Sawtell?s big secret
By BELINDA SCOTT
LACKING massive container terminals and super-sized warehouses has proved no bar to one small Coffs Coast company with big ideas and even bigger products.
Sawtell-based company Isoloader Australia is one of 10 companies which took part in a NSW Government trade mission to explore new markets in the Middle East this month.
Isoloader Australia Pty Ltd designs and manufactures container handling and industrial load handling machines, some of them capable of straddling, lifting and moving three-storey stacks of shipping containers.
Sawtell is far removed from the major intermodal terminals where the company's products are used and there isn't a container ship in sight on the Coffs Coast.
The company's main products are straddle carriers and rubber-tyred gantries up to 15 metres tall which lift and move containers and heavy equipment.
But Isoloader's business development manager, Eric Ronco, who has just returned from the Middle East trade visit, said the Sawtell location made perfect sense.
"If we had to be close to our clients, we would be everywhere in the world," Mr Ronco said.
"The cost of land and labour and other costs, is less here. Isoloader, established 25 years ago, moved to Sawtell in 1996."
Mr Ronco said the main difference between Isoloader and its competitors was its willingness to design special machines for customers' needs, even if they wanted only a single machine.
"We have very few competitors ? maybe three worldwide, but they are billion dollar companies and don't bother with the smaller customers' applications," he said.
At its factory in Buckman Close in the Toormina industrial area, Isoloader designs and builds the sensitive parts of the machines such as spreaders, power packs and cabins and outsources the nonproprietary assemblies from component manufacturers.
Mr Ronco said the use of pre-casting building components and the importance of their transhipping ports made the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain interesting areas for Isoloader.
Isoloader is headed by chief executive officer and professional engineer Phillip Arnold.
The company has now established a worldwide market for its equipment, used at dry ports, train terminals, transport terminals and ware- houses.