Growth from adversity

Growth from adversity - Contractor Mag - Oct 2017 - Featured Image

Canterbury firm Bond Earthworks is an ‘earthquake company’ – established in response to the huge workload in the region following the quakes, the company continues to grow. 

BOND EARTHWORKS is a company born of the Canterbury earthquakes. Mark Bond had been working in the civil construction industry for 15 years when the disaster struck. Having harboured a desire to go out on his own for years, the mammoth clean-up and repair work needed in the region provided the necessary impetus for him to open his own business.

In 2013, Mark and his wife Fiona, along with good friend Kahu Epiha, set up Bond Earthworks. Mark describes the company as a firm with plenty of drive and passion for the industry. They undertake a variety of work, from repairing pot holes to roading projects and large commercial sites, and if required, travel the country with equipment in tow.

They have recently completed work in the Auckland region for various contractors, and have been developing the Christchurch cycle ways for Higgins construction.

“Our clients at Downer have also kept us very busy,” says Mark. “We’ve done large asphalt works in Hokitika and Greymouth.”

They’re even looking at work overseas, and are currently pricing a joint venture in Papua New Guinea.

“There’s certainly a lot on.”

Mark leads the firm as owner-operator, while Fiona, in the tried and tested form of many construction wives around the country, takes care of the books. Kahu exited the company just two years after its inception due to a back injury. At that time, the business needed a hands-on approach by all, so Kahu made the choice to stand down until his back healed. He’s now back working alongside Mark as the surfacing manager.

The team numbers 19 in total, and the business is split into a civil side and an asphalting side.

The asphalting team has recently added a new Vögele Super 1703-3 paver from the Wirtgen Group to its fleet.

“We chose Vögele because of the excellent reputation it has,” he says. “As an operator, I know they perform the task to a very high standard and, having worked with Vögele pavers before, I know it was the right choice for our work.

Vögele says the compact size of the paver in the 8-foot class makes it ideal for commercial and municipal applications.

The 1703-3 has an intuitive operating system, which provides maximum visibility and comfort for the operator. It boasts high paving speeds – up to 76 metres per minute – something that Mark says suited his company’s needs.

“The versatility in speed of spread suited our needs, and it can pave from 2.45 metres width up to 4.75 metres, and even up to 5.3 metres with an easy to fit extension,” says Mark. “They take about 10-12 minutes to fit each side, which is ideal for our work.”

With drive options (6×4 and 6×6), Vögele says the Super 1703-3 is a versatile machine, with plenty of power and high mobility to handle the most varied paving jobs, even in confined spaces.

Mark says the paver can spin around on the spot.

The Super 1703-3 also comes with the latest version of the Vögele operating system, ErgoPlus 3, which has been enhanced with a number of new ergonomic and functional features. With its new mounting system, the paver operator’s console can be shifted conveniently and easily between the right and left sides of the operator’s stand during operation. ErgoPlus 3 also offers unobstructed operator visibility of the material hopper, auger tunnel and screed.

In addition, it now has a large colour display that ensures good readability even in poor lighting conditions.

Vögele trainer Jason Allen says that the paver now features user-friendly multi cell sonic sensors that allow a more accurate paving job.

“The 1703-3 has a built-in LED light, giving the operator adequate lighting in the area where the sensor is running,” he says. “There are LED levelling system indicators on the front and side of the sensor so the operator knows the height of the sensor from the ground and what the levelling system is doing – not only from the screed mounted control but the sensor as well.”

The Super Series 1700 and 2000 range of tried and tracked pavers are new offerings from Wirtgen Group company Vögele. Previously, Vögele offered a European style paver (the Super Series) and an American style paver (Vision Series). The American-style pavers were heavy, higher output, lower efficiency and higher thirst, while the European-style pavers have smart technology that makes them easier and cheaper to operate.

By combining the European technology with the American-style paving machines, the new Super Series offers lower noise, more fuel-efficient machines with automated functions that operators can use to accelerate paver set up and pack up.

Mark says the new paver is living up to his expectations.

“It’s performing really well,” he says. “It lays a nice even mat.”

That being said, he admits they’re still getting to know the 1703-3 and are putting the new features to the test.

“It’s pretty sophisticated, but we’re getting there. We’re very happy with it.”

Mark is also very happy with the level of service and support he has received from Mark Joubert, Sales Manager at Wirtgen, who provided the machine, and Jason Allen, who is an instructor for the operation of Vögele pavers.

“Mark and Jason have been really good to deal with. They’ve been very supportive.”

Going forward, the plan for Bond Earthworks is slow and steady growth.

“We want to stay in the market we’re in,” says Mark. “I do have aspirations to grow but I want to be sensible about it. A lot of sleepless nights were had to get where we are now – we started on the smell of an oily rag and with a lot of good mates’ help.

“I’m a third generation contractor – my father Trevor and his father Harry were in the industry, and a number of family are too – but I’m the first to use the Bond name to go into business 
for myself.

“I’m excited for what the future holds.”

This article first appeared in Contractor October 2017.

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