The History of ARB – Australia’s Biggest Contribution to Off-Roading

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ARB: Starting in the Outback

Wherever your “outback” might be; whether it’s the miles of off-road trails in the Rocky Mountains, the dusty back roads of the Mojave Desert, or the famous Australian  outback, you may recognize the name ARB.

In fact ARB began around 1975 in the remote region of Australia’s Top End. This huge area, with its rugged terrain, was a magnet for the nation’s fledgling four-wheel drive community. But they quickly discovered the very thing that drew them there would have its way with their equipment. The extreme conditions really took their toll, and the  drivers found that only the “best 4X4 accessories” could last.

arb-logo

ARB is arguably the best 4×4 contribution that Australia has made to the world.

One driver in particular, Tony Brown, was exploring the treasures of the Top End, and he developed valuable skills from working on his Land Rover. He had to consistently mend damaged bull bars and broken roof racks because bar work back then was really crude. It just couldn’t meet the demands of the terrain. So Brown came up with an idea based on this experience…high quality equipment for 4WD owners that could. Simple.

Tony returned to Melbourne and started his business in the family garage. His idea was to fix the off-road problems he’d experienced with a combination of sound design principles and reliable raw materials. The concept was a big hit in the 4×4 market, and ARB (the initials of Anthony Ronald Brown) was founded.

So ARB began under the name ARB Engineering Pty Ltd. The business started  manufacturing bull bars and roof racks. Later they expanded into other accessories such as differentials, shock absorbers, and tow bars.

Based in Melbourne, ARB’s primary production facility is located in Kilsyth. ARB listed on ASX (Australia’s stock exchange) in 1987, and they established a 4WD accessories distribution operation in the 1990’s. This includes an office in the U.S. and an export network covering more than 80 countries around the world. With over 200 outlets ARB now distributes and installs a wide range of products such as:

  • winches
  • canopies
  • suspension
  • seats
  • tires and wheels

ARB provides what they call a “pure” exposure to the 4WD segment of the automotive market. Company management claims to be the largest operator in Australia, with a market share of around 30% (not including 4WD tires and wheels). There’s a continuing demand for four-wheel drive vehicles, and ARB is positioning itself to meet and benefit from the market. The company is building and growing from its traditional 4WD-enthusiast customer base. And they supply products to original equipment manufactur-ers in Australia. These include well-known giants of the market like Nissan and Toyota.

Some of ARB’s other very important customer segments are:

•    the mining companies,
•    government departments,
•    commercial fleet owners,
•    4WD tour operators,
•    and the Australian defense forces.

In August of 2003, ARB acquired Kingsley Enterprises, a Sydney-based supplier of 4WD accessories, and now they’re Australia’s largest manufacturer and distributor of 4×4 accessories.  They like to say their philosophy, however, doesn’t veer from its  original course of “quality, reliability and practicality above all else”.

Visit ARB’s website for more information.

2 Comments

  1. Jeep says:

    I have used ARB accessories on my jeep and found that they are of the highest quality and are really a great price. I never knew that they were an Australian company. I guess it makes sense though with all the rugged terrain they have there.

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