Modern Transport Engineers Ltd was founded in 1973 by Robin Ratcliffe at the age of 24. Colleen, Robin’s wife of fifty three years joined the firm in 1974 as a secretary. They have two sons Michael and Zane and several grandchildren. Robin served his Fitting and Turning apprenticeship with Ajax Engineers and later gained transport engineering experience with Transport and General Engineering of Hamilton. Michael served his apprenticeship as a Fitter and Turner with Tanner Engineering Ltd of Auckland and Zane served his apprenticeship with Nivens of Hamilton.
Robin and Zane's interests are physics and mathematics giving them an extremely good base to design from. In the early years MTE found it hard to win trailer orders. With the help of George Scott of Waikato Heavy Haulage they produced the first 30tonne (payload) transporter in 1975 for $8000.00. Later in 1985 MTE traded the first transporter back from George for $30,000.00. In 1980 MTE produced the modern version of the 3 Axle Tilt Deck a design that had eluded everyone for years, and also in that same year produced their second Rows of Eight Transporter. These have since grown into the comprehensive series of Widening Transporters. In 1982 they designed the Wing Suspension House Trailer and a new modern group started coming into their own. In 1979 MTE produced the first Dog Type Flat Top Low Loader a range that has grown into very large demand. In 1998 MTE produced the first Platform Transporter.
These Platform trailers range in cost between $120,000.00 and $3,000,000.00, the most expensive in the series, with tare weights of 12,000kg to 250,000kg. Both management and staff at MTE have always been prepared to serve the customer, even if it means long hours. Michael52, and Zane 50,joined MTE in the late 80’s. Zane is currently design engineer and MTE Manager, and Michael is Manager and Sales Director of MTE Australia. MTE has become the largest supplier of specialised transport trailers in Australasia. MTE produces transporters that can carry from 6 tonne to the very latest module that carrying up to 1000 tonne, as well as Tank Transporters, Boat Transporters, House Removal Trailers, Bitumen Tankers, Side Show Rides, Tipping Trailers and a range of General Freight Trailers (custom built). MTE employs around 150 staff in their Forman Rd premises which encompass some 12 acres. Trailers under the MTE label are exported into Australia, USA, China and the Pacific Islands. MTE has 8 production teams building house trailers, 20-30 tonne semi transporters, 10-20 tonne dog and pig transporters, bitumen tankers, and 60 tonne plus payload platforms and transporters. Production of trailers is currently set at approximately one trailer every day. In 1994 ETL (Equipment and Transport Leasing Ltd) was born and today has grown its operation to some 600 machines including 150 truck and trailer units. In 2007 the MTE group purchased property in Brisbane Australia and began the Australian operation the same year the group purchased a property in Frankton to expand its production of trailers. In 2018 the Modern Group purchased Roadmaster Trailer in Rotorua and Auckland adding a further 150 staff to it production unit. The same year the Group was awarded the Distribution of Sinotruk a major truck manufacturer from China.
The largest ever New Zealand produced trailer, some 45 metres Long, was produced in 2011 in the Hamilton factory. The transporter was produced for Multi Trans, the trailer has a total of 304 215 x 17.5 tyres in its combination, and can have further 16 tyres added to it. All axles in the platform trailer steer to a maximum of 45 degrees. This is done in three ways; automatically off the draw bar, and manually using the hydraulic power pack. The trailer has a tare weight of 140 tonne. This increases by 4 tonne for each axle line (8 tyres) added, and has a load capacity of 30 tonne per axle line. Steel used in the complete trailer is 800MPA High Tensile Quenched and Tempered, axles were specially manufactured by MTE. To reduce tare weight and minimise heat generated in the brakes and tyres aluminium wheels can be used. For rapid suspension speed and ride ability the suspension cylinders can have nitro gengas accumulators built into them. The stability can also be changed from one with a gooseneck to one with a drawbar. The stability can also be altered by a variety of suspension combinations coupled to the gooseneck or transversely connected in the drawbar configuration