Airplex founder, Robert Judd,  had a determination to start a business of his own. The qualified engineering tradesman began as a sole trader under the name Pneumatic Engineering designing and building automated equipment for various customers.

(Shown Right [left to right]: Conveyor with glue applicator for milk powder bags, Control cabinet system for the automatic weighing and filling of drums, radio control for fork hoist automatic door in freezers.)

The early 1980s saw a stock market frenzy. Changes in consumer demands saw the need for a shift to design and build specialised acrylic machinery. Growth in the demand also saw the need to form a limited liability company, and so AIRPLEX was born. Airplex’s name comes from the two parts of the original firm. Air, referring to the pneumatic engineering and plex referring to the plexiglass or as we know it, Perspex. 

After securing the rights to produce a specific design of weather shields in New Zealand, Airplex went on to design and manufacture bonnet guards and headlight covers as well.  All machinery, ovens and equipment were designed and built in house.

(Shown Right: First weather shield moulding machine)

During the mid to late 1980s, Robert began regularly attending international car parts and accessories trade shows in USA, Germany and Taiwan to investigate export markets. In addition to visiting these trade shows, he also began exhibiting and distributing in the UK, France, Argentina, And South America. 

(Shown Right: Taipei, Taiwan Auto Parts Show 1995 displaying Airplex products on our distributors stand, Pro Glory Enterprises)

The late 1980s saw the demand for Airplex’s acrylic goods continue to grow. So much so that the pneumatic engineering side of the business had to stop. Airplex’s international reach had seen increasing demand in the USA and Canada. After a brief time manufacturing in the USA for the North American market, Airplex continued solely manufacturing in NZ exporting to Taiwan, and many companies throughout the middle east.

1995 saw Jonathan Judd, Roberts eldest son join the firm. His experience with technology and engineering background saw the company adapting processes to help push the company through into the 21st century. Advancing production techniques helped increase Airplex’s ability to produce goods. At this time Airplex was exporting to 35+ countries with more than 80% of production being exported. 

 

  

Airplex’s heavy truck accessories began in the late 1990s.   Airplex had good business with a Hong Kong-based customer distributing our product for Iveco.  A reciprocal deal was struck and Airplex began importing heavy truck roof-mounted Air deflectors. This business was steady for Airplex and continued well into the 2000s.

(Shown Right: Robert travelled to Hong Kong to meet with suppliers and distributors in 1995)

In 2005 Simon Judd, Roberts second son joined Airplex.  As production requirements increased steadily Airplex needed to expand its ability to produce goods efficiently while maintaining the high quality expected. Simon commissioned Airplex’s first CNC machine. At the time it was the largest of its kind in NZ (7m x 2m). This is still in use in the manufacture of our bonnet guards, weather shields, headlight covers and other acrylic products.

(Shown Right: The first CNC machine being delivered to 132 Portage Road, Otahuhu, Auckland)

2008 brought on the GFC and worldwide disruption. Many Airplex export customers had no business themselves, so Airplex had to diversify. After largely exporting for many years, Airplex had to use its global connections and look at adding imported items to their range and decided to supply the local market with a range of quality imported products. Earlier visits to trade shows around the world gave insight to products that were respected throughout the automotive industry for their build quality. Airplex began with the SteelTop Canopy. This quickly grew into a large array of Ute and car accessories. 

(Shown Right [left to right] One of the vehicles sent to the Antarctic for the filming of a special top gear episode. SteelTop canopy manufacture in full swing.)

In 2009 Airplex discontinued the importation of truck roof mount air deflectors and focused on local manufacture.  To achieve the rapid expansion required, Airplex acquired an existing NZ roof kit manufacturer.  Airplex is now the market leader in NZ for quality heavy truck accessories including air deflectors, sun visors and stone guards.  Which are still all proudly manufactured in New Zealand.  

Airplex continues to grow all divisions from its facility in Saleyards Road, Otahuhu, Auckland.
Still, 100% NZ owned and operated, Airplex continues to manufacture in NZ and also engages several local companies for component manufacture.  We continue to support NZ manufacturing and complement this with an ever-expanding range of imported quality accessories.
February 2022 marks our 40th anniversary.   

 

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