Business profile: G3 Engineering Diesel Hydraulics

By: Randall Johnston, Photography by: Randall Johnston

When Motueka-based G3 Engineering Diesel Hydraulics owner Alan Gare wanted to expand his excavator business, he started building his own attachments

There aren’t many options for those looking for locally made excavator buckets and attachments in the Nelson and surrounding areas and even fewer willing to have a crack at making them, with many preferring to import from overseas and slap their company logo on the side.

It’s funny how things come together sometimes, as diesel mechanic Alan Gare would have never thought that breaking a hose on his trusty Takeuchi digger while on a job three years ago would lead him to purchasing a business.

Alan G with his recently acquired Takeuchi TB260

He probably didn’t envisage on that day that the business would grow so quickly and lead to the manufacture of buckets, repairs to excavators, engine upgrades, the building of tipping bins for truck and trailers, hydraulic systems, dry hire of machinery, right through to the building and installation of structural steel.

New owner expands business

The business (then known as Knapp Engineering and owned by local legend Nookie Hannen) was the go-to place for horticulture and general engineering in the Motueka area.

"I walked in for a hydraulic fitting one day. Nookie and I got chatting, one thing led to another, and I eventually ended up buying the business," Alan explains. Naturally, the Takeuchi got fixed too, but that day was a turning point in Alan’s life, as 10 months later, he took the reins starting with a team of eight.

Sadly, Nookie passed away a few months ago, which was a great loss to his friends, family, and the wider community. Alan saw him as both a mentor and a father figure, but he did get the satisfaction of seeing what Alan had done with the business and was pleased with the direction it was headed in.

Welding 3.5T tilt bucket; in the front is a TB175 bucket

Not too long after getting into things, Takeuchi (NZEG) and Kato (HPL) approached Alan in 2019 to be their representative and service agent for the top of the South Island Tasman region. Grabbing the opportunity with both hands, Alan has made some good forward progress, selling more than 20 new and refurbished machines into the area.

When Deals on Wheels visited G3 HQ in Motueka, the now 18-strong crew was just winding up after a busy week. The Christmas rush was in full effect at the top of the South and it seemed as if Alan has had little downtime to reflect on what they have actually achieved.

Buckets and attachments

The turnaround on a set of G3 buckets is just two weeks, and now the plant is all in place to cut the steel, Alan and his crew are pumping out more than 100 units a year, which are being sent out all around New Zealand.

The buckets are made primarily of Swedish Hardox steel, supplied by Real Steel, and have been well received around the country.

"We’re focusing on the smaller buckets at the moment, so 800kg to eight tonnes mostly. A lot of work goes into each build. It’s not just the drawing and then the CNC cutting; it’s also the welding and getting it all aligned accurately, especially tilt buckets."

Tilt bucket brackets and auger hitches

Arrival time on attachments coming from overseas has blown out due to COVID-related shipping delays, and Alan is confident that locally-produced products will be valued even more highly by Kiwi operators into the future.

Full-on engineering work

Turning a general engineering workshop into one that incorporated full-on attachment manufacture wasn’t the easiest thing to pull off. A huge investment in infrastructure and training in the CNC bay was required in order to get the ball rolling, but once it did, it just kept on rolling, Alan says. The team has cut more than 20,000 metres of steel in the year since they acquired the Shanghai-built I-Golden CNC table.

"The engineering is our mainstay and easily 60 to 70% of the work, and the diesel, dry hire, and hydraulics make up the rest. You need to do a bit of everything when you live in a small town. It’s seasonal, so it’s nice to be able to offer a bit of everything just to see you through the quiet times."

Alan has also got two eight-tonne, Hino FE tipper trucks, one of which has a Palfinger 12000 crane on it that gets regular use installing structural steel and hoisting items during removal and installs when doing diesel-engine work.

The excavator connection

"We’re looking to ramp up the hire side with larger machines from Takeuchi and even larger (up to 50 tonnes) with Kato, as we’ve seen the success Kato heavy excavators are having with forestry in the North Island."

The acquisition of a few new Takeuchis, including a brand-new Takeuchi TB216 that rolled of the boat from Japan in October, should help him do so in 2022 and beyond.

Alan also picked up quite a rare, used TB108 in November, which at just 800kg, can be helicoptered into remote sites with no road access, of which there are plenty in the Marlborough Sounds.

4-axle Hardox tip trailer

If you hadn’t guessed, Alan, like any good excavator mechanic worth his salt, has a soft spot for the Japanese-made workhorses, hence the ever-growing hire fleet of Takeuchi machines, also including another TB216, one TB217R, a TB219, a TB325R, a TB260, a TB175, and a TL230 skid steer.

"People like having that peace of mind just knowing that the products we manufacture are locally produced and made of top-quality materials. We support our customers, and we’re physically here in New Zealand to help and that makes a big difference to busy operators," Alan says.

For more information, call 03 528 8776 or visit

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