Earthmoving Equipment, Engines, Filters, Hydraulics, Parts, Tyres

Tilly’s Crawler Parts boosts inventory

Its new parts sales are going from strength to strength, but the team at Tilly’s Crawler Parts keeps a sharp focus on its used parts division, where it all began

Tilly’s beginnings were in dozer parts

“Our long-standing and knowledge-able team of parts interpreters are an essential component in our business.

“Over 200 years of combined industry experience means that, even with minimal information, our customers are guaranteed to receive the right part, at the right price, right now.”

Those were the words of Tilly’s Crawler Parts general manager Lance Hinrichsen when the Toowoomba-based business was inducted into the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame in late 2020.

It’s a worthwhile anecdote from Hinrichsen, especially when one considers how much the business has evolved since its establishment 37 years ago, when it began as a business selling used dozers and parts.

“Originally we sold dozers and dozer parts – that’s where the name Tilly’s Crawler Parts came from,” Tilly’s founder and managing director Andrew Tilly says.

Today, Tilly’s offers a variety of different services and products to its growing customer base, which extends across Australia and around the world. Among the services is a new online purchasing platform launched last year, and an ever-growing range of new aftermarket parts which Andrew says is the fastest growing component of the business.

While the new parts section features 40,000 product lines in stock, Tilly’s Crawler Parts also has a large array of used earthmoving parts.

Andrew understands the demand for both new and used parts from both sides of the fence. For customers, the wait for repaired parts means more downtime for machines.

“Downtime becomes more expensive for the operator. They just want to get another bit and keep moving,” he says.

“We can give the customer everything they need to get back into action and back earning money.”

From a business perspective, the value of offering both used and new parts means Tilly’s can always provide customers with the best solution to get them back on track – sometimes literally.

“Most sales are a combination of new and used parts. A customer may be able to get some bearings for a gearbox over in Perth, but they can’t find a gearbox housing over

in Western Australia, so they’ll ring here, and we’ll be able to supply that gearbox housing”, Andrew says.

“If we can supply the gearbox housing, we can then offer the bearings as well. Customers don’t need to ring more than one place to get the whole solution.”

Tilly’s used parts department exceeds 15,000 items in stock at any one time, with dismantled machines making up a large portion of the business’ 20 acre (8ha) yard.

The parts, which Andrew says total thousands of tonnes, have been sourced and stripped from over 6,000 machines dismantled at Tilly’s, ranging from modern machines all the way back to those manufactured in the 1930s.

Dozer parts have always been a staple of the used parts inventory at Tilly’s; however, customer demand has meant parts for other popular earthmoving machines are also stocked, including excavators, wheeled and track loaders and graders.

Specialising in Caterpillar-branded parts, Tilly’s Crawler Parts also stocks parts from other major manufacturers such as Komatsu, Hitachi, and John Deere Construction.

Andrew says stocking used parts is an extensive process considering the effort that goes into getting the parts into inventory and on shelves.

“We have to purchase the machines, which sometimes don’t start, then get them lifted onto a transport and lifted off again,” he explains.

“As they arrive, we get them washed. If they are still drivable, we’d give them a test drive to check the components. If they’re not drivable, our skilled team dismantles them, ensuring the parts remain intact. It’s an involved process, that’s for sure, and we are really proud of our team and the reputation we have built for providing quality used parts for our customers.”

While other used parts dealerships keep components on machines and strip them as required for customers, Tilly’s prefers to dismantle the machines in their entirety and add the parts to inventory by part number.

Andrew says the knowledge of the sales team at Tilly’s is very good and, together with its access to beneficial freight rates from over 100 different companies, customers can get used parts to anywhere in the country quickly, and for less.

While machines will continue to age over time, the demand for used parts is unlikely to wane. As Andrew explains, some parts, particularly for older machines, can’t be bought new, either genuine or aftermarket, making used parts the only option.

“Most repairs of components start with the machine breaking, e.g., the gearbox housing, which you can’t buy new. The first thing you need to find is a new gearbox housing before you can start putting new gears inside.

“It’s the same if you damage the engine and it’s a conrod out the side of the engine block or a stick through the radiator tank. These components are not available new, and that’s where Tilly’s comes in. We can supply both the components and the parts to go in them.

He also says that while availability is often the biggest consideration when sourcing repair parts for earthmoving machines, the choice often comes down to customer’s personal preference.

“Some people do prefer second-hand original and genuine Caterpillar parts,” he says.

“If they have the option between a genuine second-hand part or a new aftermarket part, often they’re around the same sort of price, for a crank shaft for example.”

Tilly’s range of used parts, in addition to its ever-growing selection of new stock and other components of the business, continue to deliver on their promise – right part, right price, right now.

Andrew did offer some advice for potential buyers of used parts, suggesting the complexity of the used part inventory is best navigated by talking to one of Tilly’s 14 parts interpreters.

“Our team really knows their stuff and can make sure you are getting exactly what you need,” he says.

For more information, visit: www.tillys.com.au or call 07 4633 6000.

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