Always moving forward

By: Ron Horner

Presented by
  • Plant & Equipment

Tilly’s Crawler Parts of Toowoomba is celebrating 35 years, living by the statement “right part, right price, right now”, writes Ron Horner

Shop Tilly's Crawler Parts

Sometimes, in our business, you are forced to look outside the box for service, spare parts and cost savings to keep your fleet of gear going and your business afloat.

When the prices and service from your dealer or distributor are failing you, it is always good to know that there are very cost-effective alternatives out there that do not detract from quality.

One of Australia’s leading used machinery dealers and spare parts suppliers is Tilly’s Crawler Parts of Toowoomba, which this year is celebrating 35 years of continual service to the agricultural, quarrying and earthmoving industries.

Tilly's 35th anniversary
Tilly’s Crawler Parts is now a household name

With over 45,000 new and used spare part lines in stock and used equipment for sale, it is no wonder that Tilly’s is a preferred supplier for anyone working in these areas.

Speaking with Andrew Tilly, managing director of Tilly’s, we find out about the history of the Tilly name and the legendary status being shared with the likes of the famous Thiess Brothers and the Wagners of Wellcamp, all of whom were Toowoomba-based and rose to the pinnacle of the industry.

Tilly's 35th anniversary
Spare parts now form 75 per cent of Tilly’s sales


The history of Tilly’s goes way back to 1924 when Richard Tilly, a contractor in South Australia, started agricultural work with the first Holt T35 two-ton dozer to come into the country. Holt merged with Best Tractors and became Caterpillar in 1925.

Not fearful of chasing contracts, Richard packed up and moved to the then-thriving area of Geelong in southern Victoria, where he was engaged in subdivision work through the fifties until the decision was made to relocate to Condamine, west of Toowoomba, in 1965.

With massive land clearing operations underway out there at the time and with plenty of bulldozers and earthmoving gear in action, it didn’t take long for Hugh Tilly, Richard’s son, to see the potential for rebuilding, reconditioning and selling anything associated with earthmoving.

The Tilly’s of Condamine commenced operations as a machinery rebuilding enterprise where over 100 bulldozers were bought, rebuilt and sold to local contractors during those heady pioneering days.

Fast forward to 2019 and Tilly’s Crawler Parts is now a household name in the machinery and earthmoving industry, best known for its ability to source high-quality new and used parts for equipment dating back as far as 1930. However, it was Andrew Tilly, Richard’s grandson, who took the business to a new level.

Tilly's 35th anniversary
Andrew Tilly has been running Tilly’s since 1984


A young Andrew was shipped off to boarding school, later completing an accountancy degree and diesel fitter apprenticeship. However, in 1984, at the ripe old age of 22, he visited Kronk’s Earthmoving Auction in Toowoomba, and the new era of Tilly’s was born.

Andrew developed a plan to procure everything possible from the auction, including the customer listings, all of whom were familiar with the Tilly’s name.

Andrew’s plan was successful and he has run the business since, developing a reputation as one of Australia’s most trusted suppliers for quality new and used parts and machinery.

Tilly's 35th anniversary
There are eight hectares of dismantled machinery at the site

The spare parts business assists Tilly’s valued customers through drought, floods and economic crises. When it was originally set up in the eighties, new spare parts comprised five per cent of business turnover, but now leads with 75 per cent of turnover, due to the ability to procure quality new parts at more competitive rates.

After WWII, with the Americans leaving over 4,000 pieces of Caterpillar equipment in Italy, an opportunity arose for entrepreneurial types to commence replication of Caterpillar spare parts, with Italy then dominating this market for many years.

Tilly’s has captured the market here with a massive Australian customer base. The Toowoomba-based business not only satisfies the requirements for contractors and farmers across Australia but has a global reach in selling machinery and parts all over the world.

Tilly's 35th anniversary
Tilly’s has been successful in importing non-genuine parts


The experienced team at Tilly’s are constantly sourcing quality used machinery, from dozers to excavators, providing their customers with genuine alternatives to purchasing new machines.

The Tilly’s onsite workshop ensures customers are back on track in the quickest possible time, enabled by the extensive stock of both new and used, genuine and non-genuine parts.

Tilly’s mantra of ‘Right Part, Right Price, Right Now’ still rings true. Nearly 70 staff, eight hectares of dismantled machinery and a full onsite workshop and service centre means that Tilly’s knows what its customers need and can ensure minimum downtime. A commitment to continual improvement and growth has enabled Tilly’s to stand the test of time.

Andrew took me on a guided tour of his centrally located, 20-acre premises in Toowoomba, which includes the newly installed, fully automated stock storage and retrieval system. This innovative addition to the Tilly’s warehouse guarantees a higher level of efficiency and productivity, ensuring that customer’s orders for parts arrive as quickly as possible.

Tilly’s also has a full workshop on site


Tilly’s not only supplies new and used parts and machines, but also offers a full workshop onsite at the Toowoomba premises. Its fully qualified and trained mechanics can perform complete undercarriage replacements and engine rebuilds, right through to final drive and transmissions.

Tilly’s extensive premises can handle your full machine (or transmission) if you prefer to send it to the yard and workshop where the item can be inspected, priced up for repairs, repaired and returned to you.

Tilly’s specialises in Cat and Komatsu rebuilds, but also perform repairs on almost any machine. All components are rebuilt to manufacturer’s latest specifications and the customer’s requirements and budget, including dynamometer testing using a mobile dyno, which is capable of 2,500 lb ft (3,390Nm) torque up to a rev range of 3,600rpm. Printed reports are also provided for the customer’s information.

Transmissions can be built onsite, from second-hand units right through to zero hour tested units, and they can build final drives and have exchange cores readily available for quick turnaround.

Tilly's 35th anniversary
Services include a complete track service


Tilly’s offers a complete track service on demand, with quick turn-around and the capacity to service dozer undercarriage through to D11/D475 as well as excavators up to 100 tonne.

A modern track press, including a WTC 360 tonne and hydraulic torque wrench allows for any modifications required, whether it’s shortening, lengthening or just a plate swap on standard or salt chains.

Tilly’s promise to its customers is that it will find the right part or machine, at the right price, right now. It’s what Andrew Tilly and the Tilly’s team have stood by for 35 years, and will continue to stand by for many more.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the TradePlant e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

Follow our updates by liking us on Facebook