Childhood dream becomes a thriving business for Wayne
A Lecarrow native has fulfilled a childhood dream by creating a business selling premium ride-on toy trucks, something he himself wanted in his early years.
The trucks, modelled off the Scania S730, are fully customised with children aged five and upwards in mind, are fully battery-powered, have a top speed of 6km/h and sell for €4,500 each.
Wayne Auchmuty says that he cannot remember exactly when the idea came to him, although it was something that never left his mind as he grew up.
“I must have been between ten and twelve when I first thought about it,” he told the Westmeath Independent. “There was no detail in my thoughts other than it being a cool thing to have.”
Wayne grew up with two brothers and on a farm which has been in the family for generations and was always surrounded by machinery and trucks.
“The farm is a mix of everything from tillage to cattle and sheep. My dad Robert had trucks growing up, so I have a background in machinery and trucks and all I wanted was a toy truck for myself. They obviously weren’t available then, so it was always in the back of my head to make one.”
He went to school in Glanduff National School and Athlone Community College, where his mother Susan was a teacher, before undertaking a degree in Product Design from DIT.
“The course was great because it was heavily dependent on design, prototyping and engineering, so it really helped.
“You’re also taught economics there’s some law in it, so you’re really coming out with a broad range of skills to be an entrepreneur. You get a really good grasp on how things operate if you want to have a go at things yourself.”
After graduating Wayne approached Scania to get the process of creating his dream toy started, but soon realised he wasn’t in a position to move forward with the idea.
“They said to me at the time that if I was serious about it they could give me a preliminary license to develop a prototype, but I just wasn’t really in a position to do it then.
“I went on to work for Major Equipment in Mayo for six years and in design consultancy in Dublin for a year and as a design engineer in Tullamore too, and set up my own business Lakeside Engineering Design in 2014.
“I left it lying idle for those years until 2015 when I went back to them again and told them I was in a better position to carry on with it.”
Wayne simply chanced emailing the person he was in contact with in 2008. To his surprise, he got a response and that man had moved up the ladder in the company. Wayne was told to make a prototype, which he did, which led to him being granted a license.
The business Scaled Rigs officially launched in 2018, and although he admits it is a niche market, Wayne says that sales exceeded what he had initially thought would be reached.
“We started deliveries in early 2019, but the minute it went out online it blew up.
“One of our videos, in particular, has over nine million views, and every now and again they get bursts of attention when they get shared on a new page or site.
“There’s nothing else like it out there. Before we hit production we had over 30 pre-orders. When we hit production then we had 50, which was well above what we thought we’d do in a year.”
The online success of the trucks led to Mercedes reaching out to the business to create a version for them, which the company partly-funded.
Since launching, the business has also been approached by resellers across the world, with the most recent being in Japan.
“Nearly all the European countries are covered by a reseller, along with the UK,” Wayne said. “I’d estimate that there are about 15 trucks here in Ireland, and there’s a good few in the UK.
“We’ve got a lot in eastern Europe, we’ve got some sold in Iceland, four or five at the very north of Finland and three or four in New Zealand. We’ve recently gotten the go-ahead with insurance to sell into the US and Canada so that will be the next market we enter.”
There are a maximum of two trucks in assembly each week with some moulding being carried out in Duleek in Navan and laser cutting in Waterford. Lead-time on an order is about five weeks, although at Christmas that can extend to eight or nine weeks.
“Coming up to Christmas we get people coming to us looking to order one two weeks before Christmas Day and we just have to tell them that it isn’t going to happen! They’re all painted and customised so they take time.
“We start taking Christmas orders from now pretty much, and the last Christmas orders we took last year were in early October.”
However, the trucks are not only sold to children, and much of the Scaled Rigs’ success has come in the form of businesses who bring the trucks to events and exhibitions for promotional purposes.
“We’ve had businesses that have nothing to do with trucking at all order some for points of sale, and a crane company had one at a stand and said the volume of people coming up to them was much greater than normal,” Wayne explained.
“The National Lottery in Holland bought a customised one with Christmas lights all over it and they’ve used it for countless advertisements on TV and Christmas shows. I don’t think companies quite realise how effective of a tool it is.”
The trucks are all produced in Lecarrow, and Wayne says his five daughters test out each one.
“There’s plenty of space here and costs are obviously lower here too,” he said. “We’ve no need to be in a town or city because it’s not the kind of thing that you put in a showroom and get people coming in and buying. They’re not cheap, but they’re serious quality, and they’re the type of thing that can be passed down through generations.
“The girls love the trucks and they’re the pilots for each one to make sure they all work before they’re sent out.”
Another classic Scania is on the way for Scaled Rigs, and Wayne is currently in discussions with another company to create a version for them, although the process can be a long one.
Scaled Rigs can be found on Facebook and Instagram @scaledrigs, and more information is available at www.scaled-rigs.com