Trenchless Australasia (TA): Tell us a little bit about the history of Austeck and what has brought you to where you are today.
Tristan Day: I started with Austeck in 1999 about seven years after its inception in 1992.
Austeck began as a distributor of Pearpoint CCTV products, who were industry leaders at the time, and remained Pearpoint representatives until 2005.
After the acquisition of Pearpoint by SPX, Austeck began its relationship with German manufacturer IBAK who were widely regarded as the industry leader at that time.
We broadened our product range at this stage too, with the introduction of Troglotech, Goldak and Insight Vision technologies as well as moving our distribution and support network into New Zealand and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Our turnover as a result more than doubled and has maintained a steady growth ever since.
TA: Your product range has changed somewhat of late.
Can you tell us about that?
Tristan Day: Late last year we said goodbye to IBAK, our partner of eight years, but simultaneously signed up with new German manufacturer, Kummert.
Since taking delivery of the first Kummert Crawler systems in February of this year, we have sold thirteen more into the region, mostly through the public tendering process, which is a fantastic result and in fact a record for the company.
We have also secured exclusive rights to pioneering robotics manufacturer IST, also from Germany, and Infosense Inc from the Unites States.
TA: Sounds like a great start for Kummert in the region, why do you believe that was?
Tristan Day: They basically wiped the slate clean of the established “÷bolt-on’ style approach to innovation and development by examining all the available technologies in the marketplace, taking the best bits from each and starting afresh.
They even invented a few new ones.
For example, the Kummert crawler system comprises a single camera/tractor configuration to cover a pipe diameter inspection range of 130 mm to 1500 mm.
It is the only system on the market with that capability.
Up until now, in order to cover the same range contractors and councils alike would have needed up to three crawlers, two cameras, auxiliary lighting and a plethora of wheels and spacers.
In fact, with some systems it can take up to 20 minutes to reconfigure a crawler from a 150 mm set up to a 600 mm setup.
With Kummert, it takes less than 5 seconds.
The result is a system that is not just cheaper to acquire, deploy and maintain, but has a greater level of functionality too.
It was described perfectly by a seasoned CCTV operator at a recent tradeshow when he said “It ticks all the boxes with ticks to spare!”
TA: What differentiates the products you sell from those of your competitors?
Tristan Day: We make a point of representing the most progressive companies in the industry.
We are not interested in competing on price alone and therefore must offer a competitive edge to our clients over their competition.
Experience has shown us that the Australasian trenchless community is better educated than ever before and participates in the industry on a global scale not just a local one.
They attend all the big overseas shows and are fully conversant in all the technologies available worldwide.
We leverage that heightened awareness by aligning ourselves exclusively with leading edge OEMs and ensuring we are always at the forefront of industry progress and development.
TA: You mentioned earlier that you broadened your support network into the region.
How important is the service arm of your business?
Tristan Day: Critical.
We have just finished a complete overhaul of the service facilities at our head office in Alexandria and have revamped our jobbing system to increase productivity and decrease downtime to our clients.
All new systems now come with a service logbook and twelve month workmanship guarantee on all serviced items.
We will also be publishing service bulletins as part of our monthly newsletter to further enhance customer awareness on matters of best practice for both the use and maintenance of their equipment.
Without adequate service for the systems we sell, the business model we rely upon simply wouldn’t work.
In order for our clients to enjoy the success they do with the equipment they buy from us they must have reliable backup and support and in fact demand it.
To provide that support Austeck not only insists on skilled and trustworthy people in house but places profound importance on the respectful, proactive and transparent relationships it has with its suppliers.
TA: What about support for systems you no longer sell?
Is that a service you still offer?
Tristan Day: Absolutely.
Over 80% of the service work we do is on brands we no longer sell.
Obviously that will diminish over time as we trade those systems in for the new ones but it is most definitely a necessity for our clients at the moment.
TA: What about parts?
Tristan Day: If there is no support from the brand manufacturer themselves we either go direct to their suppliers or have the parts we need manufactured.
In the case of the latter it often means we can perform modifications that give the components a higher level of functionality or make them more reliable.
TA: What lessons have you learnt from the past and how have they shaped your vision for the future?
Tristan Day: Despite our twenty-two year track record in the industry we, like all suppliers in the business, cannot afford to rely on our history to secure our future.
Companies must evolve and adapt with the challenges they face and we, like the companies we represent, strive to do just that.
The plan for the future is to further grow the business and broaden our product range and expertise by introducing at least two new technologies a year into the local industry whilst continuing to nurture the existing relationships we are fortunate enough to have already.