JP Shelburn, Managing Director
Yes, it’s been 25 years since the first XL utility service body rolled off the production line. Since 1991, Nick and Kerrie Korganow have built a genuine manufacturing icon. XL Service Bodies continues to be 100% Australian today and remains as committed as ever to producing world-class products using local materials and expertise and a fully local workforce. These are exciting times! Through numerous changes of government, XL has evolved and grown, defiantly bucking the trend to send manufacturing overseas. Instead, the company has focused on implementing cutting edge production methods and nurturing a culture of deep innovation.
Unending evolution drives growth
In everything we do, we are always moving forward. We are extremely proud of our unwavering commitment to improving safety, productivity and compliance for our customers. This, in fact, is one element of our business that keeps us head and shoulders above competitors. We have wholeheartedly embraced technology so that, today, we have our own internal web-based manufacturing program which has taken us from analogue to digital in the most exhilarating ways. Our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system has enabled us to grow the business and what we offer beyond all previous expectations. Tablet devices have become critical tools across our manufacturing operations; they assist us in performing our QA and ISO certification diligence, help all team members stay abreast of output and keep us well supplied with the inventory we need to continue production on a daily basis.
A lot has changed
Over the last 25 years, the work vehicles space has seen tremendous change and a great deal of that has been led by XL. Where the focus used to be on “a place for everything and everything in its place”, much more sophisticated demands have come into play. Today, we address load restraint, payload adherence, OH&S, productivity, user-friendliness and so much more. At XL, we invest enormously in Research & Development and employ some of the best minds in the business to stay on top of changes to legislation, new and improved materials and manufacturing processes and economic fluctuations. Everything we do is designed to deliver the best possible product at any point in time.
A business that has remained true to the tradie
From its humble beginnings to the globally trusted supplier of service bodies that XL has become today, the company has never lost sight of the importance of serving the sole trader plumber or sparky through to major customers across mining, telcos, government, the military and more, both here and abroad. Our foundations were built upon the support of hard-working tradespeople who needed their vehicles to perform as a reliable team member, not just transport them and their tools from point A to point B.
What lies ahead for XL?
The short answer to that is “more of the same”. The long answer is explained in greater detail below. On behalf of the entire team at XL, I would like to humbly thank every customer who has ever entrusted their work vehicle to us, to equip them with service bodies that are built right here for the demanding Australian environment. Here’s to another 25 solid, productive and rewarding years!
Family succession of the XL business
The other big story of 2016 is that my wife Jeanne and I bought the business from her parents, Nick and Kerrie Korganow. Since XL’s establishment, Nick and Kerrie have been inspiring leaders. Theirs is a business whose workforce features some very long-term employees, some of whom we fully expect to retire from here. Whilst it’s way too soon for Nick and Kerrie to retire completely, they did feel called to pass the baton and I’m very proud to say that Jeanne and I have inherited an exemplary organisation, culture and team.
A little back history
After completing University in California, I flew over to Fiji for a gap year and managed a restaurant and bar on a private surf resort. It was there that I happened to meet Jeanne Korganow, XL’s HR Director. We fell in love, I moved to Australia, we were married and I started out building architectural homes in southeast Queensland for about seven years. Nick and Kerrie approached us about five years ago regarding succeeding the business as they were planning ahead for their retirement. Ultimately, I joined XL in a sales and marketing function and after my first year, settled in as General Manager. I spent a great deal of time learning the ropes, studying and making the odd mistake here and there.
The establishment of SBA
What was glaring to me from the outset was that there was a huge market for larger truck bodies. The more I learned about compliance and overloading of vehicles, the more I realised that the market we’re in is pushing its limits. I set the wheels in motion to bring a whole new genre of manufacturing to our factory. Over an 18-month program, we developed a product called an LSB (Large Service Body), and made the decision to work closely with the market leader in trucks, Isuzu Trucks Australia (IAL). Not wanting to alienate our light vehicle market, we created a new arm called Service Bodies Australia. We even hired independent workers for SBA so that we wouldn’t divert resources or cannibalise our existing market.
Nick remains as a Chairman of sorts or, as he fondly puts it, ‘Old Boss’. (I happily wear the ‘New Boss’ hat.) He and Kerrie have been extremely supportive of all decisions I’ve made and his support gives me great confidence. Kerrie is still the company Bean Counter and is looking forward to retirement and spending more time with the grandchildren.
What will change under my leadership?
I’m already implementing improved business efficiencies and being more proactive in customer service. I’m keen to retain key staff but also to bring in more expertise. Overall, I believe in working towards more of a collaborative, open environment where everyone has some value to add.
What do I see as the direction for XL/SBA?
Undoubtedly, I see our business as dominating. We’ve led the way for two and a half decades and I don’t see that changing. Our direction is towards increasing business and reducing costs, minimising waste, moving even more towards lean manufacturing and delivering better customer satisfaction.
What won’t change is the core values that have seen XL (and now SBA) grow steadily and surely, while firmly gripping the leadership mantle and refusing to let go. We are determined to keep local people in gainful employment and to continue using Australian components absolutely wherever is possible. (You may be surprised to know that XL has purchased Blue Scope steel for the entire 25 years of manufacturing.) Under my leadership – as with Nick and Kerrie’s – there will be no compromise on quality, customer service or continuing innovation.
Service Bodies Australia has hit an all-time high with the development we’re putting into our large service bodies, in partnership with IAL. We’ve given their Servicepack program the green light on 5 different model trucks. By the way, the NLR Servicepack won Light Truck of the Year for 2016 in Delivery Magazine.
To sum up, I’d like to say that XL are currently exporting to 17 nations across the world, to customers in emerging economies to the United States Army. Our products have been copied in Asia and sold worldwide and whilst imitation is certainly a high form of flattery, they’ll never do it to the exceptional standards that we do. over the last 25 years, we’ve manufactured tens of thousands of service bodies. In excess of 2,000 XL service bodies are currently in warranty, doing field service work in every region of the country.
This has been quite the epic communication and I thank you for sticking with me to this point, however our two big news stories had to be told. We look forward to sharing more important news with you as XL and SBA head into the next phase.
If you have any questions about the change or our exciting plans for the future, let us know by contacting us.