VIDEO: Porter Press Extra

Where experienced principals give expert training and buy quality plant, excellent employees will grow a small sub-contractor to becoming the preferred go-to option for the big players. Which is the story of Quinn & Connolly’s success.

A small company's reputation often turns on a small point. And if it wants this reputation to become as big as that of Auckland's Quinn & Connolly Drainage, it has to ensure it does the right things right, first time 'round.

Attention to detail, says Kieran Quinn, co-director of Quinn & Connolly Drainage, allowed the company to build up a solid customer base by providing a consistently reliable finished product. Quinn & Connolly Drainage works in all aspects of drainage work, from private to commercial and infrastructure, mainly within the greater Auckland area.

"Quinn & Connolly have undertaken successful construction projects in the Auckland area for over 30 years. We're a family owned business that prides itself on building and maintaining relationships by promoting trust, quality, safety, environmental sustainability, and value in everything we do. "Our vision is to give value to our clients by getting the job done right the first time to ensure repeat custom," Kieran says.

He explains Quinn & Connolly grew from a two man partnership in the 1970s to a company employing 12 people today. "We work in a fairly small, but competitive industry, so there is definitely no room for mistakes and we have to ensure we have the right people and the right machines for the job at hand."

"Our experience in the industry is our main strength, together with our ability to develop staff into productive and knowledgeable tradesman who are recognised by our target market as able to deliver projects on time."

The two director-managers, Kieran Quinn and Jimmy Connolly, have more than half a century of combined experience in the industry, and consequently know the business inside out, including how to optimise human and machine assets. Kieran explains that, like most people in construction, he started as a general labourer, gradually developing the skills which enabled him to take on more responsibility and eventually running his own drainage team.

Over the last 10 years Kieran he has been actively involved in the management of Quinn & Connolly, initially as a director and since his father John's retirement, as a principal director and shareholder in the company. "I believe that a modern construction company, while retaining its core strengths, needs to be flexible and evolve to the needs of its clients.

"This has seen us growing to where we can provide the resources for a wide variety of projects across the industry. I also have a strong belief in developing the skills of the Quinn & Connolly staff and creating a real career path for team members to follow."

Jimmy Connolly started his working life within Wellington's construction environment, shifting to Auckland in the 1980s.

Says Kieran: "There is very little that Jimmy has not seen in that time and he often sees a solution where others do not. Jimmy has always had a very active role in training and developing Quinn & Connolly staff, including myself."

"His motto is 'do it once and do it right'. He takes pride in his work and this attitude, coupled with his belief in delivering a quality product, is reflected throughout the Quinn & Connolly team. His experience allows him to evaluate immediately what the plant and people requirements are for any project and how to complete it to the highest quality, on time and on budget."

But, like many operators in the industry right now, Kieran says Quinn & Connolly sometimes find it problematic to find additional staff with the required skills set. "It is an aging industry and it's not always easy to attract new people into the trade. So we do what we can to make a career with us attractive to prospective employees. Looking after our people and providing good, reliable plant for them to work with is one of our competitive advantages to find and retain excellent staff," he says.

Kieran says an unreliable machine and the consequent downtime is frustrating for everybody involved, and an expensive learning curve. "So when we expand our fleet, or replace a machine that has done its time, we want to make sure we know who and what we are dealing with and get good value for money."

The company recently bought a new Hyundai R235LCR-9 from Porter Group as a replacement machine. Quinn & Connolly's fleet includes several 20 to 24-tonne excavators, one 13-tonne excavator, a number of drainage tractors, concrete tools, rock breakers, and pumps. Three of the company's excavators are Porter Group products.

"We've built up a good relationship with Porter Group over the years. The company know us and our requirements, and was able to supply what we needed at short notice on what we felt were very favourable terms.

"Porter services our machines, and has always been very reliable. Additionally, the company does the services at our convenience, which is a crucial point for a company our size," Kieran says.

An important reason why Quinn & Connolly decided on the new Hyundai R235LCR-9 is its zero tail swing, which gives the machine the ability to do drainage excavation work in confined or limited spaces. The machine is now working on a Hawkins Construction project in Kumeu, laying CLS pipe, until the end of August.

Another reason is the machine is economical to run, including good maintenance costs. A fuel efficient Cummins QSB6.7 engine that is electronically controlled for optimum fuel to air ratio and clean, efficient combustion and has a self-diagnostic system, powers the excavator. The combination of a high pressure common rail system and an advanced in-cylinder combustion technology results in increased power, improved transient response and the reduced fuel consumption.

The QSB6.7 Cummins engine complies with current emissions standards including EPA Tier3 and EU Stage III-A. The low noise, Kieran says, is a particularly pleasant bonus. The engine also has an auto engine overheat and anti-start feature.

The engine uses industry leading, powerful, reliable Kawasaki designed variable volume in-line axial piston pumps and has a new compact solenoid block equipped with three solenoid valves, one EPPR valve, one check valve accumulator, and line filter controls, which Kieran describes as "invaluable when fitted as standard factory fittings". It also offers two speed travel, a power boost, boom priority, arm-in regeneration, and a safety lock.

The Hyundai R235LCR-9 features bushings designed for extended lube intervals up to 250 hrs, wear resistant, noise reducing polymer shims, extended-life hydraulic filters ( up to1,000hrs), long-life hydraulic oil (up to 5,000hrs), more efficient cooling systems, and integrated preheating systems, all which extend service intervals, minimise operating costs and reduce machine down time. "Zero swing machines reduce double handling, increase productivity due to being able to operate with a smaller footprint," Kieran says.

The Hyundai R235LCR-9 can do the hard yards and an extra mile - its reinforced box-section frame is welded using low-stress high strength steel, and the X-leg type centre frame is integrally welded for maximum strength and durability. Durable track rail guards keep track links in place. Track adjustment is made easy with standard grease cylinder track adjusters and shock absorbing springs.

Operator Martin Connolly says the Hyundai R235LCR-9's cabin's is well laid out and the controls easy to understand and program to his requirements. He finds it spacious and comfortable. Additional creature comforts include the fully automatic high-capacity air conditioning system and the radio / USB player. Operators can talk on the phone with the hands-free feature. "It is a pleasure to use," Martin says.

The cabin is designed for a clear, open, and convenient interior with a wider field of view on the machine surroundings and the job at hand. To achieve optimum precision, Hyundai redesigned the hydraulic system to provide the operator with super fine touch and improved controllability. Improved pump flow control reduces flow when controls are not being used, another fuel consumption minimizing feature.

Quinn & Connolly have been a major subcontractor on the $200M NZTA funded Hobsonville Deviation, doing major construction, drainage and culvert works using pipes from 225 to 2550 diameter in single, double and triple barrel combinations, and coordinating the use of cranes, dump trucks, and large excavators as required.

Recent subdivision projects include work for Dempsey & Wood in Flatbush, HEB Contractors in Dannemora, Karaka and Addison in Takanini. Recent commercial projects include work on the Project Century Brewery complex in East Tamaki, Auckland and the Visy Recycling premises in Onehunga. The company has a reputation for successfully working in challenging conditions and confined spaces.

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