STEELBRO Transport Solutions

Our History

Today we are proud of our 140 years of quality transport solutions and design innovation.

Transport Solutions History - Dray


Brothers Joseph and David Steel started Steel Bros. Coach Factory in Christchurch New Zealand with just £5 capital each. Although competition was fierce, there was great demand for high quality horse drawn wagons, coaches, gigs and drays. By 1895 Steel Bros. employed 22 staff and had developed a reputation for producing “carriages of an extremely high standard”.

Transport Solutions History – Old Truck

Circa 1900

Steel Bros. took their first tentative steps into producing ‘motor carriages’. The company’s first commercial body building orders were for delivery trucks.


Circa 1930

By the 1930’s, the company was in full swing designing and building motor bodies. Chassis from vehicle manufacturers such as Austin, Dennis, Whippet, Bedford, Chevrolet, Hudson and Leyland all passed through Steel Bros. workshops.

Transport Solutions History – Landing Craft

1939 – 1945

W.W.II provided further impetus to Steel Bros. The Company even received wartime Government contracts for grenade castings and concrete mixers. Staff numbers grew as did new engineering skills.


Transport Solutions History – Early Semi-Trailer

1946 – 1960

Throughout the 1950s and 60s Steel Bros. grew to become New Zealand’s leading motor body building and engineering company. Staff numbers reached 90 and the company had several large manufacturing plants in both Christchurch and Auckland. Steel Bros. began to export initially to Fiji and then to other South Pacific countries.


Transport Solutions History – Early Hiab


In 1967 the first Toyota Corona to be assembled in New Zealand came off the production line. Steel Bros. were at this time well experienced in this area, having assembled over 5000 truck cabs and bodies over the ten previous years including 80% of the rubbish trucks made in the country.


Transport Solutions History - Truck

1970 – 1980

Steel Bros. was at this time a very large and well-respected business. As well as building truck bodies, now assembled an increasing range of Toyota cars. The company also designed and built transport solutions including trailers, semi-trailers and built the Lotus sports car. Steel Bros. exported to the Pacific, South East Asia and the United States.


1980 – 1990

In 1983 a fundamental change occurred. The New Zealand Railways system was deregulated and road transport operators were relieved of the restrictions under which they had previously been forced to operate. STEELBRO (as the company was now known) began to wind down its vehicle assembly and motor body building business and concentrate more on the production of trailers – and one other ground-breaking product.

1990 – Present

Innovative design, high quality manufacture and excellent value for money has made the STEELBRO Sidelifter the preferred option for operators around the world. The effect of the Sidelifter’s success on STEELBRO was so profound that the company decided to concentrate on trailers, container trailers and Sidelifters. Today, STEELBRO is a major supplier of transport solutions to the global commercial transport industry and is committed to it goal of offering the world’s best valued sidelifter.

Quality, cost-effective global transport solutions from STEELBRO.