Best Western: Trailcraft boost production and look east
  |  First Published: April 2005

Watch out folks, the Wild West is coming to town. Perth-based plate aluminium boat builder Trailcraft has set its sights on the eastern seaboard and is planning to aggressively market their 40-plus models over here.

I had the opportunity recently to spend a couple of days with a bunch of other fishing/boating writers as guests of Trailcraft to check out their factory and drive a few models in the wide range.

It was a picture perfect day as we were driven from the airport to the Trailcraft operation in the Business Marine Park at Henderson, the maritime hub of Western Australia. Covering more than 10,500 square metres, the Trailcraft factory has 200 employees who built a host of boats from almost half a million dollars’ worth of aluminium that hits the loading dock each month. Owner and managing director Brett Martin and national sales and marketing manager Max McGuire were our hosts for the two days and did a splendid job, showing us every facet of the operation.

Over the past five years Trailcraft has grown to be the biggest producer of plate-aluminium trailer boats in the world. The plant is currently turning out 22 boats a month but this will increase as a fully automated, moving production line comes into operation soon.

In addition, Trailcraft are one of the biggest manufacturers of boat trailers in Australia, producing around 1500 trailers a year to supply their own boats and those from other manufacturers, too.

Being so isolated, Perth has always had a problem with supply from the eastern states. Because of the frustrations of this, Brett Martin is a great believer in trying to do as much as possible in-house.

To this end he has his own trim shop where boat seats are made, bends his own windscreen extrusions and even moulds windscreen shapes for the many different models. He said he would dig up the aluminium and smelt it himself if it were possible!

To counteract an ongoing transport problem in getting his product east, Brett now owns four 20-metre-long trucks so he can meet dealer deadlines and ensure his product gets to the customer in the pristine condition it left the factory.

In an exciting new venture, Trailcraft is also entering the highly competitive caravan market. After 12 months of extensive R and D, a new 5500 square metre moving conveyor van facility is only a month or so away from completion. These Trailcraft vans are a step up from the run-of-the-mill caravans with a whole new aluminium sandwich construction that’s light as a feather yet strong as sheet steel. When production gets rolling along at the planned rate, around 20 vans per week are expected to roll off the line.

A little over six years ago Brett and his wife took over Salt Water Marine in Perth. The small boat dealership flourished and one of the brands Brett sold was Trailcraft, then manufactured in a small backyard operation producing around 10 boats a year.

Brett was impressed with the boats and being keen angler, included a few extra design features and then looked how he could step up production. Now with 32 dealers around Australia and three company-owned retail stores in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne (these sell the caravans, too) the rest is history. Brett still owns Salt Water Marine.

There are a number of factors which make Trailcraft boats that raise the testosterone level in fishermen. Besides looking like fishing boats should, it’s the safety of the self-draining deck on all their models which attracts a lot of interest.

Then there is the construction. Boats are fully seam-welded throughout, not just stitched. Along with the fully sealed self-draining aluminium floor, this gives the boat enormous strength.

Beamy, soft-riding hulls, walk through transoms with ladders, 3mm to 5mm plate aluminium, a three-year warranty, a huge range to suit everyone’s dreams and competitive prices have made Trailcraft much-wanted craft by fishos and those who want to spend time on the water in comfort and safety.

We spent a whole day putting boats from 4.0 metres to 6.4 metres through their paces. In the afternoon the predictable Fremantle Doctor blew in, throwing up a sharp chop so we could experience how the hulls reacted in the conditions.

The Sydney contingent flew out of Perth on the ‘red eye’ flight, hitting the tarmac at Mascot just after 6am. At midday, I slumped at the keyboard so took myself off to bed for a little shuteye before returning to the computer to write up the trip whilst it was still fresh in my mind.

I was impressed with the enthusiasm, openness and full transparency Brett and Max portrayed on our trip. There’s no doubt they have a great competitive product and in the next few issues of Fishing Monthly I will have a few tests on models that took my interest. Stay tuned.

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