Con­trac­tor Pro­file: Su­san Hadgkiss of Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors

In the first of Earth­movers & Ex­ca­va­tors’ new se­ries ac­knowl­edg­ing the in­dus­try’s finest con­trac­tors, Ron Horner pro­files Su­san Hadgkiss of Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents - Note: This business is as­so­ci­ated with Earth­movers & Ex­ca­va­tors mag­a­zine tech­ni­cal writer Ron Horner.

Have you ever wanted to run your own business but just couldn’t get the con­fi­dence or the cash to­gether?

Well, this well-known business is up for sale and what a way to start our Con­trac­tor Pro­file se­ries than with a suc­cess­ful woman in the in­dus­try – Su­san Hadgkiss from Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors. Here is her story.

Su­san Hadgkiss de­cided about 10 years ago that there was more to life than be­ing a beauty ther­a­pist, aged care nurse and a bud­ding health and well­ness guru.

Strug­gling with her business and try­ing to con­vert the un­con­vertable, she was in­vited as a guest to a func­tion which changed her life.

Out of that con­fer­ence and sub­se­quent meet­ings she de­cided to have a crack at the earth­mov­ing in­dus­try. That was about eight years ago and since then she has, al­beit ac­ci­dently, been part of a dra­matic change in aquatic weed and veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment as well as the ex­ca­va­tor in­dus­try.

Su­san orig­i­nally bought a used Cater­pil­lar

311cu which she con­tracted on several ru­ral projects be­fore the op­por­tu­nity arose re­cently to pur­chase a Hek­ing HK150SD am­phibi­ous ex­ca­va­tor, and the rest is his­tory.

Here at Earth­movers and Ex­ca­va­tors, the Hek­ing has been re­viewed and ap­peared in a few of our ar­ti­cles. Su­san’s suc­cess­ful ca­reer change is a great story and, with the help of a few streets­mart in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als guid­ing her path, has not only cre­ated a very suc­cess­ful business in aquatic weed man­age­ment but opened the flood­gates in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of these bril­liant ma­chines.

The aquatic weed man­age­ment in­dus­try has been turned up­side down with the ad­vent of these ma­chines and, with only a hand­ful of am­phibi­ous ex­ca­va­tors in the coun­try, Su­san’s ex­ploits have cer­tainly helped change the minds of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, gree­nies, farm­ers, coun­cils, canal es­tate own­ers and any­one else who has a weed or silt is­sue on their wa­ter­ways, dams, canals, creeks or rivers.

Nowa­days, Su­san utilises the bladed Cat 311cu (ex­tended dip­per arm length) as a sup­port ma­chine to work along the river banks with the Hek­ing float­ing ex­ca­va­tor. As the floater de-weeds or de-silts the river, creek or dam by plac­ing the ex­ca­vated ma­te­ri­als on or as close to the banks as pos­si­ble, the Cat ex­ca­va­tor stock­piles, dries and loads out the ma­te­rial and com­pletes the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the creek banks

ac­cord­ingly. In the wa­ter, the float­ing ex­ca­va­tor is its own master of des­tiny and noth­ing can come close to the final re­sult once this type of ma­chine has com­pleted its task.

Those once con­tam­i­nated, toxic creek flows, pun­gent-smelling sed­i­men­ta­tion traps, nox­ious and in­va­sive weed species, ex­ces­sive flood de­bris and silt build-up over many years is mirac­u­lously con­verted to a pris­tine land­scaped wa­ter­way that at­tracts wa­ter­fowls and fish species back to a beau­ti­ful wa­ter­way habi­tat.

Hav­ing worked all over the state of Queens­land and New South Wales, Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors is shortly head­ing south to at­tempt to rec­tify a major silt­ing is­sue as­so­ci­ated with the Mur­ray River and re­stricted wa­ter flows to some of the ir­ri­ga­tors lo­cated near Echuca in Vic­to­ria. In her role, Su­san, as the co-or­di­na­tor, book­keeper, ac­coun­tant, pay­roll clerk, and gen­eral go-to per­son for ev­ery­thing else, has seen the business grow with re­mark­able speed and suc­cess.

Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors has suc­cess­fully: saved fish farms from fi­nan­cial ruin by erad­i­cat­ing the in­va­sive weed species which were crip­pling the project; worked on tail­ings dams in gold mines; cre­ated new beach­fronts af­ter se­vere flood­ing and large tides eroded the sand and beaches; saved farm­ers from suf­fer­ing se­vere wa­ter loss and or re­stricted ac­cess to dam or creek wa­ter by re­mov­ing silt build-up; cre­ated larger wa­ter draw points and erad­i­cated nox­ious weed build up around pumps in the creeks or dams on the prop­er­ties dur­ing se­vere droughts; com­pleted major canal wa­ter­front de­silt­ing works to en­sure boats have safe and easy ac­cess to the canals on the Gold Coast; un­der­taken major creek re­me­di­a­tion by re­moval of in­va­sive weed in­fes­ta­tions; cre­ated new wa­ter­ways through un­in­hab­it­able over­grown ar­eas; and mit­i­gated fur­ther flood dam­age and re­ha­bil­i­tated all of the ar­eas to cre­ate a pris­tine, land­scaped and sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment.

Liv­ing in a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment on her farm has meant that se­cur­ing suit­ably highly ex­pe­ri­enced staff to run Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors is an is­sue and one that has meant that the business is now up for sale.

Her ‘main man’ has fi­nally de­cided to hang up his boots af­ter 40 years in the game but is hang­ing around to train the next owner. Su­san has de­cided to sell for a price one could al­most af­ford, even if the new owner was on the dole.

To any­one in­ter­ested in this business, supplied with just about ev­ery­thing you need, in­clud­ing the tin­nie, mo­tor, Aqua-Lung, silt cur­tains, Hilux and fuel tank, you can email info@float­ingex­ca­va­tors.com.au or phone

0408 811 026 for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

In her role, Su­san … has seen the business grow with re­mark­able speed and suc­cess.

1. Sed­i­ment basin con­struc­tion 2. Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors’ canal dredg­ing3. Tweed Heads canal weed man­age­ment pro­gram4. Su­san Hadgkiss of Float­ing Ex­ca­va­tors

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