Business feature: Central Machine Hire

Wanaka-based company Central Machine Hire Limited purchases the hire side of PL Clarke Ltd

Paul Clarke (left) and Allan Dippie with a newly commissioned Komatsu D37 PX that’s ready to go out to work

Changes are afoot in the heavy equipment hire industry in the South Island with Wanaka-based company Central Machine Hire Limited (CMH) purchasing the hire side of
PL Clarke Ltd, effective 1 April 2022.

Owner Paul Clarke will continue to operate PL Clarke Ltd and concentrate on importing and selling earthmoving equipment. CMH has a long contracting history in Central Otago and traces its roots back to a single bulldozer operation run by Kevin Capell of Hawea, before selling the expanded operation to Allan Dippie.

Today, CMH is involved in the subdivision and civil construction works, as well as transport and craneage, along with a quarry near Wanaka. Paul and Allan have a long association, going back over 20 years.

The relationship was extended with the establishment of the popular Wheels at Wanaka show that started in 2019 and ran again in 2021, with the next show scheduled for Easter 2023.

"Looking to the future, we will definitely be sticking with the Komatsu brand, as customers absolutely love Komatsu, but for some classes of equipment, we will be adding other quality machines and attachments as our clients’ demands dictate," says Allan.

CMH will specialise in the professional end of the hire market, with the mainstays of the operation—excavators from two- to 50-tonne, which are presently 100% Komatsu.

The 25- and 30-tonne dump trucks are a mixture of Volvo and Komatsu, and bulldozers up to D10 size are a mixture of Caterpillar and Komatsu, as well as supplying specialist hire gear such as rollers and attachments.

"We’re not frightened to have a go at new things, and our contracting experience will come in handy. For example, machine control. This is something we use every day at CMH, and I know we should be offering these options throughout the hire fleet," says Allan.

"We will be keeping the hire fleet current, and our customers can expect top equipment with the latest safety and technical features to get the job done right. We have struck up a great relationship with Komatsu NZ, and they have new equipment arriving for us every month for the rest of the year to add to the already extensive Komatsu fleet.

"We can see the hire industry growing internationally and the same is happening in New Zealand. This is because more contractors are getting used to hiring in equipment as needed rather than buying.

The obvious advantage is that there’s no capital tied up or depreciation and R&M is also nil and hiring in gear copes with the seasonal demand for many contractors. I know workshop and repair costs can be the killer, and I think for these reasons, more companies are moving to a 50% ownership model and 50% hire model or some similar combination that suit their needs."

CMH says they look forward to serving the past and present PL Clarke customers with a smooth transition to the new operation, as well as welcoming new customers to the business.

Dunedin-based hire manager Jason Gillies is well known in the industry

"The final important note is that we have great long-term experienced staff who joined CMH from PL Clarke. Jason Gillies will head the Dunedin operation, assisted by Mike Rogers, and in Christchurch, there’s Vivien Brunt in the office, Steve McAlister in field service, and Ron Bouwmeester heading up the workshop.

In Cromwell, we have two great service technicians in Duncan McTavish and Daniel Mulvena, who are key to keeping the fleet 100% hire ready," says Allan.

The company is looking to add another couple of hire managers, one in Cromwell and one in Christchurch, so if anyone knows the industry and would like to be part of the team, call Allan on 027 4334 128. 

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