CJD Equipment’s 45th Birthday

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Updated: February 5, 2019

Initiated on the 4th of February 1974 by founders Ron Rafferty and Rob Jowett, both of whom are still closely involved in the company today, CJD opened the doors of its first branch in South Guildford with just twenty-eight employees.

Now in 2019, CJD’s branch and dealer network spans the country from Australia  capital cities to regional country towns, providing 24/7 sales, parts and service support from over five hundred highly experienced staff with knowledge and skills that is unsurpassed in the industry.
Since its inception, CJD’s growth has been impressive. Partnering with international manufacturers, CJD Equipment is a leading provider of world class equipment and trucks from brands such as Volvo Construction Equipment, SDLG Construction Equipment and Kenworth and DAF trucks.
However, in the beginning CJD also had a focus on agricultural equipment, with several Chamberlain John Deere agricultural dealerships throughout Australia. We had the privilege to sit down with one of the Founders and now Executive Chairman of the company, Ron Rafferty, to find out more about the history of CJD Equipment, what drove him to start the company and some highlights along the way.
Before CJD Equipment, Mr Rafferty and Mr Jowett began their careers as cadets at Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited before being promoted to more senior roles in the company. Chamberlain Industries was one of Australia’s only two farm tractor manufacturers at the time after the Second World War. Chamberlain
manufactured tractors, farm equipment and light duty earthmoving equipment. In 1970 John Deere procured a percentage of the company and it became Chamberlain John Deere. Back then, there were over forty Chamberlain John Deere dealerships in Western Australia alone, this was when almost every rural town had a tractor
dealership which of course is very different to how the industry operates today.
When John Deere joined Chamberlain, the John Deere range of earthmoving equipment had just been launched in Australia, so they had to find a strategic way to sell their brand to the Australian market. Partnering with Chamberlain was a part of this strategy, being a well-known producer of iconic Australian tractors at the
time. Mr Rafferty was put in charge of setting up the Chamberlain John Deere construction equipment retail network across the country which involved a lot of travelling, setting up operations and staffing.
In the early seventies the board of Chamberlain John Deere made the decision to exit the retail business, preferring to be manufacturers and distributors only. After spending the past few years setting up the Chamberlain John Deere retail operations across the country, Mr Rafferty offered to buy the branch in South Guildford, Western Australia.
Gathering up all his assets, he went to his good friend Rob Jowett, who at the time was the General Sales Manager for John Deere Agricultural Equipment, and together they formed a partnership and acquired the Chamberlain John Deere branch in Western Australia on the 4th of February 1974.
As the years went on the story of CJD Equipment is one of growth and change, Mr Rafferty and Mr Jowett acquired numerous agricultural dealerships across Western Australia and Queensland that proved to be successful and continued to excel in the area of earthmoving equipment across the country.
In the late eighties, John Deere acquired all of Chamberlain and gradually shut them down, meaning all tractors and machinery were now imported from overseas.
Around this time, John Deere made a global deal with a Japanese manufacturer resulting in them giving away the distribution of their earthmoving equipment in Australia, leaving CJD without a construction equipment franchise. Fortuitously, CJD  Equipment had built their portfolio over this time and had many other successful
franchises in the transportation and forestry applications.
After John Deere earthmoving equipment was superseded in Australia in the late eighties, Mr Rafferty and Mr Jowett knew they needed to find something else to ensure a well-rounded and diverse offering to the industry.
So, they travelled to Sydney to investigate an opportunity of potentially acquiring the Volvo Construction Equipment business in Western Australia, in those days known as Volvo Michigan Euclid, of which they were successful and took on in 1992.
This was an exciting brand to be involved with especially considering their solid parts business and range of products, such as impressive two hundred tonne rigid dump trucks from Euclid, large Michigan wheel loaders and the entire Volvo product line. Having attained VME in Western Australia, Mr Rafferty and
Mr Jowett then went on to acquire dealerships across multiple states and in 2001, CJD Equipment was appointed the national distributor for Volvo Construction Equipment.
In 1984 one of CJD Equipment’s more significant additions to the product portfolio was made when they acquired the Kenworth franchise in Western Australia which Mr. Rafferty describes as a ‘real feather in their cap’. After ongoing success in the western state, they were able to extend this partnership, being appointed the
Kenworth and DAF dealer in Tasmania in 2008 and in the Northern Territory in 2014.
When asking Mr Rafferty what he put CJD Equipment’s success down to he says experience. For the eighteen years prior to starting CJD Equipment Mr Rafferty and Mr Jowett had been appointing and training dealers for Chamberlain John Deere across Australia. They employed their people, trained staff in stock control, and
facilitated sales training to ensure customer satisfaction.
So, it is fair to say they were very experienced in what they were doing. Alongside industry leading experience Mr Rafferty credits CJD’s success to great brands, great people and fortuitous timing.
In 2008, Alan Barnett was appointed Managing Director of CJD Equipment and has continued to help the business grow and develop CJD’s brand profile. Alan Barnett has been with CJD Equipment since 2001, when he started with the company as Commercial Manager. He was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing in 2003
before being appointed as Managing Director. In 2009, Alan extended his long-term commitment to CJD by becoming a shareholder and joining the two founders at the helm. As well as the drive and determination of Ron
Rafferty and Rob Jowett, CJ Equipment’s growth since day one can be greatly attributed to the fact they have maintained strong customer-centric ethos.
Everything they do is geared towards providing customers with outstanding service, support and expertise delivered with passion and enthusiasm. This all leads to CJD Equipment’s motto of the last 45 years that the team across the country strives to uphold – “Big Enough to Trust, Small Enough to Care”.
For more information visit https://www.cjd.com.au/