Mr Turnbull said COVID-19 had inflicted significant damage on its operations, with Trojan’s typical monthly orders down by 75 per cent since mid-February.
Flick Anticimex contracted Trojan Trays several months ago for specialist fit-outs for a fleet of its HiLux utes used in pest control, and Mr Turnbull said the program led to discussions with Flick about how else Trojan could leverage its skills in steel fabrication and other areas while its mainstay automotive contracts were slowing down.
Flick had been looking to China to source specialist hand sanitiser stands for a local supply contract it had secured through its hygiene services division, but Mr Turnbull said “they have turned their attention to us, to support us through this process”.
In conjunction with Flick, which handles the national distribution, Trojan quickly designed three different types of stand and is now producing them for retail, corporate, hospitality and other sectors, from service stations to outside lift wells in multistorey buildings.
Auto dealership groups are also in the mix.
The first production run is for 1200 units, with a commitment for another 1000 in place and expectations that it will reach 4000 units based on current levels of enquiry.
They are priced at about $450 plus GST for a freestanding unit with a 5L automatic pump spray system and sanitiser included, although large order numbers attract a reduced rate.
There are no issues with sourcing steel, and the company has a local surface-coating supplier authorised to apply the medical-grade antimicrobial paint used on the stands.
Mr Turnbull noted that rather than being a government-funded operation, this is a business-to-business approach that was benefiting all local companies involved and should lead to a long-term niche area of Trojan’s operations.
“It’s pretty cool that businesses are working together to try and keep each other healthy,” he said.
“And it’s a business-to-business relationship that has actually got this happening.
“Flick have also said that we can market this as a joint venture, so we are actively doing that as well,” he said, pointing to contacts made with existing clients such as mining companies and dealer groups.
“We could do 10,000 of these!
“It’s well presented enough to sit in the Sheraton or the Westin in Sydney, or 7-Eleven around the corner. It’s very, very broad in its application.”
Mr Turnbull said the current high volume would naturally taper off as orders are fulfilled, but he believes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a fundamental shift in Australians’ attention to hygiene in public spaces that will see ongoing demand for the units.
“The way that we (as a society) are operating at the moment, just because you have a hand sanitiser today doesn’t mean you’re going to get rid of it in three weeks, six months or 12 months. I think this will be the way the world is.
“You go to China and other places and they (sanitiser units) have been there for 20 years and I think this is going to be the kickstart Australia needs for that.
“So the volume is definitely high and intense at the moment, and it will taper back, but I think it will always be a small and sustainable area of our business.”
Mr Turnbull also said the company was well placed to adapt to changing business circumstances, which has proven to be vital in the current crisis.
“We’re very fortunate because we’re young and nimble. We’ve changed direction two or three times in the past just to tailor our business to stay alive, to be honest, so making a change in our business is not new,” he said.
“But if you’re a big corporate structure with a very limited ability to move around, or be flexible, that’s a bit of a dangerous place to be in.”
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