Business feature: Busch Earthworks

By: The Editor, Photography by: Supplied

With the first Hidromek excavator now operating in the South Island, Deals on Wheels spoke to Nelson-based James Busch about his latest purchase

James Busch has taken delivery of a Hidromek HMK230LC-H4

It can be up to an hour to get from Nelson to Motueka but that’s the drive James Busch has resigned himself to for the next five years as his business gets stuck into subdivision work lined up for them and the new Hidromek HMK230LC-H4.

Busy at work on an eco-village in Motueka

West Coast-born and Nelson-bred, James comes from a family with earthmoving lineage, although he’s the first in the family to own his equipment. "My big brother Kevin is also in the game and worked in Western Australia on the really big gear," says James. "He’s now working for Perth Earth on smaller machines and might be even fussier than me."

With 25 years of experience moving dirt and five of those years working in Australia, there isn’t much that James hasn’t seen and has operated excavators of all shapes and configurations from baby 3.5 tonners all the way through the size range.

"I’d like to think my work experience has given me the skills to tackle pretty much anything put before me, which includes being a ticketed drainlayer and knowing my machinery," he says. "I’m lucky to have been taught by some old school contractors who were willing to pass on their knowledge and skill base."

His current worksite is an eco-village, and it’s here that James says he’s given a lot of creative license to help develop the project. "It’s refreshing to work alongside a great client and engineer in a process that fosters collaboration and which allows the whole project to progress efficiently," says James.

First in the South 001-SI

The first Hidromek excavator in the South Island is nicknamed 001-SI

While Hidromeks have firmly established themselves in the upper and central North Island since its New Zealand introduction in 2017, James is the first purchaser from the South Island with his aptly nicknamed 001-SI machine.

"It certainly turned some heads when the transporter drove through town with a shiny white and black excavator on the back; its point of difference was one of the factors
I took into consideration when purchasing," says James.

He goes on to tell that he had been following the progress of Hidromek for a while and did his research online before flying to Magnum Equipment headquarters in Auckland to try one out in the flesh.

"I had been through a couple of other brands previously, and to be honest, I really wanted to not like Hidromek but after trying one out had to admit that it was the type of machine I was looking for. Also, I felt comfortable dealing with the team from Magnum Equipment and this helped me make the decision to go with them," he says.

Hidromek in Tasman

As Magnum Equipment opens up new regions, it appoints local service agents

Being the first machine in the South Island, James had to take into consideration servicing of the machine and recommended a highly regarded local service agent to Magnum Equipment.

"I thought it best to recommend a company I felt comfortable with working on my machinery and Magnum Equipment supported that," says James. "The service agent has already looked over the machine and said they can’t wait to work on the machine, as there’s so much room to carry out maintenance."

Magnum Equipment says the appointment of well-respected local service agents will directly follow on when machinery is sold into new regions. "As we open up new sales areas, it makes sense that we select service agents who local Hidromek owners know and respect, so who better to tells us the right people to use than the machine owners themselves," says Magnum Equipment founder and director Liam Field.

Getting down to work

Topcon technology supplied by Synergy Positioning

Being only a couple of weeks since the arrival of the new excavator, James is still getting a feel for his 23-tonne HMK230LC-H4, and so far, it’s been a positive experience. "Every day I’m more and more impressed. When you go over these machines, more things become evident, such as the steel header tanks, grunty track frames, and reinforcing all over the place," says James.

"I’ve been surprised by the power of the machine and its stability. I’ve already had it on some funky angles. If I was in the same situation with a previous brand I had, it felt like the machine would sit on its backside."

A Robur Attachments Heli-Head coupler has been fitted

Additional tools fitted to the excavator and co-ordinated by Magnum Equipment are the Robur Attachments-supplied Heli-Head tilt coupler and Synergy Positioning-supplied Topcon X-53x system paired with a Hyper VR rover and base station. James says it’s good to do a day’s work in the Hidromek and get out feeling a sense of accomplishment and less fatigued.

Have you operated a Hidromek?

While his experience is a positive one, with the first machine of its brand in the region, James hasn’t been immune to the doomsayers. "Some guys have said to me why I didn’t go with this brand or another one and knock my decision but then I ask them; have you operated a Hidromek excavator? They all answer no.

"Others will ask me how does it compare to a Volvo, Hitachi, or Cat? My answer to them is that it operates like a Hidromek. While all excavators work on the same principle, each brand has a feel of its own and this is the case for Hidromek," says James.

"For me, I tried it, I liked it, and bought it. So much so that I’ve got a close eye on a 14-tonner next," he says. "Having what I know will be a good machine for me helps me strive for perfection while being comfortable with attaining excellence, and I can sleep easy knowing that I’m providing the best solution for my clients."

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