The light bulb moment which has transformed into overseas expansion

These happy campers are setting the outdoor adventure world alight.

Aug 22, 2023, updated Aug 24, 2023
Hardkorr's products are hard core

Hardkorr's products are hard core

WHAT started in a garage with a bright idea to produce a boat light kit has exploded into a business which now distributes outdoor gear to New Zealand, the United States, South Africa, United Kingdom, Russia, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates.

Hardkorr Group Marketing Manager Dylan Bowles said the Yatala-based business started 15 years ago with Cameron Cross and Kirk Buckley “two mates who were looking to get ahead.”

“That first Boat Light Kit was a product that consisted of a few LED light modules, a light strip, some silicone, and a few leads,” Bowles said.

“From here, the guys took this product to local camping, boating and fishing trade shows and, after feedback from customers, developed the first LED Camp Light Kit.

“The first Camp Light Kits can still be found in the kit bag of some south-east Queensland camping fanatics to this day – it was a few LED light bars with cables, magnets and velcro in a large PVC pipe.

“Both products are still sold by us to this day, although they’ve both evolved quite a bit since then.”  

A Hardkorr trailer in action

As has the business itself, which now employs 40 people from its industrial estate base.

“We’re focused on enabling the adventures of outdoor enthusiasts around the country, and increasingly, the world. We sell a range of outdoor gear – we’ve got portable solar and batteries for those looking to run their fridge, or even a coffee machine, while out on the road; we’ve got camping lights, driving lights, even camper trailers and caravans, it’s a huge range that we’re continuing to build on,” Bowles said.

“One thing that really sets Hardkorr apart is just how much we’re a part of the community. We’re not just selling gear to the 4×4, camping and outdoor community, we’re really a part of it. Our General Manager, Sam McCarthy, is out 4x4ing just about every weekend, just as the camper trailer team is out camping most weekends – we just love it.”

Hardkorr staff live and breathe the great outdoors

Hardkorr gear is stocked in hundreds of stores Australia-wide, as well as online with top sellers including the Xplorer camper trailer “which will go just about anywhere”; U-Lites with a rechargeable lantern and “a stack of light”; and BZR-X Driving Lights which “throw out an enormous amount of light and are a real statement piece on front of the car”.

“Our secret to success can’t be defined by just one thing alone.  We’re committed to producing a good product, and when challenged, everyone adopts the next man up mentality. It’s a real team culture and I think that goes a long way,” he said. 

“Being so heavily a part of this community allows for us to really take some good practical ideas to the table when we’re designing new products.

“Take our camp lights for example – not only were they the first camp light kit, but we were one of the first to introduce a dedicated orange light. The reason for this? It stops the bugs from harassing you while out camping – it just makes sense, and it actually works.

“As far as products go, we’ve been copied plenty of times, but we’re always on the hunt for our next big idea. Probably our most notable recent idea came with our Hardkorr Xplorer camper trailer. Our team took away one of the most common annoyances with roof top tents, the ladder, and decided to throw a set of stairs on the front of the trailer – simple, but a winner that people are absolutely loving.”

Happy Campers

Bowles said their northern Gold Coast base was one of the fastest growing regions in Australia.

“Doing business on the Gold Coast is convenient – there’s a wealth of talent in the area and there’s just a lot of really good people around,” he said.

“We also had the advantage of being so close to the recently shut Ormeau 4×4 tracks. Tucked away behind suburbia, the Ormeau tracks used to be a place we’d frequent on a Friday afternoon for a bit of fun. We do also have a bit of fun out at Jacobs Well from time to time.

“Those that are fans of the outdoors are just really lucky, the Gold Coast, and really just all of south-east Queensland, has a lot to offer. You can be out fishing, either out on the beach or on the boat most days of the year, there’s some stunning camp sites up in the hinterland, and there’s some incredible four-wheel driving to be done not too far from the coast.

“No matter where you are, you’re always a short drive away from a small slice of paradise.”

The Xplorer 2.2 in action

As for future plans, Bowles said there’s plenty on the cards.

We’re in the middle of preparing for SEMA in Vegas, the world’s biggest automotive show, later this year which we’re anticipating will be a big step forward for us on the global stage,” he said.

“We’ve also got a couple of dozen new products we’re about to release which we think will really take off. And we’ve got loads of events and trips we’re heading out to as well, which is really exciting.”





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