CONTRACTOR PROFILE: Susan Hadgkiss of Floating Excavators

By: Ron Horner

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

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

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Susan Hadgkiss with her Cat 311Cu

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.

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Cat 311Cu in rural QLD

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 street-smart 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.

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Tweed Heads canal weed management programme

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.

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Floating Excavators canal dredging

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 0408811026 for further information.

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

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Jack Fletcher

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