Business feature: Pilehire

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle


The sheer scale of the inventory at Pilehire’s branch at Wiri in South Auckland has to be seen to be appreciated

Pilehire supplies piling and drilling equipment to all the major players in the construction industry and as such has supplied equipment for the Christchurch rebuild, the massive earthwork carried out at Kaikoura, the Waterview tunnel, and the rebuilding of the Newmarket flyover to name just a few.

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Pilehire has a large range of range of equipment for hire or sale

Their augers range in size from 100mm in diameter, which are operated by excavators, right up to the massive 3.6-metre diameter crane-hung variants.

Although, 39-year-old company owner Ken Parfoot says that as a general rule of thumb, 600 and 900mm augers are the sizes that tend to go out the door most often.

Expanding business

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Pilehire operates out of two Auckland-based branches in Dairy Flat and Wiri

Along with several years under his belt in heavy fabrication within the civil construction game, Ken formed his own engineering business, Parfoot Engineering Ltd in 2008. In 2011, he introduced equipment hire alongside the engineering work.

However, Ken says that he never really got serious about equipment hire until 2013 when he sold the engineering business so he could focus on piling and drilling equipment.

Ken says that at first, he really only started out making the odd piece of equipment to suit customer’s requirements, and today, Pilehire operates out of two branches—a 4000 square metre unit at 15 Mana Place Wiri and a slightly smaller 3000 square metre address at 17 Kahikatea Flat Road Dairy Flat, north of Auckland.

On a walkaround the Wiri site, office manager Julie Wells pointed out an area of around 420 square metres that was in the process of being cleared out to make way for some much-needed space to house extra inventory.

Julie explained that the area being cleared was previously used as the engineering workshop but had become too small to keep up with current production requirements.

Ken also took me on a drive to the property about a kilometre away, which was being set up as the new engineering workshop.

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Equipment can be made to customer’s specifications

The new 1600 square metre engineering workshop will provide approximately three times the working space compared to the previous workshop and will be staffed by nine fabricator welders who will be kept busy keeping up with an ever-increasing demand for new drilling and pile driving equipment, which will either wind up being placed into the hire stock or will be sold to clients.

Ken explains that on top of the constant need to manufacture new gear, the arduous nature of the piling and drilling industry meant that there was also a continual need to repair and replace damaged or worn parts.

He adds that his engineering team members were actually enjoying the break from the day-to-day routine of making piling and drilling gear and putting their skills to good use by manufacturing the steel racking that is needed to store the heavy steel that goes into the manufacture of the company’s products.

While one might imagine that drilling companies would prefer to own their piling equipment, Ken says that most operators are happy to have his company take care of the storage and the upkeep of this heavy-duty gear.

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Augers range in size from 100mm to 3.6m

When you’re standing up close to a 3.6-metre diameter auger or a large drilling bucket, it’s easy to see why contractors are happy to leave the expense of storing such large pieces of kit to somebody else.

Even if you take the considerable expense of storage out of the equation, it makes sense for the drilling gear to be returned to a facility that is specifically set up to deal with crack testing, servicing and maintenance of the equipment, and any other remedial work that needs to be carried out.

Equipment for hire

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Ken Parfoot established Pilehire in 2013 after many years in heavy fabrication

Aside from having augers of all sizes in stock, Pilehire has an extensive range of  mud buckets, core barrels, rock drilling, and pile-driving equipment, which is available for hire or sale.

In fact, if a hole needs to be placed in the ground, they have a piece of equipment that’s specifically designed to get the job done, regardless of whether the substrate is rocky, muddy, or just plain wet.

If they don’t have it in stock, Ken says they can make one (or several) in pretty short order, as they carry an inventory of most components in stock. They also hire associated equipment such as excavator attachments, vibros, concrete gear, hydraulic equipment, welders… the list goes on.

Not only do they have more engineering gear than you can shake a stick at but they also have a well-used coffee machine if you’re looking for a caffeine fix while you’re visiting, and the biggest smiles you’re ever likely to come across anywhere. Check them out at pilehire.co.nz or simply Google Pilehire and you’re in!

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