Profile: Max Earthworks Ltd

By: Steve Atkinson, Photography by: Supplied

When Hawke's Bay-based Shane Max decided to set himself up in business with a new excavator, he sought advice from a heavy equipment expert

Shane Max

Hawke’s Bay-based Shane Max always wanted to drive a bulldozer as a young man, but his grandfather convinced him to get a trade first, so he enlisted in the New Zealand Army and obtained his qualifications as an A-grade petrol and diesel mechanic.

As well as being able to repair almost anything the army had, Shane also got to operate a lot of it as well, which helped establish his skills for the future.

Being a quiet, thoughtful person, Shane is a self-confessed petrolhead with a passion for hot rods. He has always owned V8s, runs a local car club, loves a classic vehicle, and the odd drop of Steinlager.

He’s also a devoted husband, father, and grandfather who’s now passing on advice to another generation, but we digress.

Heavy machinery dream


By 1993, Shane had left the army in pursuit of the heavy machinery dream. His first year as a civilian started off driving trucks, and by 1994, he had transitioned to motor scrapers and bulldozers in Hawke’s Bay.

When 2008 rolled around, Shane was roading and harvesting in the forestry industry for Elliot Logging and then Dennis Glenn Logging. With a lot of time in the seat of many different machines and brands, Shane has seen people, mechanics, and businesses come and go.

"Having a mechanical background gave me a great understanding of equipment, the cost of downtime, and how to get the best from a machine without unduly damaging it," says Shane. "They are tools, not toys and you should look after and maintain them as such to get the best out of them."

New ventures

Phil Means (left) and VJ Cooper’s trucks are set up for breakdowns and servicing. Phil’s truck is equipped with a hose press.

Fast forward to this year’s cyclone event in Hawke’s Bay, the opportunity to work for himself arose and Shane took the leap into his own machine. It was a life-changing decision and Max Earthworks Ltd was born.

A number of well-known brands were on the radar for the new business owner, and it was suggested that Shane talk to equipment expert Phil Means about it.

Well-known in the equipment industry, especially around the Hawke’s Bay region, Phil had recently left his previous job and started a new venture with VJ Cooper from Heavy Hose and Attachments Ltd.

Established to be a one-stop-shop for servicing equipment and repairs of hydraulic hoses, VJ and Phil’s business operates throughout their local region, with the two owners having closer working relationships with their customers than perhaps some of the bigger corporate companies.

Phil then went on and arranged a purchase deal for a 16.8-tonne Hidromek HMK 145LCSR H4 excavator and helped organise the finance, all delivered on the promise of providing a personal touch.

Digmax attachments for locals

Along with the servicing side of Phil and VJ’s business, the pair have secured a deal with equipment supplier Digmax to supply attachments and servicing to the Hawke’s Bay region.

At the time of writing, the Heavy Hose and Attachments Ltd team was working towards getting a supply and service agreement across the line to offer an excavator brand to their local market.

The obvious choice

Shane’s TR hitch and 1850mm wide bucket 

Getting back to Shane of Max Earthworks, a deal had been done on an excavator, but what was he going to put on the end of the digging arm? With VJ and Phil supplying and supporting his excavator, the choice to go with the attachments they distribute and service became obvious.

On the pick-up, Shane went with the Digmax TR hitch, an innovative Kiwi design with curved hydraulic cylinders and floating seals. It’s an out-of-the-box bit of kit and is an innovative, compact, and lightweight tilting hitch.

The appeal to Shane was the Kiwi-designed curved cylinder and the reduction in servicing this afforded. He had seen oil seals fail on other traditional tilt hitch designs.

This often left a wait for tilt cylinders, or in the case of rotary hitches, being sent away to be resealed. It could mean downtime of up to a week or sometimes longer.

"We had a seal leak," recalls Shane. "It was diagnosed, a new seal ordered, and in an hour, it was repaired on-site by the boys at Heavy Hose and Attachments. The communication between customer service agent and supplier was superb."

Digmax wide bucket

Along with the Digmax TR hitch, Shan fitted a Digmax wide bucket. With no tight corners at the back of the bucket, the excavated product is less likely to stick.

"It just doesn’t stick," says Shane. "And it’s great when on full tilt on the TR hitch — the bucket doesn’t dig in on the ends when crowding in, so I can create a smoother efficient job."

Digmax clamp bucket

Double pumper twin ram clamp bucket 

What Phil and VJ say is the crown jewel of clamp buckets, the double pumper twin-cylinder clamp bucket is another innovative design from Digmax. The geometry of the bucket is quickly making it a well-regarded attachment among contractors in the know.

"It’s the most versatile clamp bucket there is," says Shane. "Whether it’s picking up slash, digging up trees, picking and placing rocks, or burying burn piles — everything from demolition work to tree work, this bucket is the king of the clamps."

As Shane’s business grows, if there are any other attachments needed, chances are high that he will ring VJ or Phil and it’ll be Digmax all the way. For anyone who’s sceptical about Shane’s new attachments, at the time of writing, he was closing in on 1000 hours
of use and is constantly putting them to serious work.

It’s a big step starting up a new business and trying something different to the norm, but with local support and innovative equipment, Shane is happy he chose to go into New Zealand earthmoving with Digmax and the team at Heavy Hose and Attachments.

For more information, contact Phil Means at 027 4468 873 or visit

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