Trakmaster under new ownership

By: Michael Browning, Photography by: Ellen Dewar

Offroad caravan specialist Trakmaster has been sold by founder Russell Seebach to a new Victorian company, which promises it's "business as usual".

Trakmaster under new ownership
Trakmaster, which manufacturers the Pilbara Extreme seen here, has been sold to a new owner.

And a new range of micro-hybrid models will join Trakmaster's traditional custom-built caravans in the company’s line-up in the near future.

Hot on the heels of its 20th anniversary last year, custom offroad van manufacture Trakmaster has been bought by a long-established Victorian family company, whose own caravan-building roots date back even further – to the late 1940s.

New owner, A.F. Gason Pty Ltd, is a heavy agricultural machinery and wood-fired heater manufacturer based in Ararat that employs 130 people and has just celebrated its 70th year in business.

Gason managing director Terry Pye was quick to assure buyers there are no plans to relocate Trakmaster operations from its existing Bayswater, Melbourne HQ, or make changes to Trakmaster’s current staff.

He said for Trakmaster customers, past and present, it would be ‘business as usual".

The sale will inject new capital into the operation that is expected to see Trakmaster increase production, with a new range of micro-hybrid models joining traditional custom-built caravans in the company’s line-up in the near future.

Outgoing managing director and Trakmaster founder Russell Seebach said Trakmaster had already been working on new products to attract younger buyers to the brand, with the current Pilbara Extreme model the first off the block, but he believed the sale would allow these plans to be accelerated.

Gason’s purchase of Trakmaster is déjà vu for the fourth-generation family company whose association with the caravan industry dates back the immediate Post War era of the late 1940s.

Frank Gason’s first venture into building caravans from the ground-up occurred in 1949 when he built a luxury caravan for his own use.  In 1951, he started building vans for instrumentalities such as the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, the Grain Elevators Board etc. Following that, Gason started to build caravans for individual customers both for business and recreational purposes.

Pye also has credentials in the offroad RV industry, having been general manager at Track Trailer in the mid-2000s.

Speaking about the acquisition, Pye said it was a fitting return by Gason to a business with which it historically had been successful with during the late 1940s, 50s and 60s.

"Like Trakmaster, Gason has an outstanding reputation for producing products known for their quality and reliability," he said. "The synergy between the two businesses will continue to provide customers with the highest quality products in both market segment.".

Meanwhile Seebach, who with cabinetmaker Craig Miles founded Trakmaster in 1995 when Seebach couldn’t find production caravans tough enough for the outback tours he was organising, will retain a strong on-going connection with the brand through its owner body.

Seebach said he had been asked by Gason to forge even closer links with the now 584-member strong Trakmaster Caravan Owners’ Club which he helped established in 2000.