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Specialised by name

From its headquarters in New Zealand, Specialised Roading Equipment has established a meaningful presence in Australia’s road construction market.

Specialised Roading Equipment is one of New Zealand’s highest regarded manufacturers of bespoke road construction machinery and equipment. Now the company is looking to make a splash in the Australian market. Managing Director Mark Wansbrough outlines the company’s plans.

Specialised Roading Equipment (SRE) has made a name for its design, manufacturing and distribution of road construction equipment, particularly telescopic bitumen sprayers.

SRE Managing Director Mark Wansbrough says the company has rich roots in product development, in part thanks to the company’s early days more than 20 years ago.

“SRE was founded about 23 years ago by a guy who had his own road construction and sealing business. At the time he became frustrated that the only bitumen sprayers that were available on the market were pretty basic, fixed wing sprayers,” Wansbrough says.

“He couldn’t see a suitable machine available anywhere else in the world. It really depended on what he could create. So, he formed the company and from scratch he designed New Zealand’s first telescopic sprayer.”

Demand for such a machine grew amongst customers, rivals and industry players who noticed the machine’s effectiveness.

“People started coming and knocking on his door saying ‘hey we’d like one of those, too’. It started from that initial innovation and a desire to improve his operations in the industry,” Wansbrough says.

Following the success of the first machine, the roading business was eventually sold, with an emphasis placed on the sprayer manufacturing business. Specialised Roading Equipment is the spiritual successor of this first innovation.

SRE now provides tack coat sprayers, emulsion pumps and trailers, telescopic bitumen sprayers, emulsion sprayers spray bars and more to both New Zealand and Australia.

 A number of companies are already using Specialised Roading Equipment for projects across Australia.
A number of companies are already using Specialised Roading Equipment for projects across Australia.

From small beginnings  

Wansbrough identified SRE’s potential in 2019 and set about increasing its capabilities and services, while also making changes to the internal structure of the company.

For the past four years, Wansbrough says SRE has more than tripled its output when it comes to building sprayers for the New Zealand and Australian markets. 

He says that evaluating the company internally identified opportunities for improvement.

“We changed our outlook as a business and we reiterated our focus on looking after machinery from the time they’re made, until the time they die,” Wansbrough says.

“Another big change was filling some niches with new products. Before 2019, we effectively had one product in our portfolio. But now we’ve got a number of different options, depending on what the customer wants.”

A big part of this continued growth is embracing new markets and opportunities, such as Australia’s road construction and maintenance industries.


 

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SRE abroad 

SRE has always eyed the Australian market as a baseplate for further growth. 

The company has now supplied machinery and equipment to Australia for more than 15 years.

Wansbrough says the Australian and New Zealand road construction industries share similar desires and concerns, making the transition towards Australia’s domestic market much easier.

“In New Zealand, and the same things happening in Australia, customers are becoming more aware of how they’re using their machinery and what they’re using it for,” he says.

“Having a fancy sprayer that’s close to a million dollars can be overkill for just running in front of a paver, when you only need a small tack coater. Some of our customers were using one tool to do everything, but we’ve helped them to find the appropriate tool for each role.”

Wansbrough says one of SRE’s strengths is its control over the manufacturing process, allowing customers to have streamlined contact for after sales support.

“We control the entire build process from the start. We don’t use someone else’s heating control system or someone else’s designs. We control and support all of the parts and systems,” he says.

This applies to the machinery, as well as in-built technology like the computer control system and bitumen job tracking.

These systems can provide operators and project managers with real-time job management and productivity data. This is also supported by SRE’s support services, including maintenance and repairs throughout the entirety of a sprayer’s serviceable life. 

Specialised Roading Equipment Managing Director Mark Wansbrough.
Specialised Roading Equipment Managing Director Mark Wansbrough.

Wansbrough says SRE is able to provide after-sales support quicker than some Australian providers in the case of a breakdown or component fault.

“We can support [customers] from a technical perspective remotely. We can hop online, hook into the sprayer and look at the data and see exactly what’s happening with the machine at any time,” he says.

“We’ve also got the ability to get people on the ground. We’re involved all the way through the process.”

Wansbrough adds that SRE engineers and technicians are available around the clock, with established resources as well as relationships in Australia to help customers. 

“One of our customers had a slight issue with the bitumen pump on a Thursday, so we were on a plane that night to be on-site first thing Friday morning. We worked through the weekend and on the following Monday they were ready to spray again,” he says.

“I’d question if they’d be able to get support that quick from anyone in Australia, and we did it from Hamilton, New Zealand.”

SRE also has services when it comes to spare parts for its bitumen and emulsion machinery.

Exciting opportunities 

SRE machinery has already been used on Australian projects, with its equipment being used as part of works on the NorthLink Program for Main Roads Western Australia.

The company is looking to expand its portfolio, assessing new machinery developments and new business opportunities throughout Australia. This includes developing new technology for its equipment, as well as equipment that can support the spraying of sustainable materials.

“We could be like other companies that make any equipment in the roading industry. But instead, we’ve chosen to be experts in the niche bitumen equipment market, while having a full product offering for specific jobs,” Wansbrough says.

“We’re living up to our name.” 

This article was originally published in the July edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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