fam­ily ties

An in­no­va­tive at­tach­ment helped fa­ther-son civil ex­ca­va­tion com­pany RMA Civil Con­tract­ing grow from a hum­ble start in re­gional Vic­to­ria

Earthmovers & Excavators - - OPERATOR PROFILE -

Matt Ayres was 16 and in Year 10 at Saint Paul’s Col­lege, Al­tona when one week­end he and his dad, Rob, used an oxy torch to cut the cur­tain side body off the fam­ily’s gen­eral haulage truck and turn it into a flatbed. It was a leap of faith.

Out of the blue, truckie Rob had been of­fered an in­fra­struc­ture job lay­ing un­der­ground ca­bles and erect­ing street lights – and he fig­ured, why not.

All he needed was a 1.5 tonne ex­ca­va­tor, a side­kick and a flatbed truck.

“I’ll never for­get it – the cur­tain side was at­tached in four places; we both had a go at the oxy and we winched it clean away,” Matt grins.

Matt was do­ing well at school – cap­tain of the footy team, pretty sound aca­dem­i­cally and grad­u­a­tion was two years away, but that week­end they sorted it out.

Fa­ther and son formed a start-up busi­ness,

RMA (for Rob and Matt Ayres), which to­day sees 30-year-old Matt head­ing a civil ex­ca­va­tion com­pany that con­tin­ues to grow in size and stature.

Matt ac­quired his skills when just months into the busi­ness he kicked his dad off the con­trols and took over.

“Peo­ple we worked for kept telling me I had a long way to go, but I wasn’t dis­cour­aged, it just spurred me on to get bet­ter,” he says.


The mo­ment of truth came on a big civil job in Gee­long.

“I rocked up to the wet­lands; they’d dug them out by ma­chine and about 70 truck loads of top­soil ar­rived, and it was up to me to smooth it all out,” he says. “I guess I faked it, till I made it.”

Matt had closely ob­served drainage crews work­ing with Ko­matsu ex­ca­va­tors and load­ers and “I fig­ured I had to ex­pand into this”.

He went to peo­ple he’d met in the busi­ness and they coun­selled him against it – “that size of op­er­a­tion is not for you”, they told him.

Out of the blue, Matt be­came aware of a big pipe­line op­por­tu­nity at the Mo­bil Oil Re­fin­ery and he looked for an edge that would get him the job.

“I’d read about an at­tach­ment that’s big in Europe, but not so much here,” he says.

It pro­vided sub­stan­tial flex­i­bil­ity, ro­tat­ing through 360 de­grees, tilt­ing 45 de­grees and, most im­por­tantly, al­lowed the oper­a­tor to swap be­tween bucket, ham­mer and hy­draulic grabs with­out leav­ing the cock­pit.

He took the idea and the po­ten­tial of the Mo­bil con­tract to Ko­matsu.

“I think their first re­ac­tion was: ‘Yeah right’,”

Matt says.

“They didn’t know me, but they lis­tened and when they looked at what Dad and I had achieved

Above: The Ko­matsu PC 240 ex­ca­va­tor is equipped with in­tel­li­gent ma­chine con­trol and elec­tronic pro­por­tional con­trols

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