This past May, The Drake Group made the revolutionary announcement that the son and daughter of John Drake would become the family business’ new Directors. Then, in August, Reid Ossington was appointed as CEO of the Group.
Reid’s background includes executive positions in the transport and machinery sectors with proven capabilities across strategic planning, business improvement and optimisation. It’s these moves, Reid says, which will allow the company to continue to thrive in the decades to follow.
“Part of my appointment, and also with Sam and Maggie coming on as Directors, is to set the organisation up to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming,” he says. “So, for example, ensuring our people have the right systems to do their job effectively, introducing lean processes, removing waste, and essentially getting the business to a point where we’re supporting our customers with the solutions they need at a quicker rate – building trailers faster.”
With the leadership team now set in place, Reid says the Drake quality and heritage, which goes back to 1958, remains. Now, The Drake Group will cement its legacy.
“They were looking for something different, and I think with my background I’m bringing that,” he says. “It’s not just about the manufacturing, but it’s also about people and culture. I think that’s what I’m bringing to the organisation.
“With Maggie and Sam, I’ve found them to be natural leaders. I think they’re both very aware that there’s a high percentage of third generation family businesses that don’t survive, and they really want to see the success of their grandfather, Colin Drake, and father, John, carry on for years to come. So, with that, they bring natural curiosity – they’re both very smart individuals but they’re both very humble as well.”
Together with Maggie and Sam, Reid says a very collaborative executive leadership team is being established.
“We’re trying to break down barriers and really work as one Drake Group – and that can only bring benefits to our customers,” he says. “It means we’re more engaged across the business, we’re supporting each other internally as customers which obviously has the effect of giving a better external customer experience.”
Reid joins The Drake Group during a period of complete innovation and success. Outside of its regular trailer deliveries to some of Australia’s biggest fleets this year, its impressive performance at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show and even the trial of ‘London’, the new O’Phee Double Stack Container Super B-Double Skel trailer combination, is evidence of this.
“It’s been a very successful year for The Drake Group, and the trajectory is certainly more success, which is pleasing,” Reid says. “The theme for us moving forward is around opportunity. It’s obviously providing haulage solutions to our customers, but then looking at opportunities beyond that – what’s coming down the pipeline in regard to technology that can affect or add value to a trailer that is being pulled by a prime mover, what different solutions we can use to reduce weight, and what we can do with Industry 4.0 from our manufacturing processes to be more effective. There’s lots of opportunity.”
For 65 years now, Drake has been solving transport solutions for its customers. To Reid, this in itself says what the company has done to date has been successful.
“Charting the path forward is not about forgetting that,” he says. “It’s actually about remembering that as part of who we are – it’s part of our DNA. It’s how we can build upon that heritage. For example, the role of my leadership group is to make sure we set the conditions for our people to succeed which then has a downward effect of success for our customers.”
Reid says the focus going forward will be growth for all business units, including Drake and O’Phee trailers, its Parts and Service Division, its engineering arm (Dalzell & Bagley) and its diecast collectibles business.
“The Drake Group is a group, and all the different business units are there to support the customer’s lifestyle from end to end,” he says. “And of course, we want to have a bit of fun along the way.”