Beautiful sunset behind a semi-truck heading down the interstate in Utah desert.

Prominent trailer manufacturer, Freighter Trailers this year will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first Freighter hitting Australian roads.

Freighter was officially created in 1945 with the first products rolling onto Australian roads in February 1946.

However, its origins reach back even further, starting with a man named John McGrath, who was born in Melbourne just as the 19th century turned into the 20th. Back then, an estimated 1.6 million horses, 6000 camels and 45,000 bullocks were providing the power behind freight, and a car trip between Sydney and Melbourne could take a week or more.

The origins of Freighter go back to before World War II, and the company didn’t limit itself to being the best in truck trailers. It also made boats, buoys, buses, forklifts, caravans, starting gates for racing tracks, wood heaters, and even had a crack at building its own 4WD. It’s said that during the 1970s, nine out of every ten heavy-duty trailers on Australian roads were Freighters.

New roads and new regulations after WWII were created to formalise the transport industry, developments that didn’t suit McGrath’s way of doing things or his stage of life, so he decided to sell out of his burgeoning, but somewhat ramshackle operation.

Noel Peel saw that with more structure around the already impressive operations, McGrath’s team of engineers, welders, fixers and makers could really shine.

They named the company Freighters Ltd and held its first AGM in late 1945 approving the purchase of McGrath Trailer Equipment.

Thirty seven years later in late December 1982 experienced industry professional Peter White purchased the business and in early January 1983 it was named Freighter Australia Manufacturing.

With Peter’s laser focus on costs and product innovation, as well as some inspired licensing arrangements (such as the relationship with Tautliners), by 1985 the new Freighter celebrated the manufacture of 600 trailers in two years..

More geographic and product diversification followed, and by the late 1990s Freighter’s performance drew the attention of a respected industry identity, Jim Curtis. Jim had created Maxi-CUBE, which had been ASX-listed in 1994, and was looking for a big step forward to achieve his growth aims.

Freighter was a much bigger fish than Maxi-CUBE, but that didn’t stop him and in 1998, Freighter was acquired by Maxi-CUBE and later that year, MaxiTRANS was established.

Freighter’s standing was so well-established that its name was retained and Freighter products became a key component of the MaxiTRANS business. Its status continued throughout the 2000s, as MaxiTRANS underwent a period of significant acquisitions and growth.

Today as Freighter celebrates 75 years as Australia’s longest standing trailer brand, the brand continues to deliver on its promise of high quality, high performance trailing equipment with an unmatched network of national back up support.

“Freighter’s long and successful history is owed to our loyal customers, said Dean Jenkins, MaxiTRANS managing director and CEO.

“Many of our customers are two or three generation Freighter loyalists and it is this on-going support that has helped build the legacy that Freighter prides itself on and will continue to be a part of every locally manufactured high quality trailer that is produced,” he added.

“We sit here today reflecting on the great achievements of Freighter, from introducing the first curtain sided trailer into the Australian market, known in the Freighter family as the Tautliner, through to continuing to push the boundaries on Performance-based standards (PBS).”

“A common theme across the years has been finding innovative ways for our customers to get more out of their equipment, allowing them to increase productivity with outstanding reliability, so they can focus on continuing to deliver the needs of the nation.”

“75 years in operation is a significant milestone, not only for the Freighter brand, but for the wider transport industry too,” said Dean.

“Supporting Australian business and locally manufactured products is what has made it possible for the brand to continue to thrive.”

“In celebration of this milestone and for our customers wishing to be a part of this historic year, we have released a limited edition Freighter 75th year Diamond Pack, available across the Freighter range throughout 2021. We encourage those interested to reach out to their local MaxiTRANS Dealer.”

“We again take this opportunity to thank all our customers, suppliers and staff for their on-going support throughout our extensive history, but also as important, during the most recent challenging times. We look forward with great excitement to the future of the Freighter brand and the transport industry as whole, said Dean.”