Porter Press Extra: Savco Vegetation Services

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Randall Johnston

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  • Earthmovers & Excavators

Savco Vegetation Services has a big machine fleet that is required to travel some big distances. It’s all in a day’s work for this busy family firm, aided by some of the company’s latest additions to the frontline machine fleet: two new Hyundai excavators supplied by Porter Equipment.

Savco Vegetation Services is using a 29-ton Hyundai R290LC-9 and an eight-ton Hyundai R80CR-9 mini digger

You can’t talk about Ipswich-headquartered Savco Vegetation Services without mentioning some big numbers.

This family-run company – celebrating its 43rd year in business in 2020 – has grown to employ over 150 staff across no less than seven depot locations.

Despite the Queensland roots, Savco now has a foothold right across the east coast of the country, from Tumut, New South Wales in the south, to Rockhampton in the north and in various locations in between. All told, the company covers Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria comprehensively, representing an impressive growth trajectory since Les Savige founded the firm in 1977.

Specialising in rural vegetation services including powerline and gas pipeline clearance, land clearance and shelterbelt and hedge trimming, the distinct through-line with each Savco site is its rural setting, servicing the needs of local landowners and councils.

The distances the company’s field teams often travel in the course of a day’s work can be massive.

The excavators are often used to clear foliage and feed it into large-scale horizontal grinders

Want another big number? The company runs a fleet of over 150 machines. Because of the nature of the work, much of the gear is specialised to suit, including truck-mounted elevated work platforms, tractor slashers and purpose-built spray vehicles.

Among all the industry-specific hardware, however, there remains room for a handful of conventional excavators.

"Our excavator fleet isn’t big, but like all of our gear, we want to make sure we’re buying good equipment," says Savco’s Queensland manager Simon Savige.

"We have two Hyundai excavators supplied to us by Porter Equipment on the fleet: a 29-ton Hyundai R290LC-9, which replaced a similar-sized older machine, and an eight-ton Hyundai R80CR-9 mini digger, which we’ve brought in as an additional machine. We’ve been very pleased with the performance of both those machines."

Savige says he has been impressed with both the advice and assistance Porter Equipment were able to give his team when purchasing the machines, as well as the back-up service offering the distributor is well known for.

The Hyundai R80CR-9 is repairing firebreak tracks in bushland

"Our depots are generally a fair way from a major town, so we will be relying on Porter Equipment’s mobile servicing team when it comes time for those regular services to be completed. If they can come to us, that takes the pressure off our guys to get the individual machines to another point beyond wherever the job has already taken them.

"We already cover large areas, so to be able to schedule in with the Porter guys and say ‘Yep, we’re at this location today’ and have them come to us, then that’s great," says Savige.

Of the machines themselves, Savige is a big believer in sound endorsements from other operators.

"Look, it would be very easy to go and buy machines from brands that some might consider household names. But actually, when you do your research, Hyundai has got everything the other diggers have got; they’ve got the wide range of models, they’ve got the powerful engines, the spacious cabs – especially that 29-tonner, which is fantastic – and the built-in technology.

"I actually noticed a couple of big corporates investing in Hyundai equipment and you have to take note of that sort of thing. If they’re going that way, then there has to be a good reason for it. So yeah, I think they’re a strong machine and we’re putting them through their paces now."

Savco’s Queensland manager Simon Savige says rehab work is a common project

Savco Vegetation Services have plenty of work ahead of them in the wake of the devastating 2019/20 bush fires.

The Hyundai R290LC-9 is working in Batlow, on the edge of the Great Dividing Range between Canberra and Wagga Wagga, in some of the worst-affected hill country. Savige’s brother, Anthony, is the company’s New South Wales manager and will be overseeing this project, among many others nearby.

"We’ve been using the 29-tonner up there to clear out some pretty massive trees along the fire front.

"We’re using it to mechanically fell damaged trees; some of them are over 80 years old, so they’re of a decent size. You need to have a lot of hydraulic strength to complete that sort of work, and the guys tell me the Hyundai is working well," says Savige.

The scale of the fire damage aside, Savige says rehab work of this nature is a common project for the Savco team, and the excavators are often used to clear foliage and feed it into large-scale horizontal grinders.

Illustrating the breadth of scale involved when it comes to the combined regions Savco services, the Hyundai R80CR-9 is heading over 1,100km north, to help repair firebreak tracks in bushland near Chinchilla in Queensland’s Western Downs, around two hours north-west of Toowoomba.

"The Hyundais are good machines with all the latest technology in them, and we got them for a good price, so I’m happy with that," Simon concludes.

And there’s no truer assertion than that, regardless of where you are in the country.

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