Contractor Profile: MJR Excavations
Hyundai and the Porter Group have played a big part in this Hunter Valley mining contractor’s rise from plant operator to plant owner
I’m happy I went with Hyundai. It’s been strong, reliable gear, important qualities for any contractor.
There’s a widely held belief that banking and real estate are the most attractive paths to success for driven young men who don’t mind long hours. But if we could scan stats on where entrepreneurs actually come from, we’d see that many were in their twenties when they had the guts to back their instincts in the earthmoving business.
It’s not as sanitised as banking or real estate, but there’s certainly a good career in moving dirt around.
Not uncommon are stories of young fellas who started out with one backhoe or skid-steer loader and ended up with a huge fleet. We’ve all seen it because it happens all over the country with men like 32-yearold Matt Robinson and MJR Excavations. If ever there was a story of starting from gravel level and working your way to the top of the rock pile, this is it.
Matt’s parents operated an earthmoving company, so he gathered early impressions of how the business works, but he didn’t start with a gifted backhoe. Far from it. After leaving school he worked as a labourer for three years, before passing assessments on a range of equipment including dozers and excavators.
While working for his parents, Matt took on a supervisor role in the coal mines, looking after around 15 pieces of equipment and operators.
After a time, planning how he could build a business and maintain his independence, while grabbing any opportunity that drifted by, Matt gradually started buying his own pieces of equipment and MJR Excavations was born.
It was a gamble to be sure, always is in this business, but the formative years must have taught him something. It wasn’t long before Matt was doing business with the Porter Group, established in 1945 as specialists in the supply and support of large and small excavators, dump trucks,
wheeled loaders and skid-steer loaders. (Their portfolio is impressive; see for yourself at www.portergroup.com.au).
Another factor making Porter a likely supplier was that the company represents Hyundai in Australia. Since Matt’s parents’ fleet consisted largely of Hyundai equipment, he had plenty of experience with the brand. He knew what to expect. He was confident it could do the work required, so he bit the bullet and made his first big purchase, an R210LC-9 excavator.
Matt began to secure contracts within the coal mining industry, so 18 months later another machine was being assembled for MJR Excavations, a Hyundai HL7809 loader, which we saw feeding a Powerscreen road-base plant.
Matt now owns six pieces of Hyundai equipment supplied by Porter Group.
These include three R210LC-9 excavators, two R290LC-9 excavators, and a R380LC-9 excavator.
Another R210LC-9 excavator and a R430LC-9 excavator are on the way.
The Hyundai equipment is utilised over
a number of activities, both on and off coal mining sites.
Clearly, Matt and Shellie Robinson have a lot on their plate. Running a business like this doesn’t stop at 5pm Friday. There are wages to process, operator assessments to be conducted, fleet maintenance activities to be organised, and induction procedures.
Safety isn’t a slogan in this industry; it’s a rule you live by and if you break that rule you’ll soon be looking for work elsewhere.
“We’ve got a great bunch of people working for us, all of them competent and safe operators,” he says.
Matt says he’s also keen to explore the potential in further dry hire work.
“Right now I have two dozers, three dump trucks and three excavators on dry hire and I’d like to see a bit more of that.
“On dry hire we supply only the machine, not the operator, so it’s good business for us and a way to make sure at least some of our gear isn’t sitting idle,” he says.
Matt adds he’s happy he went with Hyundai for most of his equipment over the years.
“That was a good decision. It’s been strong and reliable, important qualities for any contractor,” he says.
“It costs less than some of the other recognised brands and always gets the job done.
“In my opinion the resale value’s pretty good too. I don’t have any complaints about Hyundai.
“In my book, it’s top gear.”
And it’s the same story with the equipment supplier.
“Having the Porter Group behind us makes a big difference,” Matt says.
“We’ve been dealing with them for eight years now and nothing’s ever too much trouble for those guys.
“As far as I’m concerned, their technical support and spare parts back-up are second to none.”
Having the Porter Group behind us made a big difference. We’ve been dealing with them for eight years now and nothing’s ever too much trouble for those guys.
Left: Matt on the job in the Hunter Valley
Far Left: The R380LC-9 loading rock into a Powerscreen setup that turns boulders into 45mm road-base Left: Hyundai’s HL780-9 loader is the main pick-upand-carry workhorse on MJR’s fleet