Cover story: Hick Bros

By: Steve Atkinson, Photography by: Supplied

Hick Bros are using Hidromek machinery as part of their fleet to help establish a new presence in Hawke’s Bay

Long-established north Auckland business Hick Brothers Civil Construction Ltd (Hick Bros)
has made the bold move of establishing a regional base in Hawke’s Bay.

Servicing the central and eastern North Island, the company says the move comes after undertaking several large projects in both the central and Hawke’s Bay regions, which has included geothermal works in Tāupo, and more recently, the Harapaki Wind Farm (DOW 348) northeast of Napier.

With around 50 staff based in Hawke’s Bay, the business has a current focus on Stage One of the 257-lot Iona subdivision on the outskirts of Havelock North and the visually stunning 185-lot Mission Hills subdivision near Napier.

A Hidromek HMK 310LC H4 on earthmoving duties in Havelock North

"With the work we’ve generated in the area and outlook of further projects, we had to make a commitment to staff who have mortgages and rent to pay, that we’re here for the long run," says company general manager Dan Hohneck.

"With big projects we’ve undertaken in the past, such as the Harapaki Wind Farm, it’s a matter of setting up for the duration of the job and then packing up and moving on, however, the level of expertise we’ve put together in the recent past, along with strong working relationships we’ve formed with local partners, has given us a large pool of talent to utilise on other regional work opportunities."

Relying on that talent to deliver the top results clients know Hick Bros for, sees a fleet of modern equipment operating across the company’s job sites, whether that be a multi-unit development on the outskirts of Auckland or the sprawling subdivision lots currently progressing at great speed in Hawke’s Bay.

14- to 30-tonne excavators

Hidromek machines make up a significant part of Hick Bros Hawke’s Bay fleet

Fitting a particular niche within the equipment contingent of the business are a large number of excavators and compaction rollers carrying Hidromek branding, distributed in New Zealand by Magnum Equipment Ltd.

The excavators sit in the 14- to 30-tonne range, a size that’s of particular significance for the type of work Hick Bros specialise in.

"We find this size range works well for the type of civil construction work we carry out," says Dan. "Our fleet of large scrapers and dozers fits one aspect of our business and the Hidromek excavators sit alongside that to carry out the second stage — the diggers are so versatile; we use them for multiple tasks."

From this, Dan is talking about the additional work that gets carried out after the scrapers and dozers are done, such as, roading preparation, drainage works, kerb and channel, footpaths, installation of other utilities, landscaping, right through to the finished product.

Two roller sizes

Hidromek compaction rollers can be supplied with bolt-on padfoot shells

Working alongside the Hidromek excavators a lot of the time are the compaction rollers, which are worth their weight in gold, to ensure there’s a quality solid base underfoot. Hick Bros has two sizes in their fleet, the 11-tonne HMK 110CS H4 single drum roller and the heavier 13-tonne HMK 130CS H4 sibling. Both models have a long-standing reputation of delivering quality results, providing high visibility and operator comfort. They can also be supplied with bolt-on padfoot shells.

Silt and debris work

The 257-lot Iona subdivision in Havelock North is one project the company is currently carrying out

Like a lot of other contractors in the region, Hick Bros has equipment working in the Silt Task Force, following the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

"We had a number of staff affected, so immediately following the event, it was a matter of working with council and communities to open roads and state highways, and then there’s ongoing roading repair work," says Dan.

"With silt control work, the Hidromek machines provide a closed environment that keeps operators isolated from the dust. Probably because the machines are built in Turkey, they know how to put together an air-conditioning system that works well."

Supplier/user relationship

Three Hidromek excavators fuel up before getting back into work mode

Naturally, the owner of any piece of earthmoving equipment is looking for reliability, and a comfortable machine for their operators to use. It’s here that Hick Bros sees the Hidromek brand as a valued item and not just for the quality of the machine itself, Dan says.

"A new machine is always a bonus, but we can be hard critics," he says. "When an operator has a hot/cold box for their food and can work all day in a smooth machine that’s quiet and comfortable, then it takes things to a higher level."

However, there’s also another reason Hick Bros keeps purchasing Hidromek excavators and rollers from Magnum Equipment and that’s the working relationship between the two businesses.

"We like working with Magnum, as in some ways they are similar to us," says Dan. "We’re both reasonable-sized businesses, but you can still phone up and speak to the owner — a decision-maker. Sometimes in the past, we’ve found things with other suppliers can get bogged down in layers of management and it can slow down progress on getting something sorted.

"Magnum has a good service crew in the region and with our premises, yard, and workshop here, we’re passionate to stay in the area."

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