Australia’s Number One Loader

Kanga Loaders

In 1980, Kanga Loaders manufactured the very first mini loader prototype. When it was released to the public the following year, the innovative design made history as the first stand-on compact skid steer loader ever produced.

Over the next thirty years, Kanga Loaders went on to achieve worldwide recognition for its remarkable industry firsts – and continues to roll out new, game changing products to this day.

Kanga Loaders’ original mini loader was modelled around a simple, yet ingenious idea. “The concept was based on a motorised wheelbarrow,” recalls Rod Lehpamer, Kanga Loaders’ National Sales, Service and Marketing Manager. The creative design greatly reduced the physical exertion required for digging and loading jobs. Not surprisingly, the market loved it. A new concept and a new company had been born.

Kanga Loaders has spent decades perfecting the design of its original prototype. “The product has evolved over the years,” Mr Lehpamer points out. The mini loader now utilises hydraulic power and has 60 available attachments, ensuring that it can take care of a wide variety of jobs. “It has become like a Swiss army knife,” Mr Lehpamer says of the design’s unique versatility. The company has evolved as well, and was purchased by Digga in 2009, to become a fully owned subsidiary of the Digga Group of companies. Under the new ownership, Kanga Loaders has remained 100 per cent Australian owned and manufactured, however.

Reliable, user friendly features have made Kanga Loaders the number one loader in Australia. In fact, this remarkable earthmoving tool is widely credited with changing the face of the Australian workplace across multiple industries. A slew of awards demonstrates this success. In 1989, the Kanga compact loader won the Australian Design Award for outstanding innovation in its class. In 2004, the loader earned the Queensland Small to Medium Export Award and was an Australian Export Award Finalist. In 2007, Kanga Loaders received a Highly Commended rank at the Manufacturer’s monthly Endeavour Awards in the category Innovative Product of the Year – Industrial, for a product that has changed the face of hazardous and high risk working environments.

Mr Lehpamer believes that the company’s laser focus has been a major reason for its success. “What makes us number one? A commitment to quality engineering, safety, and improving cost of ownership – to the market and the category,” he explains. “We haven’t invested our time and effort into other products. We have specifically focused on what we do well and what we know, which is mini diggers.” By narrowing its focus to one product category, the team is able to put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure that its products are number one in the field. “We are obviously at the forefront of the industry with safety and innovation,” Mr Lehpamer points out.

Kanga Loaders is constantly working to maintain this leading edge. “The market is a continuously changing space,” Mr Lehpamer explains. “We are continually monitoring trends to keep ahead of the game.” A dedicated research and development department keeps the company moving forward. This department carries out a needs analysis to identify whether there is an opening for a new product or a need to tweak an existing Kanga product. “Identifying the need within the market will determine whether we have a viable product or platform to start developing,” Mr Lehpamer explains. “Within our R&D department, we continuously challenge ourselves to look for where we can add revenue streams.” The department keeps a particularly close eye out for niche segments in the market that have yet to be filled.

Kanga spent over three years researching and developing its ground breaking, remotely operated loader, the Kanga TR825. The new invention is already being used in mines around the world – and saving major companies like BHP millions of dollars, reports. The product’s major advantage is in removing the operator from hazardous areas or confined spaces. You can still perform the task at hand, avoiding unnecessary shutdowns of plant, or manual labour, which is costly and time-intensive. The loader also comes fully equipped to handle a wide variety of jobs, such as bucket work, trenching, augering, sweeping, demolition, and more.

Mr Lehpamer says that the Kanga TR825 is only the beginning. “I am very guarded with information about innovation and where we are going,” he explains. Kanga is determined to maintain its leading edge. With a long roster of innovative firsts already under its belt, Kanga’s upcoming remote technology – whatever it may be – is sure to blaze a new trail within the industry.

Kanga Loaders also sets itself apart by manufacturing in Australia. All of the company’s products are designed and fabricated at its own purpose-built 1300 square metre manufacturing facility in Yatala, QLD. Competing with overseas manufacturing isn’t easy, of course, and Kanga Loaders has worked hard to keep its domestic manufacturing viable in the current market. “It is a challenge,” Mr Lehpamer admits. And, he adds, government policies in Australia “don’t encourage you to become a manufacturer,” as they do in many other countries. Therefore, Kanga Loaders relies on “a very strong team and strong processes,” to stay ahead. The adoption of lean manufacturing has been key to reducing waste and maintaining efficiency; having strong supply chain relationships is also important. “To be successful in any business you need to have credible suppliers,” Mr Lehpamer points out. With all of these factors working together, “we are able to really be contenders even with the challenges that we face.”

Currently, Kanga products are distributed through an extensive, highly trained dealer network throughout Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Germany. Twenty per cent of the company’s total revenue comes from exports, and the team is working to increase its dealer network and export numbers even more. “As we continue to grow, most of our growth will come from exports,” Mr Lehpamer predicts. “We are continuing to challenge ourselves as to how we can become more competitive in an international market.”

“Kanga is already boosting sales by providing its own in-house finance solutions to its customers,” Mr Lehpamer explains, and the company has a range of options, able to cater for most anyone’s needs to help them get their hands on a Kanga Loader. Financing possibilities include chattel mortgage, hire purchase, finance lease, operating lease, and bulk limit. Kanga loaders are also available for both long and short term hire from hundreds of hire and rental companies throughout the world.

Once a purchase is made, customers can rely on Kanga Loaders’ service guarantee. The team is governed by the philosophy that “when our customers are successful, the company is successful.” And of course, for customers to be successful, it is absolutely essential that their Kanga Loader runs well. For this reason, all Kanga products are backed by a combination of dealer and factory owned service centres around Australia. Each one of these service centres is staffed by trained technicians able to perform everything from routine inspections to full refurbishments and re-builds. There is a particularly heavy focus on preventative maintenance; in addition, the service centres carry extensive inventory, enabling customers to receive service and parts from one location. Furthermore, Kanga service centres offer customer product education on maintenance and operation to ensure that each customer gets the most out of their Kanga Loader.

With three decades of market leading innovation under its belt, the team is eager to maintain the status of the Kanga Loader as Australia’s number one loader. “We are always going to continue to challenge ourselves and invest back in the business,” Mr Lehpamer says. “We want to continue to develop new product and fill product gaps that we find in the market. We will continue to grow as a business.”

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December 19, 2018, 5:32 PM AEDT