David Isbester kicked off his business from humble beginnings in 1986 at just 25 years of age and today, over 36 years later, DMI Engineering has become a household name for local and national transport, truckies and travelers.
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Owner of DMI Engineering, David Isbester and hear about the journey of his business which spans more than three decades. A journey full of ups and downs, success and determination. David’s story is amplified by his brilliant and humble character, and his passion for his work and business.
Before the birth of DMI Engineering, Dave, then in his early 20’s, had been a Station Manager harvesting in North Queensland where he also did a bit of mechanic work for the clients he was harvesting for. As luck would have it, this bought him to Gunnedah, NSW where he set up the foundations for DMI Engineering.
“I did my trade in the late 70’s as a Plant Diesel Mechanic in Newcastle, then when I came to Mullaley I was working on the tools solidly for 3 years, then went on to work 4 and a half years with Pedro Engineering where I gained my Boilermaker and Pressure Vessel First Class Welder tickets,” said David.
“From there I went out on my own and have never looked back, still here 36 years later operating as a sole trader.”
In the early days David traded as a ‘solo contractor’, and in 1992 his brother-in-law came up with the DMI logo after David’s initials – David (D) Mark (M) Isbester (I) – and DMI Engineering was born.
One thing that stuck out from my conversation with David is his passion for making a difference in the little country town of Mullaley by not only servicing the transport, mining and agriculture industries but by pushing to establish DMI Engineering as a major road train hub and well recognised service centre locally and Australia wide.
“We work on anything from road transport, AB-triples, B-Triples, full double road trains, stock floats down to your humble truck and low loader, tippers, farming tractors, chaser bins and headers,” said David.
“Headers are one of our specialties, we rebuild and extend bent draper fronts and platform fronts for clients as far away as Esperance in WA.
“In terms of our header hitches that we designed and marketed back in 2005, we’ve sold in excess of 3 and a half thousand in every state of Australia and some exported overseas.
David has worked with various mines in the region including a big job they did for Narrabri Coal when the mine was kicking off, tackling 164 of the 8 by 4 and a half metre rio bar cages for the entry and exit out of Narrabri Coal.
DMI Engineering also work with many of the Mining and Wholesale Supplier businesses in the area which is backed by their extensive spare parts range which caters for the customer with a broken lawnmower and travelers needing caravan repairs right up to your road trains and dozers.
After decades of making a well-respected name for DMI Engineering, David said establishing a hub is the next step.
“We’re in the process of gaining full road train access through RMS and local council, which will allow us to have a third access here where road trains can come and drop a trailer off if a repair needs to be done, leave it with us and come back later to pick it up,” said David.
“The intention is to soon be a major road train hub and extend on the shower and toilet facilities we currently have to eventually set up donga type accommodation for those needing our services.”
Following the completion of Grain Valley Way, there’s been an influx in heavy interstate transport travelling through the area and David aims to harness that.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Dave. DMI Engineering, like everyone else have had it tough with 3 or 4 years of drought immediately followed by the mouse plague, and then last year the region was looking down the barrel of one of the biggest harvests in living memory which was nearly washed away by the heavy rain fall and floods. “We’ve had plenty of challenges, but we’re still here,” said David.
Sadly, 14 months ago David also lost his partner of 8 years to sudden death. “My life hit rock bottom when I lost my beautiful partner so, this time last year, I went on a big trip and did 16 odd thousand km’s throughout 4 states, had a bloody good look around and found myself again,” said David.
“I’m approaching 62 but I’m not ready to hang up the boots yet, I want to see just how much we can grow DMI Engineering over the next 5 to 6 years.
“I still run rings around the young blokes these days and still have plenty of spirit in me, and I look forward to kicking a few asses and a few goals.”
After his trip, David observed that there’s nowhere between Dubbo, Narrabri and Tamworth, basically until Tenterfield, where there is somewhere that works on road trains and his dream of a hub in Mullaley started to take shape.
“We’ve recently put on Katharina, a young lass from Germany who’s keen as mustard to learn on the job and we’re just starting to rebuild our crew as the region starts to kick off again following a tough few years,” said David.
“More and more customers are starting to again come through our gates, and we have the facilities and equipment here to get any job done.
“In 2022 we’ve seen things ramp up, with most of us over Covid; we’ve seen everyone wanting to move forward, get back to our freedom and make a quid again.”
Over the life of DMI Engineering, David has put through 5 or 6 apprentices and employed dozens of qualified tradespeople and office admin staff. With just two employees at the moment, they are ready to gear up and add on a few more people to the team.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to work for David at DMI Engineering, Katharina filled us in: “It has been great because I’ve worked for so many different types of employers in Australia and most of the time I’ve just been another number; at DMI it’s a friendly environment where we can have a laugh, I feel comfortable asking for help and David gives me the confidence to get in and work hard.”
I could have sat and talked with David for hours about his interesting and heartfelt journey. As David put it, “It’s been a difficult journey, but it’s been a very fruitful and life changing journey, I could write a book about it.”