Cats tick all the right boxes

A self-confessed student from the school of hard knocks, Dale Groves has learned many things from a lifetime in and around trucks and earthmoving machinery.

High on the heap is the knowledge that no matter how good a particular truck or piece of machinery may be, it is made immeasurably better when supported by people fully committed to its success.

“That’s why I can say without any doubt that the decision to buy Cat trucks has been one of the best things I’ve ever done because it has given us the base to build a better business. No question!” he says with absolute certainty.

Dale and wife Jodie are proprietors of Hervey Bay Earthmovers, around 300km north of Brisbane, with seven Cat CT630 models spearheading a diverse operation which in large part mixes earthmoving and civil contracting duties with specialised asphalt haulage.

Bought from the Cat Trucks Hastings Deering dealership at Richlands in Brisbane, the Groves’ first batch of four Cat trucks arrived in 2012 and it’s an adamant Dale who reports: “Other than one relatively minor issue which was quickly fixed under warranty anyway, the trucks have not missed a beat.”

“But as good as the trucks have been,” he quickly adds, “the service through Hastings Deering has been excellent, 100%. Seriously, I can’t fault it at all.

“Either in Brisbane or here at our depot, their service guys are right onto every detail. They just tell me what needs doing and then go ahead and do it.

“Any company is only as good as the people working in it and the way I see it, they’ve shown me they want the trucks to work right just as much as I do.

“In my experience it’s the sort of service you always hope for but rarely get, and that’s why I’m as committed to Cat as they are to me.

“The trucks are doing the right thing, for sure, but you don’t always get the two things together – good trucks and good service. When it happens, it’s definitely worth hanging onto.”

Yet it’s a thoughtful Dale who concedes that the road to a successful family owned business has been long and occasionally bumpy.

As he explains, it all started at just 12 years of age, working with his father in a Gold Coast sand quarry excavated during the heady days of booming development along southern Queensland’s famous beachfront.

Keen to make his own way in life and with a motor mechanic’s trade under his belt, at 19 years of age he moved north to Gympie hoping to make a living with a well-used water truck. “It was a struggle,” Dale reflects with a broad grin.

Seeking more profitable pastures, 1992 saw a move further north to Hervey Bay and, as following years would prove, it was the right move at the right time.

“Back then, Hervey Bay was just a quiet place with about 19,000 people in the whole district,” he recalls.

“Now there’s probably 80,000 people in and around the area, so it was definitely a case of moving here at the right time, just as the town started to grow from tourism and more people were coming here to retire.”

Sensing the opportunity, in 2000 he bought a well-used truck and a second-hand bobcat, soon after establishing Hervey Bay Earthmovers. Growth, he says, was slow but an evolving relationship with Sunstate Group Queensland (SGQ), a local privately owned civil contracting company, was at least providing the prospect of a sound future.

However, it wasn’t until 2010 when SGQ won a road building project between Emerald and Rockhampton that Hervey Bay Earthmovers experienced its first burst of significant growth.

“We really started to grow from then on,” Dale said, proudly adding that along with its earthmoving operations and 15 employees now on the books, Hervey Bay Earthmovers is also SGQ’s main contractor for asphalt and tipper work.

“With that road project, we quickly came to the point where we needed a few trucks in a hurry to pull conveyor floor trailers for spreading asphalt, so we bought a couple of second-hand units. But it didn’t take long to realise that new trucks were a better economic proposition than second-hand,” he said.

Considering his options for new trucks, a random opportunity to look over a Cat CT630 was more than enough to impress not only Dale Groves but also the company’s staunch leading hand, Anthony Hickey.

“It all started from there, with four new Cat CT630B extended cab models promptly joining the operation, dedicated to asphalt work,” Dale said.

And the reason for choosing the extended cab configuration – “A lot of bitumen is laid at night and there can be long periods waiting to unload, so the extended cab gives the driver somewhere comfortable to grab some sleep,” he said.

Since then, three more new Cats have joined the operation – two day cab CT630 tippers hauling quad dog trailers and the pride of the fleet, a CT630LS which was a prime exhibit on the Cat Trucks stand at the 2013 Brisbane Truck Show.

On the reasons for the CT630LS with its highly appointed, spacious sleeper, a smiling Dale Groves said, “I liked the truck the minute I saw it (on the cover of Big Rigs) and my thinking was that I’d be the one driving it, but that just hasn’t happened because I can’t get Anthony out of it”.

“So far, I’ve had just one day in it but we’re looking to replace one of the early second-hand trucks and right now I’d say another LS is probably on the cards. You never know, I might get to drive that one.”

A reflective Dale Groves concludes, “I’ve had other makes and models in the past and, with the growth we’ve had over the past few years, sales reps from several other brands have been knocking on the door. Seriously though, I can’t see any reason to change.

“The people at Hastings Deering have been right on the ball from day one and, like I said, buying the Cats has been one of the best business decisions I’ve made.

“We haven’t looked back and changing to another brand just isn’t on the agenda. It wouldn’t be smart. Not given the run we’ve had, and are still having.”

Source: Page 9, Big Rigs Free Fortnightly, September 26, 2014
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