ROD Caldow operates NorthStar Engineering at Nathalia, Victoria, manufacturing a range of trailers.
Kermie: Where the **** is Nathalia?
Rod: It's 190km along the Murray Valley Hwy, east of Albury. It's a nice little town.
K: Funny place to have a trailer factory.
Rod: I was born in the area. Got kicked out of the local school in year 10 and had to finish at Numurkah. It turned out to be a good move as I got an apprenticeship in engineering.
K: Another predicted failure who turned out to be successful. I like it. When did NorthStar kick off?
Rod: In '02. Moved into trailer manufacturing about six years ago. The mainstay of the business has been TAG trailers of one, two or three axles, but we've diversified a bit over more recent times. We do quite a few tippers in steel nowadays. It all sort of adds up and fills the day in.
K: How do you go for staff in Nathalia?
Rod: That's the biggest problem. There's not a big pool to draw from. I've got seven good blokes with me at the moment but I could do with a couple more. We've doubled the size of the workshop since we started.
K: Business is good?
Rod: Yep. I do the sales as well, but there's a lot of word of mouth. We get plenty of repeat business. This drill-rod trailer (pic above) is the 10th we've produced for the one buyer. I was originally supplying them as flat tops. One day I went up to see the workshop manager and there's blokes crawling all over my brand new trailer. They were taking to it with oxy welders and putting bloody walkways and different things on it. I said, "Why are you doing that?"
So now we put the walkways on, and a solid head so the threads on the drill pipes don't get damaged.
We put the rod chute on and the double-acting work platform at the back, which becomes the gate.
K: And you make more money.
Rod: You got it! Name of the game, Kermie.
K: Tell me about the Kenny.
Rod: It's an '82 W model. I always wanted one. I bought an S2 about five years ago. I couldn't justify spending the money on a W at the time. Then this came up about a year ago
Rod: $40k is enough for me. When I got it I put a tipper on the S2 and my wife, Kath, said one had to go, so she did, the S2, I mean.
K: Good move. You need her to do the paperwork.
Rod: Anyway I've got my baby now, something with a bit of class. She's got a 3406 motor that's only done 50,000km and pushes out 500hp.
The gearbox and diff have been re-raced and the airbag suspension's been done in the past year. Down the line she'll get a new coat of paint and I'll do the cab up. She's got a quick-release tray so I can move the trailers around.
You're at 62-64 Blake St, Nathalia, Victoria.
Phone: 03 5866-3077. Web: northstarindustries .com.au
Rod: Thanks for the plug.
K: No worries. Can I have a drive?