Business feature: Hidromek invades Waikato

By: Shannon Williams, Photography by: Lisa Potter

The Hidromek brand has been making its way around New Zealand construction circles for a while now, and following strong interest from contractors at New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays®, there are now two of the machines on the ground in the Waikato.

Deane Parkes of Te Awamutu’s Parkes Contracting and Corey Van de Steeg of OnPoint Earthworks are the first contractors in the region to own the brand, after each purchasing a machine from Magnum Equipment.

Deane Parkes

Magnum Equipment founder and director Liam Field says with such positive turnout at Fieldays, he wasn’t surprised to see the machines make a good impression on the industry.

"Both Corey and Deane were at Fieldays and came to our site and saw them, and they said, ‘That’s our next machine’. Next thing, Corey ordered one. I had a demonstrator 145 (HMK145LCSR) available, so I gave it to him to try out for three months.

Corey Van de Steeg

"I lent the demo machine to him because he had some jobs to carry out and he’s just
a nice guy, so I look after him. I’m the owner so it’s a bit different from dealing with a corporate. And he rang me up and said, ‘Mate, I didn’t think I’d ever find true love again, but I have’."

Liam has been involved with the Hidromek brand for three years, after Magnum was appointed the New Zealand distributor for the Turkish-built brand in 2017. The first machines arrived in the country in late October that year.

Since bringing the brand into the New Zealand market, Liam says he’s received a lot of feedback, mostly about the smoothness and power of the brand. "Especially the cab," says Liam. "It’s like a top-market European car.

All the little trinkets, all the little curtains; it’s all so comfortable. Its build quality is totally different to what we are used to. "In the Magnum Equipment rental fleet, we’ve got a bunch of different brands but people don’t want them anymore.

They only want to hire a Hidromek, because they’ve had a Hidromek once and then they want another. They sell themselves; you put someone in a seat and that’s it, it’s sold."
Time for an upgrade

Deane Parkes was looking for an upgrade when the Hidromek caught his eye."We had seen it at Fieldays a couple of years back, had a really good look, and just liked the build quality.

"You look at it and the pumps and the hydraulic motors and the engines are much the same as what everyone else is running, so you know you’re getting the same there. For us, Hidromek was something different, but not a step away from the base componentry we know.

The Hidromek HMK140LC and HMK145LCSR are now operating in the Waikato

"We did our market research, and it ticked a lot of our boxes. A big one for us was that it was different. It’s one of the first two in the Waikato, and I like to have a point of difference.

The Hidromek caught Deane’s eye at Fieldays two years ago

"It looks like it’s going to last us a long time, which is the main thing as well." Deane says he had full confidence in what he saw. "When I saw it at Fieldays, I knew that’ll be our next digger when I can buy a new one. And two years later, here we are."

Comfort is key

Deane says the excavator is comfortable to operate in, especially during long workdays

The Hidromek reminds Deane of a European car. "It’s finished really well; the air conditioning is just next level, so I can’t wait to try that out in the middle of summer. "I’m not an owner/operator; I’m relying on staff. Sometimes we do 14-hour days, sometimes longer. So anything you can do to make it easier on your staff, you’re going get better productivity out of them," he says.

"It’s just a good, sturdy machine. It’s smooth—I don’t like driving jerky machines—and it’s easy to operate. There’s a changeover valve for different patterns to drive with, for different staff."

And the digger will be performing a number of tasks. "It’ll do all sorts from stripping topsoil, loading trailers, cutting out banks for clay, digging ponds, and then onto dairy farms, drain cleaning, site clearing, trees hedges; it’s workload will be varied," says Deane.

"We ordered a standard dipper arm, which is 2.6 metres. You can get a longer version but there are downsides to it. You lose a bit of power and a little bit of speed. For a shorter version, you lose a bit of reach, but by putting on a rotating hitch, we’re gaining nearly 500 millimetres of reach anyway. It’s a good all-round machine."

One man, one machine

Corey Van de Steeg started OnPoint Earthworks in January this year, and as a one-man band, he’s currently working on a subdivision in Te Awamutu. After leaving school, he did a butchery apprenticeship and then got into the agricultural side doing maize harvesting and a bunch of other rural work.

He then worked for Deane Parkes for quite a few years before moving into the civil game. "I worked for a couple of civil companies as a supervisor and then as an operations supervisor before deciding to go out on my own," he says.

"I was pretty excited, so I hired a machine from Liam. He gave me a hire machine for a few months while my one was coming over from Turkey." After seeing the Hidromek machines at Fieldays, and after having a good chat to Liam, Corey decided to go for it.

"Over the years, I reckon I’ve driven every model of excavator there’s on the market, but I really like this Hidromek. It’s got quality componentry, it’s hard-wearing, and I like how it looks. I like the fact that it’s a white machine, so it stands out.

A short tail swing will make it ideal for ag work

It’s got a short tail swing, so it’s ideal for ag stuff on farms because it can spin round and won’t hit the fences," he says."One thing I liked about the brand and dealing with Liam is the fact that he’s got the full range of all the parts up in Auckland, so if you’d rip a door off, he’s got one, or if you break a mirror, they’ve got one. It’s been a good, personal service; I’m not just another number on the books."

Corey can often spend 10 to 12 hours a day in the cab, so comfort is important. "The cab is super simple inside. All the technology is inbuilt so there’s just simple controls. It’s comfortable, like the Mercedes of the excavator world. "And it’s a beautiful machine. I can’t see anything wrong with it. It’s top-end but at the end of the day, you pay for what you get."

Tech improvements

Global Survey supplied the Leica GPS system

Corey opted for the latest Leica GPS system on his new Hidromek, which was supplied and installed by Global Survey. The Leica iCON MC1 system is designed to boost productivity and manage projects digitally with 3D design models.

Detailed graphics on the in-cab control panel provide model views with cut, fill, reach, and slope measurements of the real-time machine position, relative to the design. With a cable-free control panel, the Leica system can be easily moved between machine types, saving on transportation costs if operators have more than one machine across multiple sites.

Wide glass panels allow for safer operating

Leica ConX, a cloud-based platform, provides comprehensive remote support including upload and download of design model data. "It pretty much gives you a full model, so for example, if you’re working on a subdivision, it can give you a whole view of the site—a full scope of what you are doing," says Corey.

"It’ll tell you how much you need to go down on exactly where you are. The GPS shows you an aerial view as well, and it’ll show you where your digger is on the subdivision, thus saving the costs of basically another full-time staff member."

Share Data Seamlessly: Leica iCON Integrated Solutions for Construction

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