Our History

STEELBRO Transport Solutions.
  • 1878

    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 wagons, coaches, gigs and drays. By 1895 Steel Bros. had 22 staff and a reputation for producing “carriages of an extremely high standard”.
  • 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 1930s, 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.
  • 1939–1945

    World War 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.
  • 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, first to Fiji, and then to other South Pacific countries.
  • 1967

    In 1967 the first Toyota Corona to be assembled in New Zealand came off the production line. Steel Bros. were 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.
  • 1970–1979

    As well as building truck bodies, Steel Bros. 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.
  • 1980–1989

    In 1983 the New Zealand railways system was deregulated and road transport operators were relieved of the restrictions under which they had 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.
  • 1990 Onwards

    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.
  • 2015

    In 2015, STEELBRO was purchased by Howard Porter Pty Ltd. Another long-standing business, Howard Porter was established in Australia in 1936 as a pioneering coachbuilder. Today, Howard Porter specialises in the production and supply of road transport equipment and are recognised world over for their range and reliability.