Hailing from Croatia, Ivan Vodanovich migrated in the late 1960s during the first wave of voluntary Croatian migration into Australia in order to escape communism. After spending time in a refugee camp in Italy, Ivan arrived in Australia at the age of 20 where he began working in Sydney as an assembly line production worker for British Motor Corporation (BMC). He soon moved onto Steel Works as a construction worker, before moving to Western Australia. Ivan moved onto a mining centre in Port Hedland before returning to the east and working in the Hunter Valley.
By 1970, Ivan moved on to become a technician for Scania in Sydney, later marketing the brand in Melbourne. Continuing to develop his skills, Ivan explains, “Having a thirsty knowledge of engineering and chassis engineering, I worked in various large projects and later on moved into a position as a service engineer doing field investigation amongst many other things and also conducting training courses.”
It wasn’t until 1978 that Ivan decided to establish his own business. “Prior to this I was putting together power steering units from my own backyard,” he explains. “At the time, that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my days, but my destiny was something different.
“After spending many years gaining a great deal of experience, when I went out on my own I discovered that there was demand to do other things for a number of leading companies including the likes of Kenworth and Rockwell.
“We moved from my home garage to the Footscray West site which at the time was a derelict yard with a horse stable. Eight of us would come in to work every day, lock the doors and lock the gate so that nobody knew that any business activities were going on. We had millions of dollars worth of customer inventory and it was very risky to keep it here. The eight of us came here to work day in day out – up to 16 hours a day doing component remanufacturing and a range of work for various companies,” explains Ivan.
Continuing to gain extensive engineering knowledge, in the early 1980s Ivan was approached by leading terminal tractor manufacturer Ottawa Truck Corporation based in the town of the same name in Kansas, USA. Ottawa wanted Dayworth International to handle and distribute its products in Australia. “Knowing that it was an entirely new field and something that had never been sold in Australia in large numbers, we undertook the project; envisioning the ability of the terminal tractor to change the way the Australian transport industry and other industries moved their trailers. We had the foresight to see that such a product would be required in order to handle this task efficiently.
“Today, it’s practically impossible to imagine running a transport or logistics business without one, or even several terminal tractors. They save time, improve efficiency and throughput of both small and large distribution centres. In addition, terminal tractors only use one sixth of the fuel needed to operate a prime mover, therefore reducing emissions gases dramatically,” he states.
“While terminal tractors were utilised for a long time overseas before being used in Australia, it did take some time for them to be accepted as an efficient alternative to the prime mover here in Australia. Even after 30 years of intensive marketing and countless leading companies embracing and recognising the needs for terminal tractors, there are still some companies that are resisting to implement them, opting instead to use retired road vehicles that could cost them dramatically in productivity, repairs and fuel consumption – in one year equating to more than the cost of purchasing a terminal tractor. They don’t quite understand that a terminal tractor is actually an asset, not an overhead – and when used correctly, is the most efficient vehicle in any fleet. We are seeing many companies that had resisted the concept for many years starting to embrace the terminal tractor – most realising that once being introduced to the terminal tractor, they could not do their distribution or trailer logistics without one.”
As well as manufacturing and distributing new terminal tractors, Daysworth also has the capacity to completely rebuild/remanufacture terminal tractors that were completely written off – transforming them into as new condition with a full 12 month warranty. “We can refurbish terminal tractors that aren’t even in working condition in order to provide an extra 15-20 years of service. Many of those that we remanufacture are well over 20 years old,” Ivan says.
Since Daysworth first provided the Australian market with terminal tractors, a great deal has changed including the ergonomics in order to fully comply with Australian standards and OH&S. “We are very conscious of OH&S. Our vehicles have exits on each side of the chassis, behind the cabin and on the driver side door in case of an emergency. A key feature of the terminal tractor is its rear sliding door which is essential from an economical point of view. It improves efficiency by allowing the operator to connect all of the trailer hoses and electrical leads from within the cabin. It is simply a matter of opening the rear sliding door to connect everything. To release the turntable, it is a simple push of a button from within the cabin,” explains Ivan.
He continues, “In recent times, we have come to realise that some customers are facing issues in various applications such as magnetic fields where normal electronic transmissions don’t work. I am very proud to say that we have recognised the needs in the heavy industry for unique and specific terminal tractors. The solution we have developed for these special requirements is the Daysworth HT180 – a 6×4, 180 tonne high performance industrial tractor. The Daysworth HT180 is the largest and biggest terminal tractor in the world and we produce it right here in West Footscray using an Ottawa cabin. Without even advertising this new development, we are already getting enquiries from several countries.”
Daysworth carries a large amount of stock including change units for differentials, power steerings, gearboxes and tail shifts making it a one-stop shop for terminal tractors. In addition, it also provides many services for the heavy vehicle industry. Daysworth also made a large investment in making its 4×2 and 6×4 terminal tractors able to be used on unconditionally on Australian roads. It is the only company in Australia to provide road legal terminal tractors that fully comply with Australian design rules and carry compliance plates.
Daysworth is now looking to the future. A new state-of-the-art factory is set for completion by April next year, only a short walk from the current purpose-built factory. The new factory will be used for repairs, services, parts and an assembly line for terminal tractors. The current facility will continue to be utilised for component remanufacturing – where the terminal tractors will be dismantled before being transferred to the new facility and bolted onto the chassis.
Ivan explains, “When I started the business 31 years ago, I never imagined that it would become what it has today. No matter what I achieve, I always want to keep on getting better and I guess that it’s this mentality that has propelled Daysworth to achieve as much as it has. Our motto is innovation driven by vision and we abide by that – we are innovative, we have a clear vision and we have the passion to achieve it.”