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

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents - Words and im­ages: Barry Ashen­hurst

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

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