Darren Sutton turned his ideas into a real business and started Madminer Trailers in 2019 with the assistance of the NEIS program at Box Hill Institute. He manufactures on and off road adventure trailers for small 4WDs, SUVs, sedans and hybrid vehicles.
Darren had had his business idea for a couple of years and when he heard about the NEIS program through his job service provider, he decided to conduct some comprehensive research and develop a business proposal to get his foot through the door. He said, “It is a great place to begin a new career, either as a business owner or in business management.”
NEIS prepared Darren for success by helping him develop his business and financial plans, which are the basis for successfully operating business. It also gave him marketing skills, and a sense of self-belief and self-confidence. He said, “My teacher’s skills and experience particularly in marketing across the region have been invaluable as he has put me in contact with suppliers and provided information about potential regional marketing opportunities.”
The NEIS program provides students with a mentor to assist with their business plans. Darren said his mentor, Kevin Bascomb, was fantastic and provided a valuable sounding board for advice. He said, “The best advice in my opinion is to constantly refer to the business and financial plan and make changes to the plan as necessary.”
Madminer Trailers stands out in the market because it supplies a products into a niche market that is pretty much untapped in Australia. Its trailers use a standard chassis platform, which is incredibly strong whilst maintaining light weight and a small footprint.
Unfortunately for Darren, 2020 has brought tough challenges for his small businesses. The summer bushfires massively impacted the potential market for camper trailers. Then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and this has results in supplier part shortages, lockdowns, total lack of leisure activity by potential customers and re-sellers closing their doors for lengthy periods. But, as hard as things are right now, Darren is determined to stay positive and prepare for the future.
For those interested in studying NEIS, Darren’s advice is to do your research, know your market, look for sales opportunities and do some basic cost of sales and profit analysis. He said, “Most importantly, don’t be afraid to have a go. If you have an idea, think about it, research it, flesh it out, and then fill out an application.”