Melbourne-based boat builder Bar Crusher has made an incredible impact on the Australian aluminium boat scene since Peter and Warren Cleland produced their first boat over ten years ago.
From humble beginnings, this proudly Victorian company is now widely acknowledged as the leader in plate aluminium boat construction in Australia.
Bar Crusher was born out of a desire to build a better aluminium boat for Australian conditions. Peter and Warren are long-term alloy boat users, and became increasingly dissatisfied with the standard of boats on the market at the time. As Peter said, “we just couldn’t find a good alloy boat that had a good ride and good build quality”.
And as the old saying goes, if you want a job done properly, then sometimes you have to do it yourself!
After building a few boats Peter decided that Bar Crusher was the way of the future, and together with brother Warren and another partner, the three of them starting building boats on a full time basis.
In fact, so full time was this that Peter was working the design, sales, marketing, management and other ‘front of office’ duties as well as welding up boats.
The initial factory in Burwood was capable of producing up to 100 boats a year, but such was the growing popularity of the Bar Crusher brand that a move was on the cards, leading to a purpose built factory in Dandenong in 2003. This space was doubled in 2005 and then in line with increasing growth Bar Crusher moved into its current one-hectare premises in 2009.
This site now features a showroom as well, so everything from initial concept to sales is all handled in one location in Dandenong South.
What started as a desire to build a better boat has grown into an Australia-wide business that employs over 50 people.
Bar Crusher’s strong nation-wide dealer network in extremely important, with a dealer in every state as well as two in Queensland.
This is important on a sales level, but it is also critical from a service and communication point of view. At every stage of the process, customers can check with their dealer as to the progress of their boat and know exactly what is going on.
This ensures that Bar Crusher is totally focussed on customer expectations, ensuring a positive experience all round.
Right from the inception of Bar Crusher, Peter sought out the best designs to start with, and then developed these designs to suit the applications that each model excels in. Bar Crusher boats are entirely Australian designed and made and fully comply with all Australian regulations.
With such an extensive model range, each length and model type needs to be individually tailored – it isn’t just a case of strapping a different cabin design to the same old hull.
Each hull design is constructed to suit each model, whether an open deck centre or rear console up to the massive 760HT hard top.
Even though each model may be slightly different, the underlying design principle of Bar Crusher is to provide hardcore fishing boats for hardcore anglers. As such the emphasis is on ride quality and hull durability.
As Peter says, “we can engineer the hull to make less spray, but we would be sacrificing the ride to do so. Most hardcore offshore anglers can put up with some spray, but having a hard ride will ruin your day, so we concentrate on providing the best ride.”
Peter and Warren both work on design, and use their extensive participation in Australia-wide boat shows to keep a close ear to what customers are after. Plenty of important feedback is gained from this direct contact with the public, and gives Bar Crusher some agility in design that other mass-produced boats can’t match.
Stability is also a key issue for Bar Crusher, and the ballast system used in Bar Crusher boats effectively reduces the compromise between a good ride that a sharp V delivers and stability.
As the boat settles in the water, the ballast in the hull fills, altering the centre of gravity and vastly improving the stability at rest and at slow speed. Hit the throttle and once on the plane the ballast tank is empty, and therefore allows the deep V to do its job.
These boats are built for rough conditions experienced by anglers chasing big fish. In ten years of building and selling Bar Crusher boats, Peter has never had a warranty claim on a hull – these boats are constructed in such a way as to eliminate structural movement in the hull, which is the primary cause of hull splits.
Attention to detail is paramount in building these hulls, even down to the way the welding machines are set up to minimise weak points from too hot or cold weld starts.
And on the subject of welding, all the welders at Bar Crusher are trained on-site to deliver the high standards required – and given that Peter has welded up plenty of boats in his time he knows how it should be done.
A key part of the Bar Crusher approach is exemplified with the trailers. Each model is fitted precisely to the trailer, which are designed to make launching and retrieving easy, and to properly cradle the boat whilst in transit and storage.
Let’s face it, even with the most regular use; the boat will spend more time on the trailer than it will in the water, making it a fundamental element of the package.
The focus is very much on customers, as with any successful business. A key indicator of this is the freely given information such as the buyers guide on their website and in the catalogue. In these publications there is a clear explanation of terms and plenty of very good information to help the customer choose the right boat.
Peter is very keen on the ‘one-percent’ issues – it is the small design and quality details that set Bar Crusher apart from other brands. Elements such as the fully tinned wiring looms to prevent saltwater corrosion, rod holders in the right spot and at the right angle, a fuel filler in the right spot, plenty of headroom for tall anglers and so it goes. The attention to detail in every Bar Crusher is astonishing.
A key example of going the extra distance are the neat under-seat tackle boxes, complete with Plano tackle boxes.
As Peter says, “these are time consuming to make, but it adds a lot to the fishing efficiency of the boat, and this is what we are all about, making hardcore boats for hardcore anglers”.Reads: 2645