Porter press extra: Gaddum Construction

By: Editor, Photography by: Editor


Times are-a-changing and contractor Guy Gaddum is an example of the type of person we should expect to see more of in the future.

Based out of Rotorua, Gaddum Construction Limited provides crews and equipment to the forestry and rural communities, primarily to the eastern Bay of Plenty areas. Guy comes from a family with its roots in the quarry and construction industry, so it's no surprise that like many of his era, he learned to drive trucks and machinery from a young age.

Although one would think his future had been pretty much mapped out for him, it seemed that for a long time this would not be the case. Guy attended university, firstly obtaining a degree in forestry science and then following it up with a master's degree in engineering management.

Once completed, a stint overseas followed, which included two years driving throughout Europe, delivering all manner of goods, including women's bra components. After a few years of this however, home beckoned and in 2002 Guy returned to New Zealand to raise a family. It wasn't long before those deep-seated family connections started making themselves felt, and Guy found himself employed in the forestry and (eventually) contracting industries.

When you meet Guy, it's not hard to see he is very capable, so it probably came as no surprise that he finally branched out on his own. In 2009, he tendered for and won a substantial forestry roading contract. Winning the contract, Guy had to get things happening quickly.

"I needed to finance a lot more gear in a hurry. Some companies I spoke to wanted the family jewels, but I found Porters understood my business and put together a very realistic finance package."

From this point on, everything fell into place smoothly and Guy says that on the first day of the new contract, the crew turned up and all the equipment was waiting on site, fuelled up and ready to work.

On the day we visit, one crew is roading a particularly steep site at the Glenholme-Waiotahi forest, and we find them busy loading out brown rock to build up a stable sub-base prior to it being overlaid with a final layer of crushed aggregate.

Finding a short break in between trucks, we ask operator Corey Robinson what he likes about his new R250LC-9. Pausing briefly to put his boots on (all Gaddum operators keep extremely tidy machines), Robinson says the spacious cabs, heated air seats and rear-vision camera get the thumbs-up from him. These comments are also echoed by the other Gaddum operators we speak to during our visit.

At the other end of the site, operator Andy Percy has just ticked over 660 hours with his RC140LCD-9 excavator. This machine is fitted with a blade and is ideal for spreading the brown rock dumped from the trucks at four- to five-minute intervals.

There are strict conditions attached to Gaddum's roading contract. One is a specification that no bulldozers be used during any works, so a lot is expected of the Hyundai machinery. Guy says that this type of environmental policy means all water must be contained on site and only released when it contains no contamination whatsoever. Doing all the work with excavators means the smallest footprint possible is created, with stripping, benching, and compaction completed to a higher standard, and this becomes very noticeable when viewing the areas being worked. The RC140LCD-9's blade makes it a necessity to keep within the strict contract conditions.

A lot of Guy's time is taken up visiting the crews, of which can be spread out over a large geographical area. Today is no different, with a trip of around 110 kilometres required to check on the next job at Omaio. This forest is located on local iwi land and two of Guy's crew are part of the local tribe. He says it is good to know his company can employ local people who have an attachment to the land and that are working their land, which in turn is providing financial resources to their iwi.

Further up the hill we find Michael (Pilot) Butler and his son John (John Boy). Along with Warren (Moo) Moana, these guys have been roading this forest for nearly four years. Today is no different and John Boy has been busy cutting and trimming a section of road, while spreading more brown rock sub-base. His R250LC-9 excavator has just run over 6000 hours, but a quick look around it and you wouldn't notice, such is the condition of the machine. Even at 6000 hours, the inside of the cab has never seen the muddy soles of work boots.

Like the previous site we were at, it is easy to see Gaddum Construction does not employ hackers and even an untrained eye would quickly spot the high quality of work the operators achieve with their Hyundai equipment.

The spread of work and workers means individual operators need to be able to work to a high environmental standard safely and in a cost effective manner while largely unsupervised. Guy finds that investment in such things as formal training, hiring workers with a good attitude and using tools such as the Hyundai Hi-Mate system allows him to be confident the boys are doing a good job with less day-to-day input from him.

The recent focus of the company has been the upgrading of older gear the company owns and with the good run of the Hyundai gear and after-sales backup, it wasn't a hard decision to purchase more machinery from Porter Equipment.

"How well is the Hyundai equipment working out, you ask?" says Guy. "Well, put it this way — I have told my mechanic to find us some outside work."

The latest excavators Gaddum Construction has purchased are R140LC-9, R210LC-9, and a R250LC-9. These machines are on a full maintenance programme which sees them maintained by Porters for 6000 hours, by which time Guy predicts he will probably sell them and purchase new again, using the same system.

"Our maintenance is virtually nil and we intend to keep it that way," Guy says.

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