strength IN NUM­BERS

Har­ri­son Hunkin stopped by Bris­bane Mini Ex­ca­va­tor Sales on a re­cent trip up north to check out their ag-specced Her­cules wheel loader

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Profile -

The ver­sa­tile Her­cules wheel load­ers are prov­ing to be big sell­ers for Bris­bane Mini Ex­ca­va­tor Sales with 200 be­ing sold in the past six years – and agri­cul­ture-spec mod­els are lead­ing the charge.

I dropped in to see the fam­ily-run com­pany on a re­cent trip to Queens­land and was sur­prised to hear that the main cus­tomers buy­ing the Her­cules ma­chines are cat­tle, silage and hay farm­ers.

It seems the rea­son is sim­ple: while they are man­u­fac­tured in China, the Her­cules load­ers are built for Aus­tralian con­di­tions un­der the guid­ance of BMES.

Sales ex­ec­u­tive Steven Ragen­ovich says they talk di­rectly to the fac­tory, cut­ting out the is­sues that arise when op­er­at­ing with a mid­dle man.

“There’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into the load­ers,” he says. “It’s our own air-con­di­tion­ing, and we’ve made a lot of mod­i­fi­ca­tions to suit Aus­tralian con­di­tions.

“From our own en­gi­neer­ing back­grounds, we’ve told the Chi­nese how to de­sign the air-con­di­tion­ing, the hy­draulics and the cool­ing.”

On my ar­rival at BMES HQ in Yatala, south-east Queens­land, Ragen­ovich wastes no time in show­ing me the ver­sa­til­ity of the Her­cules loader.

He wran­gles up an 8-tonne Her­cules HC-800B with a log grab con­nected to it and lines up a few at­tach­ments around the loader to pose for the cam­era.

“So here we’ve got the hay spikes, the 4-in-1 bucket, the stan­dard bucket and the forks, all which can be used with the HC-800B loader,” Ragen­ovich says en­thu­si­as­ti­cally, point­ing out the ar­ray of at­tach­ments.

But that’s not it for the Her­cules range, with rock buck­ets, stick rakes and an auger, just to name a few, also avail­able as at­tach­ments. The changeover be­tween at­tach­ments can be done within sec­onds.

In terms of stan­dard fea­tures, the Her­cules HC800B loader boasts a Cum­mins 97kW en­gine, an ex­tra-large ROPS cer­ti­fied cabin, high-vol­ume air-con­di­tioner, elec­tronic joy­stick con­trol and a sus­pen­sion seat.

Other fea­tures in­clude an elec­tronic trans­mis­sion, an im­pres­sive 8000kg op­er­at­ing weight, a 1.5-2m3 bucket ca­pac­ity, hy­draulic quick hitch, aux­il­iary hy­draulics, four-wheel disc brakes and a re­vers­ing cam­era.

De­spite such specs, BMES be­lieves the Her­cules loader’s main sell­ing point is its “qual­ity driv­e­train” and the war­ranty deal that comes with each ma­chine.

“We of­fer gen­uine war­ranties, not bought war­ranties; they are our own war­ranties,” Ragen­ovich em­pha­sises.

“Our load­ers also have an ex­port-qual­ity driv­e­train, not a Chi­nese-qual­ity driv­e­train,” he adds. “There’s a big dif­fer­ence and that’s our niche in the mar­ket.

“Also, all our ma­chines are backed by GPS track­ing. This way we know the hours the ma­chine has done or other main­te­nance is­sue we know about.

“Cus­tomers love the idea be­cause they can ac­tu­ally turn off that loader if it’s been stolen – and we can track it for war­ranty rea­sons as well.”

Ragen­ovich says BMES – which was es­tab­lished in 1993 and has a 20-plus work­force – prides it­self on re­li­able ser­vice, and that shows in the com­pany’s ex­ten­sive back-up parts op­er­a­tion. There are three ded­i­cated spare-part spe­cial­ists for Her­cules load­ers alone, and BMES also runs com­plete hy­draulic, elec­tri­cal, and me­chan­i­cal work­shops.

“Ev­ery­thing is on the shelf part-wise, we don’t have is­sues and we sell far and wide,” Ragen­ovich says. “When the ma­chines are sold, the pre-de­liv­ery process goes for a full week. It’s a re­ally big process to get the ma­chine out; we don’t just say, ‘Thanks very much – see you later.’”

BMES pro­vides two types of Her­cules-branded load­ers: the Her­cules load­ers are agri­cul­tural load­ers while the Her­cules En­sign is the con­struc­tion loader brand.

“We were mainly con­struc­tion but now we deal in agri­cul­ture as well; we are al­ways ex­pand­ing our range,” Ragen­ovich says.

“I even had [agri­food busi­ness] Con­sol­i­dated Pas­toral Com­pany in the other day. They have 16 prop­er­ties across the top of Aus­tralia, 400,000 head of cat­tle and 5.5 mil­lion hectares and they just pur­chased a Her­cules loader off us and are look­ing at buy­ing more; so we are try­ing to get that rap­port with our cus­tomers.”

So why should peo­ple buy a Her­cules loader? Ragen­ovich be­lieves it’s be­cause of the ex­tra work they’ve put into the ma­chine.

“Our ma­chines are of qual­ity as we’ve paid the ex­tra money,” he says. “Qual­ity is what cus­tomers want above all other things, and the Her­cules loader is a qual­ity Chi­nese im­ported loader.

“There are many other la­bels and brands of all vary­ing prices and qual­ity, but we think we’ve got the best Chi­nese-built loader on the mar­ket for its price,” Ragen­ovich adds.

The Her­cules load­ers range in price from $32,000 for the 4-tonne loader and $160,000 for the 22-tonne model.

We’ve made a lot of mod­i­fi­ca­tions to suit Aus­tralian con­di­tions

1. The Her­cules HC-800B wheel

loader in the BMES yard

2. The ROPS cab is ex­tra large 3. When the ma­chines are sold, the pre-de­liv­ery process goes for a full week

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