On site with Yakka Demolition

By: Lyndsay Whittle

On site with Yakka Demolition On site with Yakka Demolition
On site with Yakka Demolition On site with Yakka Demolition
On site with Yakka Demolition On site with Yakka Demolition
On site with Yakka Demolition On site with Yakka Demolition

Business is booming for West Auckland demolition company Yakka.

Also check out this video of Yakka Demolition's Hitachi equipment at work.

When Deals on Wheels first caught up with Bruce Levien, owner of Yakka Demolition, back in 2014, his company had only been operating for 18 months and was operating just a handful of trucks and machinery.

Fast-forward to April 2016 and one finds that the company has expanded at an unbelievable rate, to a point where Yakka’s current yard at Rabone Street in Henderson, West Auckland, is literally bursting at the seams.

The company has recently purchased a property in Riverhead, much larger than its current Henderson holding and Levien reckons he could really do with even more land, although he concedes that he has to be practical about the matter.

It appears that being in the demolition game does have its advantages, as two-thirds of a building currently under demolition at Wynyard Quarter on Auckland’s waterfront is to gain a new lease on life when it takes up residence at the new Riverhead property where it will form part of Yakka Demolition’s office administration building and workshop.

In the time since DOW’s first onsite visit to Yakka at the address of the old New Lynn Ford building’s demolition (now the site of a Bunnings hardware store), the company has been busy demolishing much of the cityscape.

Many of the buildings currently coming down are iconic and most of the deconstruction is taking place in order to make way for new apartment buildings to satisfy the country’s veracious appetite for housing.

The latest iconic premises to fall prey to Yakka Demolition’s cracker jaws and pulverisers is the Real Groovy Records building on Auckland’s Queen Street.

The portion of the building that was being worked on the day of the DOW visit had been around since the late 1800s and would surely have had a few tales to tell of Auckland’s history, had it have been able to talk.

Levien says that the demolition site puts up some real challenges for his team, as placement of machines has to be made through extremely narrow streets that were essentially built for horse and cart traffic.

Simply gaining permission to enter the site from a magazine contributor’s point of view to take a few photos was an effort in itself, so one can only imagine the time and effort involved in getting trucks and machinery past several levels of health and safety requirements.

Yakka _Demo4

However, it does appear that Yakka has just the right machine for the job – a recently purchased 50-tonne Hitachi 500 with a 26-metre high-reach boom.

The machine is fitted with a quick-hitch system, and by pushing a couple of buttons in the cab, the operator can attach either the high-reach or a standard boom, along with a variety of operating heads, in a matter of minutes.

The Hitachi brand features high on the list of Yakka Demolition’s machinery inventory, with Levien also citing there being a 40-tonne, along with two 22.50tonne ZAXIS zero-tail swing machines and one 20-tonne excavator.

He reckons he could currently do with at least another two or three Hitachi units in his fleet, but says that, as in the case of being able to do with more land, he realises that there has to be a limit as to what one company can achieve at any one point in time.

Levien says that he has developed a preference for purchasing second-hand machines because of the harsh environment in which they work in the demolition industry.

He told DOW about how a couple of machines he bought as new units only took a few weeks to become scratched and that it seemed a shame to see them deteriorate from a visual perspective in a relatively short space of time.

He went on to say that his company employs two full-time mechanics, but no matter how well you look after a demolition machine mechanically with a regular service regime, you can’t avoid a certain amount of panel damage in the demolition industry.

Yakka Demolition currently has approximately 30 jobs underway in the Auckland area alone, all of which are at varying states of deconstruction.

However, not all of the buildings will be completely demolished, as there are several current jobs on the Yakka Demolition books that merely require an interior strip-out in order for refurbishment to take place.

DOW was given a mini tour of a half -dozen sites Yakka is currently working on by the boss himself, accompanied by the company’s operations manager, Andy O’Donnell.

The trip around some of the narrowest streets in Auckland’s CBD highlighted the difficulties construction and deconstruction companies face in gaining access for large pieces of equipment.

With there being no sign of building activity slowing down in the city, and Yakka Demolition getting a decent portion of the action, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a few more zero-tail swing Hitachi ZAXIS machines on more Auckland demolition sites.

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