Special feature: Bowers Brothers Concrete

By: Brook Harland, Photography by: Supplied

Waikato-based Bowers Brothers Concrete have fully stepped into the Auckland market with the recent opening of a ready-mixed concrete plant in Riverhead

With open invitations sent to contractors, pumpees (pump operators), local hardware merchants and others with a fancy for the grey hard stuff a concrete plant produces, we got the chance to take a look around a brand-new yard while enjoying a cold drink and a snag in the sun at Bowers Brothers Riverhead Redi-Mix plant opening day in early December 2023.   

Being a West Auckland-based civil contractor, I was interested to learn more about what they had on offer. Having only associated the Bowers brand with masonry and precast products in the past, I was surprised to learn they not only have multiple masonry plants but also six Redi-Mix plants spread across the Waikato and Coromandel regions, which have been in service for many years.


With Riverhead becoming home to Bower’s newest facility, they are on the doorstep of a fast-growing region and it’s their seventh Redi-Mix yard to service the North Island but a first for Auckland.

Along with the big players in the concrete industry who are striving towards reducing the global warming potential of the concrete industry, Bower Brothers say they also align with concrete sector industry group Concrete NZ’s vision of a sustainable and environmentally responsible concrete industry by 2030.

Plant walkaround

The Riverhead plant is located in a fast-growing region

It’s not often you get to walk around a concrete plant, and I was well impressed with the simple but thoughtfully laid out infrastructure they had in place. 

Comparing my knowledge of making concrete in a plant to that of making our own concrete onsite with a shovel and a barrow-sized mixer, I felt there was a lot to absorb and learn about the goings on in the new facility.

Getting a chance to walk around and observe the equipment used to batch their brews, I had the chance to ask the Bowers lads a few technical questions about how they batched loads into their rigs. 

I was quick to put together that all the ingredients needed to make a load of the grey gold were dry-mixed into each truck. The plant then adds a bucket or two of sky juice directly into the truck bowls and then lets them prepare it on the way to the site.

They have a different methodology than some other ready-mix plants that pre-mix their loads in a truck-sized bowl that’s part of the plant, then load their lorries.

I figure Bowers preparing the brew on the way to the site would give the contractors onsite additional handling time to deal with a product that hasn’t had extra time to go off during a pre-mix process.

Moisture quality control

The enclosed loading bay minimises noise and dust issues

Being that the science of producing concrete is similar to making a cake, except with a lot more variables, such as regularly changing moisture content in your aggregates and sand sitting in outdoor bins (an issue served daily by Auckland’s weather), all the aggregates and sand get a morning ritual of moisture testing.

By daily testing for this, the plant gets the best data to then decide how much water to add to their mix (a calculated figure spat out from the computer) to make each load align with the desired slump required by the client.

Top plant and machinery

The new Hitachi wheel loader is fitted with scales

With a lot of money well spent, Bowers seem to do a great job of investing in top-quality plant and machinery. Looking around at the open day, I spotted a brand-new Hitachi wheel loader. With scales fitted on the machine, it would put a grin on any operator’s face while they precisely load hoppers with sand and aggregate.

As well as the loader having scales, the hoppers they load into are weighing sand and aggregate, with a digital display for the operator to see before it is sent up the conveyor and onto the waiting concrete truck.

Two cement silos tower above the yard and gives the plant the option of carrying different branded cement materials if the want was desired. With a direct line to the plant, the silo contents are blown through to a measuring system, which then feeds into the truck bowl and is added at the same time as the aggregate and sand.

If oxide or a special additive is required, it’s directly added along with the calculated water content. With this process complete, the trucks are off out through the gate, mixing its way to the job.

Water recycling

Producing ready-mix concrete has high environment and general business costs, so improving recycling processes to minimise the use of materials has many benefits.

Having a fully concreted yard space reaps long-term benefits by capturing and recycling water from the entire yard while filtering any undesirable contents would have to be the biggest win. Other benefits would be being able to easily control dust in an environment that could disrupt neighbours and significantly reduce any health and safety issues.

Trucks at their fingertips

Five trucks are currently based at the plant

Currently, there are five Redi-Mix trucks based in Riverhead, with Bowers having additional units at their fingertips with more than 30 or so based around the southern yards. After chatting with them, they indicated they’re more than happy to bring extra rigs in to cover workloads as their name in the local industry grows.

Something else we discussed was their willingness to work with clients. Need a 2am pour? No worries. Need concrete on a Saturday or before church on a Sunday? Call them and make a plan.

Having been in the game for something like 90 years, Bowers already have a trusted name for quality products and seamless service in the Waikato and around the North Island. It might be time to give the big boys a rest and try something new for summer; I know
I will be.

Who is Concrete NZ?

Concrete NZ represents more than 600 corporates and individuals, being formed in 2017 after a consolidation of Cement and Concrete Association of NZ (CCANZ), Precast NZ (PCNZ), NZ Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NZRMCA), NZ Concrete Masonry Association (NZCMA), NZ Concrete Society, and NZ Portland Cement Association (NZPCA).

The industry body says they believe the following proposals are crucial to improving outcomes for the construction and infrastructure sectors, and the overall betterment of New Zealanders.

  • Building regulatory system improvement
  • Construction and infrastructure COVID-19 recovery
  • Investment in concrete roads
  • Construction and infrastructure capability and capacity
  • Concrete NZ says they are available to help on any building and construction or concrete matter, whether it’s material, design or structurally related

For more information, contact Luke Bowers at 021 724 315 or riverhead@bowerbrothers.co.nz or visit bowersbrothers.co.nz.

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