HELLA Australia is marking a major milestone, celebrating its 60th anniversary as a manufacturer and supplier of high-quality products and services to a wide range of customer groups including parts wholesalers and retailers, vehicle manufacturers and specialists across Australia.
HELLA Australia Managing Director, Darren Robinson looks ahead and sees a bright future for the Australian company. “HELLA Australia was established in 1961 as the first HELLA production facility outside Europe,” he says. “The company was set up to develop and produce lighting for Australian vehicle manufacturers who wanted products that were developed specifically for the unique requirements of Australian vehicles and road users, and to reduce freight times and cost. With a large production facility in Australia and with the development of HELLA’s state of the art factory in New Zealand in 1973, both aftermarket and special Original Equipment customers benefitted from the local presence and the HELLA brand gained an undeniable reputation for quality, innovation and durability that remains to this day,” Darren explains.
More recently HELLA Australia has diversified its offerings to the retail and trade markets, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of the rapidly accelerating changes in vehicle technology by expanding its product portfolio to deliver and support the most advanced automotive technology in use today and into the future.
“Today, HELLA Australia comprises four separate sales divisions, all supported from our 5,800 sqm head office and warehouse in Mentone, Victoria,” Darren says.
“These specialist sales and technical teams are a large investment for the company, but we truly believe that we need dedicated people with specific experience and passion for each of the numerous customer groups we supply, to ensure we deliver world class service, technical advice and support for their individual requirements.
“Our independent Aftermarket Division supports our wholesale distributors and, while lighting remains a key focus, our product portfolio to supports workshops with a wide product range comprising of HELLA lighting, electrics and electronics, HELLA PAGID Brake Systems, MAHLE AC and Thermal management programs, and SCANGRIP lighting. All these European brands are leaders and innovators in their respective fields, and all have a no compromise approach to quality,” Darren says.
HELLA GUTMANN SOLUTIONS
“Workshop Equipment is our newest division, having only being set up two years ago. It is staffed by a great team of technical specialists based here in Mentone who are focused on providing access to our HELLA GUTMANN SOLUTIONS range of diagnostics and ADAS calibration equipment, as well as providing training and technical support via our technical helpline. We have invested heavily in this area, as we see significant growth potential as vehicle technology continues to develop, and we believe that we have a duty to train and support independent workshops so that they can carry out the same work that the vehicle manufacturers’ franchised workshops provide,” Darren says.
“HELLA Australia’s Special OE Divisions for On Highway and Off Highway offer lighting, electrical and electronics solutions for local manufacturers across a wide range of applications including truck, trailer, municipal, leisure, emergency services, mining, marine and agriculture sectors.”
With this array of products and services aimed at such a wide swathe of the transport industry, HELLA lives by a series of corporate values that ensure consistency across the company’s activities.
“Our products are innovative, designed and manufactured to be of the highest quality and performance, and to perform under the most extreme conditions, whether the products are in use at sea, on road or gravel tracks, at mines or construction sites. With such high levels of performance and a long lifespan they provide great long-term value,” Darren says.
“As a global company of more than 35,000 employees who advocate a local focus, we rely heavily on our employees in Australia to drive our business. We have a high level of technical know-how within the business and our people are dedicated and passionate, as well as possessing a desire to continuously develop and improve. Our company values: Caring, Passionate, Progressive, Accountable and Collaborative, were written by our employees and are truly embedded throughout our company”.
“Alongside our Values we have a set of Guiding Principles, these are; to focus on individual customer needs; to ensure that we are easy to deal with; to have a flexible, can-do attitude; that product quality is never compromised, and that we deliver what we promise,” Darren says.
“But whilst we place a high emphasis on our people, we know that ultimately it’s our customers that make our company, that spend their money with us, that help to build our brand, and that drive us to improve. We never lose sight of the fact that it’s our customers that ultimately pay our wages”.
“By focussing on our local Values and our Guiding Principles, we will become a better partner, a better company, and a better employer, which in turn will lead to more sales, more jobs and a more rewarding work-life balance for our employees.”
The HELLA Group celebrates its 122nd anniversary this year, and HELLA Australia is firmly committed to remaining a successful partner to the automotive industry as it continues to evolve.
“Our global annual sales top $9bn, and we have more than 35,000 employees, many of whom are involved in intensive, cutting-edge research and development. We have a strong company and we are dedicated to delivering future-proof solutions to all our customers.
“The pace in which our industry is changing is relentless and keeping pace requires huge commitment and financial investment. Globally HELLA invests around 10% of its annual sales into research and development; that’s approximately $1bn each year. This consistent level of investment over many years means that HELLA continues to be a key supplier to the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers, which in turn allows us to bring these products and technologies to support our aftermarket and Special Original Equipment customers,” Darren says.
“As a global Original Equipment supplier our processes and testing regimes are peerless. As a result, our customers gain access to the new products and technology they need to drive long term growth; our parts last longer, reducing costly replacements and labour claims, and their performance is consistently high, so that both our reputation and our customers’ reputations remain strong.”
With a rich heritage, strong corporate structure and diverse product and services portfolio in Australia, the future for HELLA Australia remains exceptionally bright.
“The growth of European vehicles will continue in Australia, and the longer-term shift to electric vehicles will open many opportunities for us, as HELLA is a key supplier of electronics for this growing market. With factories located globally, we have opportunities to tailor our product range to best suit local market needs. And critically, around 45% of the products we sell today come from our production facility in New Zealand, so we are very well placed to respond to market demands in a timely manner,” he says.
With the introduction of HELLA GUTMANN SOLUTIONS, HELLA Australia has transitioned from being a parts supplier to providing products and services to support independent workshops in the repair and maintenance process, including the re-calibration of ADAS cameras and radar sensors, for example.
And by seamlessly and speedily transferring the parts, knowledge, and expertise it receives from its Original Equipment division, its joint venture partners and its suppliers, HELLA Australia can provide the aftermarket and its many specialist vehicle builders with many new and innovative products.
“Our main focus at HELLA Australia is to play our part in ensuring the long-term success of local vehicle manufacturers from the many customer segments we support, and importantly the long term survival of the independent aftermarket,” Darren says.
“We will do this by continuing to provide the highest-quality products, by expanding our product ranges, and by providing high levels of service and technical support. Our employees also set our local aspiration “to keep Australia moving, safely” and with the ongoing support of our customers, we will work together to ensure our roads, our waters and our workplaces are a safer, more enjoyable place to be,” he says.
“On our 60th Anniversary, on behalf of everyone at HELLA, past and present, I would like to thank all of our direct and indirect customers (workshops, fleets, engineers and end-users) for choosing to use our products and for your long-term support of HELLA in Australia. We really value the trust that you place in us and we look forward to supporting you in the years to come,” Darren says.