The brand that many built

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The unassuming man behind Jackson Enterprises is keen to give credit where he feels it is due, saying his success is a result of team effort.

“A business of this size could never run without a good team of people around me,” says Trevor Jackson. “Right from the quality assurance, the management structure and plans, the guys in the drawing office and the store, to the guys on the floor, they are all part of the big picture.”

Trevor Jackson has built a fantastic business with great values. He’s passionate about acknowledging the dedication and commitment of great staff in the success. He’s devoting more and more time to inspiring the next generation about taking up opportunities when they present themselves.

A diesel mechanic by trade, a series of events led to Trevor establishing Jackson Enterprises in the early 1990s. 

“I did my time with Ryan’s Garage here in Pahiatua, and after that I worked for Eric Gleeson & Sons. I was a driver and mechanic, and spent my time fixing things. I’ve always enjoyed building things. Back in those days I was servicing their trucks, tied up with my trade.”

Trevor moved on to Feast Contractors, making good money as a mechanic working on motor scrapers at the open cast mines at Rotowaro, near Huntly. When he moved back to Pahiatua he worked on the development of the LPG-powered trucks for Tui/Kiwi Dairy Company, before starting up his own truck servicing business.

“The waiting lists for new truck bodies was getting longer and longer with the already established body builders, so we ended up being approached to see if we were interested in building a new stock deck.

“My first attempt was a stock deck, and then an older trailer rebuild. The first stock deck was for David Pope and the first highly modified trailer was for Stringfellow Contracting. Our first complete unit was for JP Trucking – a complete truck and trailer unit.”

Trevor says right from the early days it was vital they looked after the rural side of trucking, and he would like to say a big thank you to all the companies and loyal customers he has dealt with over the years.

“Our whole industry revolves around the rural sector. There’s a number of people, like Stringfellow Contracting and David Pope Transport, who gave me the opportunity to manufacture something and put it out there on the road.”

Trevor says they made a few stock decks and tipping units, which gave the company a huge opportunity to expand. He uplifted the old Ministry of Works workshop from the Turangi Tunnel Project and moved it to the site the business still occupies today in Queen Street, Pahiatua.

“I took six or seven guys up there to dismantle the workshop and transport it back to Pahiatua. What we kept was a quarter of it; I sold the rest to pay for the land. The original building covered an acre and a half.”

The product leaving the Jackson premises is renowned for its quality and finish.

Over the years the business has expanded from a single workshop to three massive workshops as well as aluminium, steel and finishing shops. Initially there was just Trevor, Bruce Falconer (whose son Dylan now works for the business) and apprentice Bevan Wolland, but the company now runs a staff of 48. Trevor says the trailer industry is doing very well at present but needs more tradespeople to keep up with demand. 

PHOTO: ED MANSELL. The Jackson brand was well represented in the Total Transport fleet. The late Matt Purvis was a huge fan of Jackson’s gear. Owner-driver at the time Mark Fletcher ran this immaculate Freightliner Argosy with a body and trailer specifically set up for timber cartage.

Another trailer comes to life at the Pahiatua plant.

“We were experiencing great growth in 2015, and 2016 was one out of the bag, but 2017 is following it very closely and may be even better. I’ve got two guys in the drawing office, and we’re always looking at new ways of doing things. The industry has been so busy with the nuts and bolts and now we need the tradespeople – we could do with hundreds of them. The company has now taken on a couple of immigrants and if they come up to the company’s requirements, we’d have no hesitation employing more.”

  

Innovation is a core tenet of the Jackson philosophy. The company manufactures in both steel and aluminiumn to ensure customers receive optimal outcomes.

Jackson Enterprises builds a range of trailers, including livestock, curtainsider, B-trains, quads, tipping, and specialist orders such as transporters, hiab trucks and fifth-wheels. Trevor says today businesses are looking for versatility so they can get the most out of their investment.

“Take split tippers for instance. Years ago we only built one or two a year, but now we can’t stop building them. It seems to be a phase at the moment, going away from specialist bath-tubs to a multipurpose unit. This allows them to carry loads each way that are really different, like fertiliser and then timber. There is a trend towards more multipurpose than single purpose.”

Trevor says they are currently building trucks with removable sides so the bins can be taken off and a stock crate or a milk tanker put in its place. 

“You bring the truck in and take the crate off and cart milk, then put a tipper on and cart bulk products.”

As of May 2017 Jackson Enterprises had built a total of 772 trailers, now averaging about one a week. While there is a fairly heavy emphasis on aluminium chassis and trailers, Trevor says they will build whatever their customer wants.

“Back about eight or nine years ago the government couldn’t decide what they were going to do to about the Land Transport Act and that brought a lot of hardship to people. People held off building new trailers, as no one knew what the changes would mean. We were drastically down in staff numbers. But when that was all clarified there was room for movement, room for building things outside the square, and nowadays the customer can get what they want, within reason.”

A 250 tonne transporter for the Stockton Mine that took nine months to build is one of the standout memories for Trevor.

Trevor says he thinks it’s worth mentioning that there are some boundaries, such as length and width, and the VDAM rule has only advantaged a few operators.

“It has given the odd operator an advantage in a few areas; you could say it’s provided some level of tolerance to a selected few.”

Among the hundreds of trailers they have built, there are a few that have stood out for Trevor.

“There was a 250 tonne transporter for the Stockton Mine – that was a nine-month build. And we built a special quad with roll-up curtains for the export of GIB board.” 

Trevor says Jackson Enterprises has an excellent reputation, one that has been built up by the people he has around him who enjoy doing a top class job. 

“You’ve got to point the finger at those who work for me. The business has always been creative from our start up and our point of difference is having long-term staff who imagine seeing great products going on trucks. We have got a great reputation for our finish – a lot of it hinges back to servicing, to seeing things right. Our warranty is driven by putting things right.”

Although retirement is not on the immediate horizon, Trevor is looking to the future. 

“The key is the people you have around you. To be fair I’ve got a great team around me. I have a husband and wife team [operations manager Paul and PA/right-hand woman Jo Hirst] who have been working for me for years, and along with them, other people have to be given the opportunity. It’s time to let somebody else manage the opportunity I was given. You can’t do it alone. We’re all getting older and we need someone younger around us to make decisions.”

Trevor is already working on inspiring the next generation of innovators, heading to a local college to give a talk on how he started his business.

“I’m going to talk about how fixing trucks gave me the opportunity to spread my wings and earn the trust that saw people want me to make things for them.”

Immaculately presented Jackson gear has graced the roads for a number of years. Paul Rudd put this K104B on the road in 2007 in Monier livery, driven by Bradley Gallagher.