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Outback Accessories: Industry Insider

By Ray Cully, 08 Jun 2016 Gear

Outback Accessories: Industry Insider

Western Australia’s Outback Accessories prides itself on making tough-as-nails aftermarket gear.

Back when the Western Australian four-wheel drive industry was in its infancy, Outback Accessories was established under the watchful eye of Adrian Stafford, a highly respected and well-known name in the industry.

It was originally located in Welshpool and operated as the exclusive manufacturing arm for the then young and growing 4WD accessories company, Opposite Lock.

Many happy customers later in 2003, Adrian and his partners decided to focus on a new strategic direction. This opened up an opportunity for new owners to grow the already respected Outback Accessories name into the prominent WA-owned-and-operated business it is today.

In house laser cuttingJessica da Silva and her husband Ross were already well-versed in what was needed to run a successful engineering business, having owned their own engineering firm back in South Africa. There are plenty of similarities between the Australian and South African environments and the conditions to which we subject our 4x4s and we’ve grown to expect great-quality products from trusted South African brands.

The Outback Accessories business was a perfect fit for the Da Silva’s philosophy and family mantra: it must be fit for purpose, look good and be built to last.

All of the Da Silva family is involved in the business, with Carmen controlling sales, Nadine managing quality control and logistics, and their son following in Ross’s footsteps to manage operations.

Packing and distributionJessica admitted with a smile: “It was a steep learning curve for me as the customer interface, sorting questions for all things 4WD.” But despite her gentle demeanour and humble beginnings within the WA 4WD community, Jessica is now a force to be reckoned with. She has held the respected position of chairperson for the 4WD industry division of the Motor Trades Association since 2008, and was subsequently asked to sit on the board of the MTA.

The proof of customer satisfaction is in the numbers. Jessica proudly explained that Outback Accessories has never looked back and continues to grow year on year, even during the debilitating GFC. “It was Ross’s expertise and skills in fabrication that allowed him to focus on reorganising the factory, and we soon took the business to a whole new level,” she said. The business moved to Jandakot and the team has grown to nearly four times its original size. This is a testament to the products it makes and its commitment to the ongoing satisfaction of its clientele.

Outback accessories rear barVehicle protection is a primary focus for Outback Accessories. It still manufactures a limited range of traditional steel bullbars and side steps to suit older vehicles, but, as Jessica explained, there was a niche in the market for a more affordable, uniquely styled tube bar. Hence the company’s eye-catching Xrox Xtreme Sport bar range and complementary accessories.

Similar in aesthetics to competition-styled bar work, the Xrox Xtreme makes a bold statement on any 4WD. But make no mistake; this bar is solid steel construction and zinc-coated with heavy-duty powdercoating. Lighter than a conventional commercial bar, it boasts a significant improvement in approach angles over standard OEM bumpers,
six built-in recovery points, two jack points, two tow hook positions, two recovery eye locations and no less than nine mounting points for lights, aerials or flags. Plus it has the ability to house a low-mount winch.

Another unique feature of the Xrox range is that the side wings are removable for easy repair or replacement. Outback Accessories also produces matching Xrox rock sliders, twin-tube rear steps and underbody bash plates to provide your vehicle with the maximum body protection when off-road.

Off road vehicle protectionIf you’re left scratching your head thinking there’s no way such a cool-looking bar is going to pass muster with the boys and girls in blue, you can breathe easy. The good news is that on a standard vehicle it is legal.

Jessica said they consulted with a range of knowledgeable resources in the 4WD industry and Outback Accessories’ engineers went to considerable effort with its design. The end result, having appropriately engaged with the Department of Transport, is that this bar follows the Australian standards for backward-facing angles and no open-end frames. It also meets approved bar testing for ADR airbag compliance through Automotive Safety Engineering in South Australia.

Research and development is a big part of Outback Accessories’ success and a key reason behind its continued growth in a very competitive and ever-changing consumer market.

Outback accessories use high quality steelThe company also produces a range of locally manufactured products with a quality steel construction to endure the rigours of the Aussie bush. Covering all the practicalities for off-road driving, the Outback Accessories range provides single- and double-caddy rear wheel carriers, battery trays, jerry can holders, Hi-lift jack mounts, wheel carrier aerial and camp light mounts. It even does a clever remote winch cradle, extending the usable application and functionality of the standard winch to allow for rearward recovery.

There’s a good reason Outback Accessories has enjoyed consistent growth, and that’s the hard work put in by a dedicated team who are committed to innovative design, excellent functionality and product durability.

Importantly, Outback Accessories does everything in-house to maintain a consistency in quality – from design, building prototypes and manufacturing, to welding and bending. Only the powdercoating process is done off-site, but it’s still through a local WA company.

Bending press in houseJessica told 4X4 Australia she believes the company is the right size and has the flexibility to accommodate smaller market volumes and shorter production runs. The company also keeps the development time from concept to prototype realistic. This can be seen in the range of Outback Accessories products for the Suzuki Jimny, which is now exported to New Zealand. Meanwhile, other products are exported to Europe, the Arab States and the Philippines. Recent inquiries have also been received from South America and South Africa.

Jessica said: “When a new vehicle is released a request for a replacement tank is usually the first enquiry we receive, closely followed by a battery tray to accommodate a second auxiliary battery. Front and rear bars are generally next, but we usually wait for someone definitely wanting a front bar, as it will involve detailed cutting of body panels and, therefore, the vehicle absolutely has to go out with the bar fitted. Tanks and trays aren’t as complex, as you can return the vehicle to standard relatively easily.”

Products ready to be shippedBeing a manufacturing company, Outback Accessories doesn’t have a direct customer outlet. However, its products are readily available through Opposite Lock stores across Australia, plus a select number of approved independent 4WD specialists. With every Outback Accessories product, suppliers are provided with detailed instructions and fastening kits to ensure consistent and quality fitment.

For more information on the product range and your closest retailer, visit the Outback Accessories website.