Tow firm hooks up

TriMas managing director Carl Bizon. 133022 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS


AUSTRALIA’S largest manufacturer of towing systems started in Dandenong 65 years ago when a bloke couldn’t find the towbar he wanted.
Eric Hayman decided to design his own and started selling them as Hayman Reese.
The company is today called TriMas Corporation, is based in Keysborough and sells more than $200 million worth of products.
Managing director Carl Bizon said towing equipment remained the company’s biggest product line but it had also diversified into roof racks, side steps and working with caravan manufacturers on trailer components.
It adopted the name of its parent company TriMas about 15 years ago to reflect this diversification.
“They’re a large, multi-national parent corporation based in the US but they, basically, leave us to run our own business,” Mr Bizon said.
“People tow for recreation. They tow for work.
“We’re the specialist at connecting whatever kind of car it is to whatever it is people want to tow.
“The typical Australian tradie will have a ute or a four-wheel drive with a tow bar.
“On Monday he’s towing his building equipment to the job site and on Saturday he picks up his fishing boat.”
From Pacific Drive, Mr Bizon manages 1000 employees in nine other companies around the world from New Zealand to Thailand, South Africa to Germany, Finland and the UK.
“In the seven years that I’ve been here we’ve tripled the size of the company. It’s been a pretty good ride,” he said.
“But I can only do it because we’ve got some really good staff.”
Mr Bizon has his sights on further international growth but will continue to expand employment in Australia.
“We provide jobs for graduates coming out of university – I’ve got 30 engineers here,” he said.
“We’ve got something like 45 different nationalities in the business so we embrace everything that is multicultural Dandenong.
“There’s a good, talented labour pool in the south east.”
TriMas had sites in Dandenong and Lyndhurst before consolidating in Keysborough three years ago.
“I could choose where I put it. I looked all over Melbourne and I stayed right here,” Mr Bizon said.
“It’s a good spot to be.
“We try to spend our money locally wherever we can just to give other people in the area a bit of a leg up to make sure that we all continue to prosper in the south east.”
Mr Bizon also supports the region through business mentoring with South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance (SEMMA) and South East Business Networks (SEBN).
“Australian people expect a certain quality of life. They’re never going to work for the same wages that you can get in Asia,” he said.
“If you’ve got to compete against that, what are you going to do to make it better?
“And you’ve got to let go of those things you know you can’t get any value out of, and you may choose to import those things.”
TriMas was a finalist for last year’s Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Large Manufacturer of the Year award after it was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
“It was a nice recognition that we got nominated,” he said.
“People drive past this building every day and don’t know what actually happens – that we employ 300 people here. It’s a good, growing business.
“It’s a sense of pride for all our staff that they work for a good company and I get a personal sense of pride out of that – that people feel good about being here.
“We sell towbars in Finland. We sell towbars into Russia. We sell stuff in the Middle East.
“And it’s all from a little company based in Dandenong. It’s really quite bizarre.”
TriMas is part of the Committee for Dandenong’s Great Southern Manufacturing – Making it Great … in Dandenong project. Visit to find out more.