Porter Press Extra: Taranaki compost makers

The Hyundai R140LC-9 crawler excavator processing green waste is typical of Revital’s machine fleet

While New Plymouth-based Revital might have evolved into shorthand for ‘compost’ during its 20-plus years in business, a detailed run-down of all the many products this innovative company produces will have your head spinning.

More than composting (for which they are perhaps best known on the consumer market, thanks to their Growwell organic product brand), Revital also works within the recycling, landscaping, horticultural, farming, fertiliser supply, and quarrying sectors.

The 14-tonner works well in muddy conditions
The 14-tonner works well in muddy conditions

The company’s footprint also extends beyond Taranaki to the Bay of Plenty and the Waikato, where it operates a sand quarry near Cambridge supplying specialist aggregates and sand products to the likes of golf courses and sports grounds. It also has a presence in Auckland where it operates Central Landscape Supplies, which is New Zealand’s largest franchised landscape supply yard network.

"Composting and worm farming is where the company started and that remains central to our activities," says Revital managing director, Kerry O’Neill.

"Every year, we supply more than 50,000 tonnes of compost and vermicast to the agri sector, and we divert more than 100,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill to be recycled into rich compost."

While Kerry counts 50 full-time staff on the roster, you could say Revital has a team of 15 million workers. That’s the estimated number of worms working in four locations across the North Island 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing castings for Revital’s compost products. The castings—or vermicast as it’s known—is a natural soil enhancer and helps to stimulate plant and crop growth.

But the Revital story doesn’t end with compost and aggregates. Turns out, Kerry and his team are dab hands at assembling structures on top of soil too.

"Within the Revital Group, we also own a company called Showscape, which provides all set-up and pack-down services to the likes of National Agricultural Fieldays® at Mystery Creek and Central Fieldays," he explains.

"This year has been a bit different, for obvious reasons, but generally speaking, we’re involved in setting up the basic infrastructure for these large-scale events, from managing the laying of the ground cover to setting up fencing and general site works.

Kerry O’Neill (left) 
with machine operator Peter Remi
Kerry O’Neill (left) with machine operator Peter Remi

"It’s pretty intensive work. The National Agricultural Fieldays event in mid-June, for example, will see us working to establish the site from the beginning of May. We’ll then spend until the end of July pulling everything out again."

Porter connection

With such a varied supplier role to fill for a variety of customers, Revital in turn looks to consistency and quality when it comes to the relationships it establishes with its own suppliers. A case in point is the lengthy partnership Revital has shared with Porter Equipment.

"The relationship we have with Porter Equipment essentially stretches back as far as we’ve owned the company," continues Kerry.

"As we have grown over the years, we’ve needed new equipment and Porters has always been there for us. The back-up support they offer is excellent; they are always able to help us out. The machinery they represent in the New Zealand market is very good and the Hyundai brand in particular offers a lot of value for money.

"Also, if we ever need supplementary machines in a hurry, we can pull from their extensive hire fleet. That ability to help us plug any gap in our fleet is something that we value very highly, as is their aftersales service programme. They just make everything a lot easier."

Kerry says that Revital utilises 15 machines supplied by Porter Equipment across the combined group of businesses. The fleet includes both owned and leased plant and counts among it a mix of crawler excavators, wheel loaders, and a materials screen.

Kerry looks to Porter Equipment to service his gear too, underlining the aftersales support he and other customers can rely upon. As a rule, Kerry always buys new and looks to put around 8000 hours on machines (or hold onto them for around four years, whichever comes first), as he believes that provides for an attractive proposition on the second-hand market.

"They’ve still got plenty of life left in them at that point, and they’re not too ancient either, so will generally still feature technology onboard that people appreciate on the job," he says.

Packs a punch

The Hyundai R140LC-9 crawler excavator processing green waste at the company’s managed site at the EnviroWaste Colson Road Refuse Transfer Station in New Plymouth is typical of Revital’s machine fleet.

Machine operator Peter Remi says he’s very happy with the 14-tonne excavator, which he uses to feed a heavy-duty mulcher.

"The Hyundai digger is really good: very comfortable to be in and has plenty of power,"
he says.

Despite sitting at the lower end of the Hyundai crawler excavator range in terms of its dimensions, the Hyundai R140LC-9 still packs a punch suited to the task at hand, delivering 119hp (89kW) from its reliable four-cylinder diesel engine, matched with plenty of digging force and quick swing cycle times, thanks to a robust hydraulics system.

Kerry explains that the Hyundai R140LC-9 is as big as a machine on this particular site needs to be.

The Hyundai R140LC-9 crawler excavator processes green waste
The Hyundai R140LC-9 crawler excavator processes green waste

"It might look like a large, expansive work site here, but organising product can be a complex business, so while there is plenty of material to process every day, a much larger machine won’t necessarily do a much faster job.

"We’re also facing pretty muddy conditions here coming out of winter, so the 14-tonner works well because it doesn’t impact on the soaked ground as much as a larger machine might."

With many machines working in different conditions in a variety of locations and producing products for all manner of customers, Kerry and the Revital team can rely on one distinct through-line: the Porter Equipment sales and support network.

Well okay, Porter Equipment and worms. Lots and lots of worms.

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