Drew Price has been exclusively involved with the kart industry for the past 32 years.
The name is known, but perhaps not really understood here in the UK and Europe, DPE is the biggest name in Karting in Australia bar none. There are 7500 licence holders in Australia, which makes their ASN substantially more numerate in kart terms than the UK. DPE serve all the non-competitor kart shops in Os which equals an astonishing 96% of all retail outlets for kart equipment.
Drew Price is still very much in control of his domain, he remains Managing Director with 35 employees under him. That is not to say that the company is run as an autonomy, by all accounts a close knit family management atmosphere exists. However I am sure that the Drew Price attitude for excellence permeates right through to the tea boy!
DPE manufacture at least 200 chassis per annum, 60% of these are for their most popular class, Rotax Max. 20% go to the 100cc Yamaha category, 15% to the 125 ICC classes, although much of this production is exported to the USA and Canada. The final 5% of their production total is for Junior and Cadet. There is no mention of a 100cc Formula A percentage, how things have changed on the world stage.
There is a serious development programme ongoing for the new Rotax DD2 chassis. DPE believe that there is good potential for this class in their home market.
Drew Price and his team believe that the time is now right to make a bigger splash in Europe. Wherever Arrow appear they are front runners, the Rotax World finals bear testament to that.
Because DPE are net importers into Australia they are able to benefit from advantageous export rates. This allows them to compete on the European market without too much of a transport penalty. The product is very good and we can expect to see some more aggressive marketing in the near future. 40% of the current production is already exported and the factory has the capacity to increase production to match demand.
The factory is geared to volume production, much of the chassis welding is done by robot, the quality is plain to see. Since I last looked at an Arrow chassis closely, just a couple of years ago, there has been another step forward in terms of finish and the quality of the welding. All the main chassis tubes are imported from Italy. This steel is sourced at the same factory as most of the top Italian manufacturers. Where Arrow are unique is that their chassis are all heat treated. Heat treatment is not a subject that they were keen to discuss, save to say that it is done and that they have accrued much experience over the past 16 years in exactly how to apply the treatment to best benefit their karts. Such is the confidence in their product that DPE offer a conditional warranty on all chassis sold.
Australia is famous for the quality of its Aluminium. It will come as no surprise therefore that DPE produce all their Alloy accessories in house. Their trademark purple anodised finish is still in evidence, but joined these days by many components of all the colours in the anodiser’s spectrum, which are marketed under the Kartech banner. Hopefully, without detracting from the brand image, Kartech is to Arrow what Freeline is to Birel. To cope with this volume of production DPE have 5 modern multi axis machining centres, which run constantly. All hubs,sprocket and disc carriers as well as steering bosses and engine mounts are produced this way. There is no slavish copying of European design. There are many practical innovations, which make the Arrow brand stand-alone from the regular designs that we find hard to tell apart. 80% of all Arrow products are manufactured and finished in house.
DPE have cornered 80% of the Australian market with their Arrow chassis’ that is the statistic without factoring in the distribution of the Kartech range of products in addition.
Rotax is an important part of the DPE organisation. As distributors for Australia DPE have been very successful in marketing the Max range of engines since the came into being in 1998. Australia remains, as it has always been, in the top three destinations in the World for Rotax Max. As a driver, if you are not a Max aficionado you will certainly be involved in the Yamaha class. DPE are also very active in this area. They have a specific model of chassis, which is particularly designed around the Yamaha, in this way Arrow cover the great majority of the Ausralian karting scene’s needs.
DPE are also the Bridgestone tyre distributor for Australia, as a result much of their national racing competes on Bridgestone rubber.
DPE are housed in a very modern facility, which has large spotlessly clean work areas. The stores are also within the main factory building but separated and have up to the minute packaging and dispatch methods in place. The factory has all the attributes of the best that Europe can offer with a great product line.
The Management of DPE is as I said, headed by Drew Price, however he has a team of eight in management with twenty seven on the factory floor
Second in command is George Turton who is the company general manager.
Jon Bussell is in charge of International marketing. Jon has many years of experience with Top Kart and Energy in Italy as well as helping the talented John Targett onto the International scene as a driver. Jon has turned his passion for Karting into a career, he is one of those people who knows everybody and has accrued a vast amount of knowledge about the sport along the way.
DPE have done well to recruit him, I am sure he will be a valuable driving force behind any future plans to invade Europe!
The role of production manager falls to Jo Posch, this is the interaction between shop floor and management, ensuring that the two are always working in harmony. A vital link in the family atmosphere that is so important to the company.
National Sales manager is Carl Neilson needs no explanation, 80% of the Australian market speaks for itself, nonetheless a very important role maintaining the existing markets and developing new opportunities.
Sales and production coordinator is the dynamic Adam Clunyk. Again an important role ensuring that production meets sales requirements and that targets are met.
Product development manager is Bart Price, eldest son of the family and a young man dedicated to the ongoing evolution of Arrow Karts and Kartech components.
Drew Price and his wife Donna are very much at the helm of the DPE / Arrow company their younger son Shane is a successful racing driver in Super V8 and Bart is a full time member of the management staff. A close knit community with some great products… Look out Europe!
Darrell Smith, the Rotax official test driver, is heading up a team using the latest Arrow AX9 in the forthcoming 24hr at Le Mans. The team will have two good English drivers and two Australian including Darrell himself.
The Kart looks to be very well suited to this event, many of the standard features make set up easy and the quality is exceptional, this has to be a bonus when you are expecting the thing to stay together without maintenance for the equivalent of three seasons racing in one go!
I cannot thank the management of DPE enough for their help in putting this article together. In particular my thanks go to Jon Bussell who flew in especially for this interview. Thanks also to Neil Walker at Walker Racing for arranging it all.