The well-known trailer manufacturer’s new CEO sat down with ATN to talk about her love of engineering and the future opportunities for greener, more sustainable trailer making in Australia.
When Graham Lusty Trailer’s (GLT) new CEO Shay Chalmers was growing up, her sister struggled with profound hearing loss. Luckily for her, a revolutionary new medical device had just been invented that could help restore her hearing.
The young Chalmers managed to meet the device inventor, Prof. Graeme Clark, and learning about its use and development left a lasting impression on her.
The device was the cochlear implant, and it has successfully resorted hearing to millions of people around the world. Moreover the experience cemented in Chalmers an interest in manufacturing and design to solve problems and help people.
Since then, Chalmers has had an extensive manufacturing career ranging from medical devices to steel manufacturing and has worked worldwide.
Chalmers has successfully run an engineering consulting firm, assisting companies in getting the most out of their facilities and processes.
“Manufacturing creates strong, secure employment. I’ve worked in towns in the U.S where manufacturing plants employed over two thirds of the whole population,” Chalmers says.
“During the GFC I saw small communities like that turn into ghost towns, as the manufacturing industries collapsed.”
“Focusing on innovation, efficiency and productivity in our manufacturing processes is key to long term business sustainability. I am passionate about helping manufacturers to become the best they can be.”
GLT says the name ‘Lusty’ is famous in Australia for being associated with trailer manufacturing. Graham Lusty was drawn to machinery when his father taught him to weld in the small town of Nyah West near the Murray River.
Graham built his first trailer 50 years ago, then went on to foundtrailer manufacturing companies including G&J Lusty, Lusty Allison and Lusty EMS until started his final legacy companyGraham Lusty Trailers . The core focus of GLT has always been to build the highest quality trailer possible, it is this drive that see’s the company enjoy an 80% repeat customer base.
This year in her new role as CEO at GLT, Chalmers says there are still a number of challenges that the Australian manufacturing industry faces. Challenges with supply chains, increased costs and access to skilled workers are all issues manufacturers are plagued with. The biggest challenge right now being access to skilled labour.
“Skilled welders are in such high demand across the globe, and this results in a high level of competition across our manufacturing industry in Australia for these skills. As manufacturers, we need to think about how we structure our organisation to attract and retain staff. Ultimately, we want to build a culture in our organisation where people love to come to work.
“If our people are happy and healthy both at home and at work then our business will be healthy too. Diversity in the labour force is another opportunity for the manufacturing industry to access a larger talent pool.
“Women, people of all ages and from all backgrounds— we want to be able to support everyone in our community, to have a safe, stable job in manufacturing” Chalmers says.
Chalmers also points out that despite the trends towards offshoring in some industries, manufacturing remains a large part of the local economy.
“Most items I purchase are manufactured in Australia. One in every ten people in Australia are employed in manufacturing,” Chalmers says.
One of the defining characteristics of the GLT brand is its dedication to quality. And Chalmers agrees that the entire Australian manufacturing industry should follow this model, focusing on similarly high value, customisable products with innovative design at their core not low valuable mass-produced items.
“How do you customise your product in a way that really serves your customers’ needs? That is a key element to success for us.” Chalmers says.
Chalmers wants to understand how Australians brands and products can best utilise their skills to create value for customers.
GLT serves several different markets within the transport industry. Chalmers says the level of quality, safety and durability that comes with the purchase of a GLT product is what is most attractive to customers, as well as the high level of after-sales support.
“We have a dedicated team of support staff and subject-matter experts who are available to assist our customers. We pride ourselves in solving our customers problems, to give them the best possible outcome for their business. “
GLT has benefited from strong demand for products and an enduring good reputation. Chalmers says the company is focusing on how to scale in the most efficient way to meet the increasing customer demand.
Now the company is also working on implementing lean manufacturing — a methodology that focuses on minimizing waste within manufacturing systems while simultaneously maximizing productivity.
Chalmers says other short-term strategies for the company is to actively target new markets and opportunities such as opportunities within the energy transition, defence, space and aviation.
“We are really aiming to capture demand for our products in a scalable way.”
“The energy transition effects every part of our supply chain. It’s an opportunity to ask how we can do things better,” Chalmers says.
GLT will also be looking at opportunities in how to optimise their own supply chains through innovations in raw material such as green steel and aluminium.
“We’re keeping an eye on global supply chains to make sure we stay ahead of the curve.”
“Moving towards carbon neutrality is of critical importance, and with our Australian innovative mindset I believe we can truly be a leader in this transition. All businesses have the opportunity to support sustainability in our supply chains.” Chalmers says.
GLT will be on show at this year’s Brisbane Truck Show (BTS) where it will be showing off all its high-quality products with a large show room area.
You can see GLT at the show this month at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st of May 2023, hall 2 stand 53.