Hoult Contractors is one of Manawatu's longest operating excavation and development contracting companies with over 65 years of successful ventures in the area.
The company is hugely diverse, taking on everything from subdivisions and site excavation earthworks to driveways, concreting, carparks, developments, horse arenas, and tree removal. To feed all these projects, Hoult's run a quarry in the foothills of Palmerston North that also privately sell aggregates and supplies a range of businesses with materials for concrete, topsoil, and sands. In recent years, they have expanded significantly due to the purchase of new equipment, which has improved their output and ability to produce various aggregates. With the improved capacity came changes to the business model overall that have proven highly successful and continue to grow month on month.
How it Was
Just over three years ago, Hoult Contracting hired their current quarry manager Brian Coley, who had eighteen years of experience in quarries working up in Hawkes Bay. As he was hired, the company's owner was in the process of purchasing a new K4 scalping screen and R3h impactor, which turned into something that would prove transformative for the business. Pre-purchase of the new equipment, the quarry operated on a range mobile made fixed plant to produce a few different aggregates to supply their projects. This machinery did its job, but not well. Brian described the overall situation with the older machinery as "challenging" due to the large amount of downtime caused by it. "We used to have an old Keuken 210 jaw and 3-foot Symons cone, which was pretty unreliable." As Brian described the quarry's output numbers, "they were anything but consistent; some days we would only do 10 ton due to breakdowns and other issues on a bad day, and about 300-400 on a good day."
Acquiring the Keestrack K4 and R3h became transformative because these inconsistent and low volumes changed drastically. "The best tonnage we have had so far on gap 65 has been 310 to 320 an hour which is pumping. Compare that to how it used to be on a good day where we would only do 300-400 tons for the entire day." Once the team had been inducted, and the machines were optimized and free from teething issues, the quarry had to start changing its business model due to the much higher output capacity. Rather than only supplying based on immediate project demand, the business was able to prepare aggregate for a range of different jobs while simultaneously starting to take orders. "The impactor has allowed us to have stockpiles, which is something we never had before. We work our stockpiles to be around 1500 to 2000 tons now, before we got the impactor that was never possible."
Stockpiling is a practice that gives quarries the ability to plan out supplying projects and also gives it options around selling aggregate to the public or contractors that need it on short notice. Stockpiling like this allows the quarry to become much more responsive, which helps build customer relationships and trust-building around reliability. Because the quarry has aggregate on hand, customers trust that they can go and order aggregate when they need it and have it on time. As Brian puts it, "I can get a phone call from a purchaser saying they need 20,000 cube of gap 65 for a project. Before we got the Keestrack gear, we would never have taken a job like that on, whereas now, I can go out to the stockpiles, have a measure up and go, OK, I've got 3,000 tons of it there already so well just keep making it to supply the rest of your project."
The new machinery also allowed Hoult's quarry to diversify in terms of product. With their old machinery, they had much less ability to easily reconfigure the machines and produce different grades of aggregate. Hoults primarily made 2mm and 5mm sand, with some gap 65, 40mm, and 20mm, which required reconfiguration to produce the different sizes. The addition of the K4 allowed simultaneous screening, separation, and piling of the varied sizes of product. At the same time, the R3h handles the oversize, while the sand screw and dewatering screen separate the 2mm and 5mm sand. The R3h with screen box also allowed Hoults to start producing M4 on top of what they were already making. This diversification in product allowed Hoults to begin selling a full range of aggregates, increasing the cash flow through the business by giving their customers more options. "Although our main focus is creating sand for the concrete market, our most sold product is gap65, but we also sell a lot of 40mm, 20mm top course, or gap 20, and we are starting to sell a bit of m4 now, we never used to even be able to make that."
Brian described the transition to the new equipment as "pretty easy." There were a few teething issues with the R3h initially, but Hoults and Equip2 quickly worked together to iron those out. Purchasing the equipment through Equip2 meant that they were given a full induction to how the machines work and how to maintain them and provided Hoults with industry-leading service. Brain explained that now, the main challenge is maintaining the equipment. "The challenges are the regular maintenance, checking plates and oil levels, stuff like that. Now that we have our head around it, we open the machine up twice a week and check everything over, which keeps it going. Otherwise, the boys find the machines very user friendly with the new technology compared to the old machines we used to have."
Other than this regular preventative maintenance, the team at Hoults quarry have almost eliminated downtime allowing them to produce much more with fewer issues. They also have come to know and trust the Equip2 team with any problems or questions that come up. "I've personally got a really good working relationship with the boys Robin and Luke up there at Equip2, and I'd definitely recommend them to any quarry."
The result of purchasing new Keestrack equipment led to Hoults quarry growing substantially. Going from producing 400 ton a day to 300 ton an hour has allowed Hoults to diversify their business and service markets they could not before. Their capacity to take on jobs grew, giving them the freedom to take on contracts they would not have before and sell to the public. This, coupled with Hoults longstanding history and diversification, has allowed other parts of their business to constantly grow, which will see the company continue to scale with the years.