BTS21: Celebrating iconic Australian trailer brands

A pandemic, lockdowns, economic strife, a golden harvest season and a rise in business confidence – the past 12 months have been quite a ride. Through it all, MaxiTRANS customers have been at the coalface, continuing to deliver the needs of the nation


Australia’s road transport industry has helped get the country through the worst global pandemic in living memory and kept our cities, as well as regional communities, supplied with essential goods.

It’s something we can all be proud of. Whether it be carting food to supermarkets in the big cities, sending fruit to markets, moving general freight between regional centres or hauling last year’s bumper grain crop to ports for export, MaxiTRANS’ customers have been at the heart of it and that is something worth celebrating.

This year marks 75 years for Australia’s longest-standing trailer brand, Freighter.


In true MaxiTRANS style, there’ll be nothing self-congratulatory in the celebrations, with the focus kept firmly on the many loyal Freighter customers and the partnerships forged over the years.

The story of Freighter will be vividly told at the Brisbane Truck Show through a showcase of customer videos, imagery and a visual timeline of the Freighter journey. This will be combined with vintage footage of Freighter trailers, highlighting many key moments in its 75-year history.

"To know where you’re going you need to know where you’ve come from," MaxiTRANS Managing Director and CEO Dean Jenkins says.

"We’re proud to be a major part of the history of Australian road transport through this iconic trailer brand, and I’m sure our customers will enjoy looking back at the journey. It really highlights how far we’ve come together."

The Freighter story started back in 1945, when an entrepreneur named Noel Peel saw the potential growth in an already successful trailer manufacturing business started by Melbournian John McGrath.

Peel set up its company Freighters Ltd before its first order of business: buying McGrath trailers. History was made when the first Freighter trailer rolled off the production line in Melbourne in February 1946.

Production quickly skyrocketed and, by the 1970s, it’s said that nine out of 10 trailers on Australian roads were Freighters. 

Jenkins says Freighter owes its longevity to its customers, many of whom are second and third generation Freighter loyalists.

"That loyalty is never taken for granted, though. It’s earnt through continual improvement and innovation. We’re always striving to meet our customers’ needs, and that’s why so many customers trust Freighter to do the job," he explains.


The centrepiece of the stand at the Brisbane Truck Show will be a circa-1950s restored Freighter ‘strap’ trailer. This historic workhorse normally sits on display at MaxiTrans’ Ballarat manufacturing facility and will be making the trip north to Brisbane, where it will provide an eye-catching counterpoint to a modern-day Freighter drop deck semi-trailer.

Freighter is just one of many leading trailer brands that fall under the MaxiTRANS family banner. Maxi-CUBE, Hamelex White, Lusty EMS, Trout River, AZMEB and Peki make up the formidable MaxiTRANS stable and will be proudly represented at the Brisbane Truck Show through a display of trailers that celebrates some of the great partnerships that the company has with its customers.

Also on display is MaxiTRANS’ national retail parts brand, MaxiPARTS, showcasing the wide range of truck and trailer parts available, which further demonstrates the aftermarket support offered to customers via the MaxiTRANS national network.

Hamelex White, pictured below, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.


A key innovator in research and design, it was the first trailer manufacturer to engineer blueprint designs to operate under the performance-based standards (PBS) scheme.

To help customers understand how PBS could work for their business, the MaxiTRANS stand will again be staffed by its in-house PBS specialists.

"We’re inviting all visitors to come to the MaxiTRANS stand to talk with one of our in-house PBS specialists," Jenkins says.

"MaxiTRANS has produced more PBS-approved units than any other trailer manufacturer. This is an achievement that we are all very proud of, and thank all our customers, suppliers and staff for their ongoing support."

The future is looking especially bright, with MaxiTRANS’ new manufacturing facility at Carole Park in Queensland now up and running, replacing the existing facility in Richlands. The new 14,303-square-metre facility demonstrates MaxiTRANS’ ongoing commitment to its customers and local manufacturing, increasing its Australian manufacturing capability and assisting in creating 70 new jobs over the next five years.

Click here for all your 2021 Brisbane Truck Show news and updates!

The new facility is part of the Unite and Recover initiative set up by the Queensland government, designed to support Queensland jobs and industry through the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It’s great news for the economy, great news for employment and training in this important industrial hub, and, most importantly, it will allow us to continue to better serve our customers and diversify our manufacturing capabilities," Jenkins says.  

He adds the transport industry remains a key component of the economic recovery and has never been more important to the country.

"People are recognising how essential transport is in getting goods to where they need to be. MaxiTRANS is proud to play our part to allow our customers to continue to deliver the needs of the nation," Jenkins says.

"We love partnering with our customers to help them achieve their goals and we look forward to seeing all our customers at the Brisbane Truck Show."

Visit Stand 53 Foyer at the BTS for more.

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