Jeff Grace, General Manager at Easyquip, lifts the lid on an Australian success story.
When Greg Beer began making welded-steel bins from a factory in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley he welded the number 01 into the first bin he made. In February 2022, Easyquip stamped its 61,391st bin.
Skip bins, hook lift bins and waste handling equipment manufactured from the Morwell site are now used by some of the biggest players in the nation’s waste and recycling sector including Cleanaway, Veolia and Suez.
The company has come a long way from its origins in the back shed of another business to help someone in need. What hasn’t changed is the value that “it can be done”.
“It’s part of the company all the way through,” Jeff Grace, General Manager says. “We’re not afraid to try something new.”
It’s that “can-do” attitude that led Greg to start the business in 1993. As Jeff tells it, a local depot truck needed some repair work and nobody in town would take on the project.
“It might have had something to do with the repairs being inside the compactor body and there was still half a load of rubbish in it,” Jeff laughs.
But Greg was undeterred and, working in the back shed of another business, he got the truck fixed and back on the road. His determination was rewarded with more work from waste collection companies, and he began manufacturing bins not long after. The company changed its name to Easyquip in 2009.
“Keeping that ‘it can be done’ attitude, we wanted both our equipment and business to be easy to deal with,” Jeff says.
He says the core business has always been manufacturing equipment for waste collection companies. Australian manufacturing has been a key part of the strategy.
“The Latrobe Valley can be a difficult place to get employment,” Jeff says. “One of Greg’s motivating factors in going into business initially was to provide good employment opportunities.”
Easyquip started a manufacturing plant in Brisbane, Queensland in June 2017. The company now employs more than 60 people across two sites and supplies much of the waste industry throughout Australia’s eastern states.
“Part of giving value to customers is to make sure you have the production capacity that you need to meet the market,” Jeff says. “When the market’s calling for more you need to be able to increase production to meet that and maintain efficiency.
“We want to grow to serve the market and be able to provide Australian manufacturing to them. Our goal is to supply all of the eastern states of Australia from those two facilities.”
Jeff says the company has always sourced and used as much Australian steel as possible in its production, a decision that proved fruitful during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fact we were using Australian steel before, and had a history with key suppliers, meant when things got tight, we already had a relationship and we could get the material we needed,” he says. “COVID-19 meant there was a definite shift to more locally made items. Even now, customers are wanting to purchase more with Australian manufacturers.”
Industrial waste bins, including skip, front-lift, hook-lift and crane-loadbins have been the core of the business since its inception and still account for about 80 per cent of it manufacturing. The remaining portion is moulding plastic lids for the bins and waste compacting equipment.
Jeff says that early on, Greg noticed a failure point in many lids of the bins he was repairing. He invented the Easylid – a revolutionary lid for front lift bins – and added a plastic rotational moulding machine to the factory.
“It’s a single piece rather than two parts and is held up by a counterbalance,” Jeff says of the Easylid.
“It was designed to be safer, easier and more durable than the existing alternatives.”
After 25 years, the company has developed a new version that can be retro-fitted to existing bins. The Prop-A-Lid is spring assisted, which makes it easier to lift, and the prop has been relocated to the centre of the bin.
“We believe it will be a benefit to companies that have a lot of staff who are loading rubbish into bins and potentially finding standard lids awkward, heavy and dangerous,” Jeff says. “Often the unsung heroes of the world, the cleaners and the people out the back putting rubbish in the bins, do find the big plastic lid with the notched prop on the side can be difficult and dangerous.
“This newer design significantly reduces the lifting weight of the lid, reducing risk of injury. Greg has been involved in all of the new designs. He likes to solve a problem from its root cause rather than fix an issue.”
For more information, visit: www.easyquip.com.au