General Motors’ announcement that it is axing the Holden brand and closing down operations in Australia by the end of 2021 prompted speculation that it marked the final nail in the coffin of manufacturing in South Australia, where Holden’s Elizabeth plant was the centre of the company’s production in this country. However, it is not all doom and gloom for manufacturing in SA.

Basic Trailers is a shining example of a young, vibrant and innovative SA manufacturer meeting growing demand for locally designed and built products. Its trailers – designed, manufactured and distributed in Adelaide – have proven exceptionally popular with people across the state, in part as a backlash by customers against cheaper but inferior imported trailers that recently flooded the market.

Since opening its doors in 2018, Basic Trailers has expanded rapidly, to the extent that it has now had to move into larger premises in Pooraka to fulfil demand for its innovative trailers, all of which are built from Australian steel. Furthermore, in addition to its existing workforce of six full-time employees, the company plans to hire at least four more workers at its new workshop facility.

Sam Francis, General Manager of Basic Trailers, describes the move to new premises as a: “significant expansion, and means we can continue to meet the demand of people across SA for our locally built trailers. We are now able to offer an even bigger selection of trailers and expand the range we have in stock at any one time, meaning there is little or no waiting time for our customers who want to buy a locally built trailer and tow it home the same day.”

Basic Trailers has invested heavily in CAD simulation software and CNC machinery, enabling it to explore the limits of trailer design. This also means that it can produce customised trailers designed to customers’ precise specifications. This ability is a feature that a local manufacturer like Basic Trailers can offer that importers can’t, and has contributed significantly to its success.

“Lots of people want to talk down manufacturing in SA and say there is no industry here,” adds Francis. “Yet the rapidly growing demand we have experienced goes against this. Our customers constantly tell us that they value the fact that our trailers are designed and built in Adelaide, and they would always prefer to buy a locally manufactured product over an imported one. Our having to move to accommodate demand tells me that there is definitely still a future for manufacturing in South Australia.”