In the News: Comfort, Feel, And Smoothness Win The Day
This was the case at civil contracting and transport company Schick Construction just after Christmas, when the firm took possession of the latest four of around 11 Hitachi excavators it has purchased from CablePrice over the last three years, says Waikato regional manager and owner, Mark Dawbin.
“One of our guys loved the feel and setup of his old Hitachi with all its extras so much that he was hesitant to step into a new machine. But within two days on the new Hitachi, he didn’t want to go back to the old one. That’s the sort of feedback we like to hear from our guys when we’re making big investments in new gear.” Hitachi makes up a significant proportion of Schick’s fleet, which now includes more than 90 items of heavy plant and machinery.
“Our guys enjoy the comfort, feel, and smoothness of the Hitachi machines and the way they operate. We have other brands in the fleet but I’d say around 90 percent of our digger fleet is Hitachi.” The 10 Hitachi workhorses added to the fleet over the last three years range from 5 to 28 tonne excavators, with the latest acquisitions being two ZX120-3 12 tonne and two ZX200LC-5 20 tonne machines. All have been fitted with an auto-grease system to not only extend their life but save time that our operators would otherwise spend greasing them themselves.
“A number of the excavators have also been fitted with a Leica machine controlled GPS system, which increases the speed and accuracy of detail excavations,” says Mark. With this technology, Schick can input the design models and shapes directly into each machine, allowing the operator to dig to grade without having to avoid pegs, or get in and out of the machine to measure depths and heights with a string-line.
“This has led to greater efficiency and productivity and avoids overdig and remedials,” says Mark. The new Hitachi excavators are being used across Schick’s fast growing operation, which in Hamilton is spread across seven divisions - civil structures, roading, earthworks, drainage, siteworks, subdivisions and transport.
Schick operates similar setups in Christchurch and Auckland. “We’re using the machines across the board, from building sites and foundations, to large excavations for drainage, earthworks and roading works. Our guys love them, and our clients like to see us putting quality gear out there, so it works all around.” The company has branched into the Christchurch and Auckland markets within the last four years, and employs more than 150 staff across its operations during peak times.
“We pride ourselves on having a skilled crew and low staff turnover, which is a result of our strong company culture, and investing continuously in our team and new gear.” Mark says the new machines are helping Schick to meet the demands of its growing market share in each region.
“The acquisition has been part of our planned growth. However some of our older machines in Hamilton have also been replaced by the new Hitachis under our upgrade programme.” The origins of Schick Construction go back to 1973, when it was founded by Lindsay Schick and operated as a small cartage and rural digger business.
In 2003, Mark’s fellow director Patrick Peoples bought the company, and has instigated a programme of sustained growth in the wider civil construction industry. “The company used to be all about diggers and trucks, but over the last 10 to 15 years we have got into a bit of everything.”
Although still earthwork and cartage specialists, Schick’s wide range of services and capabilities also includes local body and highway infrastructure works, subdivisions, retaining walls, minor bridge construction and repairs, foundations, multiple drainage and pavement (grader) crews, and a concrete crew. “Roading has become a significant part of our portfolio. We have recently picked up another two NZTA contracts for the south side of Hamilton,” says Mark.
In Christchurch and Auckland the company’s focus is mainly on civil and not transport work, says Mark. “These operations aren’t as diverse yet, but are growing rapidly too. We targeted Christchurch because of the ongoing rebuild works, and opened our Auckland branch 18 months ago as that’s where the growth of the country is happening.”
Although the relationship with CablePrice’s sales team was only established three years ago, Schick Construction has dealt with its service division for around six years. “We are very happy with the service we receive from CablePrice’s mechanical team, which has led to us dealing with sales rep David Neilson. He has worked hard to understand what we were looking for and to juggle things around for us. Now we’ve sorted out the initital specs for our machines, it’s very easy for us to ring David up and tell him what we need.” Mark says being “kept in the loop” when it comes to timing and delivery has also been appreciated by the Schick management team.
“We believe Hitachi has got to the top of the game and are happy to be sourcing the product from CablePrice. They are price competitive, put together a good package, and back everything up with great service and workshop support, which is a winning combination.”