A LOT OF people come up to me and say I have the best job in the world, as I get to combine my love of four-wheel driving and exploration with my career Ö itís hard to disagree. My journey into the 4x4 industry began well before I was old enough to drive. I have fond memories of when my dad and I used to plan camping trips away, and I was hooked from that early age.
This year has been one to remember, with Ironman 4x4 celebrating 60 years in business as a family-owned Australian company. I often look at the business registration hanging in the head office and wonder what the founderís thoughts were in 1958 when he registered the business, Jacob Spring Works (JSW). Today, Ironman 4x4 is still owned by the foundersí children and it would be hard to find a better place to work.
My role as the director of 4x4 products at Ironman 4x4 means I look after the development, engineering and marketing of a large range of products. Together with the team, we have grown our range of products from a suspension-based company to a leader in all 4WD and camping products. Being a 4WDer first and foremost, I develop our products from the ground-up, taking into account a wide variety of customer requirements and the way a user would want them to work. A lot of the time I come up with the ideas from recent camping trips.
I have been involved in developing many customised products for specialised projects, including Ironman 4x4 products installed on more than 30,000 Ford Rangers for the US Military going into Iraq and Afghanistan, where the vehicles operate in some of the most extreme conditions. OE accessories have also been developed for Nissan South Africa, and the United National and Police Forces around the world; companies which demand the highest quality products, to avoid downtime.
The best part of my role is undertaking the testing, which involves ensuring the products will do what they are engineered and designed to do. This can take us to some of the most remote parts of Australia or around the world. I set a philosophy early on when I joined Ironman 4x4, which is that we will not sell a product that I would not use or fit to my own vehicle, because I understand the impact of a product failing during a trip. This is why the design and testing stage of product development is critical.
With the new vehicles adopting advanced technology, we have had to work these technologies into our designs. The bar for the latest Ford Ranger is an example, as we had to incorporate new sensors that control some of the new safety functions, and the new Ranger also includes selfparking and emergency braking. These functions need to be operational with a bullbar installed in the same manner as they would without a bullbar. This involves an expanded testing regime to ensure the vehicle safety features operate as per the manufacturerís specification.