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Body builder’s bouncing back

THE Howard Porter business is set to make a comeback after its purchase by CBH subsidiary Bulkwest, which plans a big research and development push.

Bulkwest commercial manager Peter Zurzolo said he believed the market needed new products to stimulate demand, something Howard Porter had let slip during the recent past under its former Singaporean owners.

Howard Porter, with a long history as a WA commercial truck and body builder, was shut down in November despite almost halving its workforce in the face of a rural and regional downturn.

Bulkwest has since bought the name and operations for an undisclosed sum, relocating the business from O’Connor to Bulkwest Engineering’s premises in Spearwood where its specialises in the fabrication of bulk containers, handling equipment and storage facilities.

“In our business we do a lot of R&D work,” Mr Zurzolo said.

“We need to be innovative to be market leaders.

“I think in the past two to three years they had lost that edge.”

He said it was hoped Howard Porter products could be marketed nationally again, an area where Bulkwest had achieved some success, most notably a multi-million dollar contract to build a cotton seed shiploading facility at Newscastle, NSW.

“We see opportunities in the east coast, having said that the WA market is an encouraging one,” Mr Zurzolo said.

“We will be rebranding the (Howard Porter) product and going out there in a big way. We want to be number one in commercial trucks.”

Bulkwest claims it has taken on about half Howard Porter’s 55 employees and hopes to bring on more former staff with specialised skills as the new acquisition gains some impetus in the market.

“We believe we can take control of the costs again,” Mr Zurzolo said.

“Because of our size and the fact that we are already running a fabrication shop there are certain synergies.

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