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Loaders, loyalty withstand sands, time


If the durability of a fleet of Volvo wheel loaders amongst sand dunes and salted air over many years isn’t impressive enough, it pales in comparison to the partnership between the coastal sand producer and the plant distributor.

In the industry of premium quality fine sand, Macka’s Sand & Soil Supplies is a big name renowned for its top-shelf sand and soil products for the commercial, building/construction, glass and turfgrass industries locally and internationally. The pristine windblown sand is collected from the coastal region between Newcastle and Port Stephens, in northeastern New South Wales, where mountainous sand dunes stretch out as far as the eye can see. 

Macka’s Sand & Soil Supplies is a family-run business set up by Robert Mackenzie and his father Bruce some three decades ago. Back in 1991, the plant consisted of a single 1830 Acco truck and a Case backhoe.

“I remember delivering sand at night after working a day job at ACI,” Mackenzie recalled. “I also remember sometimes having to shovel the sand off the back of the truck by hand if the site had an incline.”

Times have definitely changed from those humble beginnings. Macka’s Sand & Soil Supplies is now one of the largest operators on the east coast of Australia, moving two million tonnes of pristine Stockton sand per year. Mackenzie’s two sons have also joined the company, “All things considered it is working out great,” Mackenzie said. “Of course, at times, family businesses can have their challenges, but generally things have been going great with my boys.”

When asking Mackenzie about the main focus of Macka’s Sand & Soil and a little bit of his history, he said: “The main focus of the business is pushing out a high quality, cost-effective product into the building/construction industry, glass industries and turfgrass soils. Being located on the coastline behind the Stockton Beach area, we are extracting the windblown dune sand along the edge of the coastal fringe. For me personally, I started out working in a sand mine called ACI when I was 18. I leased a block next door with an option to purchase when I was 20, and here we are today – one of the largest operators on the east coast of Australia moving two million tonnes per year.”

With mountainous dunes surrounding the operation, it’s easy to see how the team at Macka’s can move two million tonnes of sand consistently per year. With such sand substantial volumes being processed, there is an equally important requirement for the right machinery to re-move, screen, process and load into the queue of trucks delivering the sand products across NSW, Australia and abroad. Macka’s has exclusively run with Volvo machines for decades, and its relationship with CJD Equipment is as strong as the Volvo L220H wheel loaders that work tirelessly day in, day out on Macka’s operations. The efficiency of this outfit is truly impressive.

Mackenzie started out on a Volvo 120D, and after trying other brands while working for other outfits, he always found himself coming back to the Volvo machines. “The fuel efficiency and cost savings are great, but the essential factor for me was the operator comfort,” Mackenzie explained. “Our employees love driving them, and they stand up to the conditions and workloads. Our operators have always provided great feedback and reliability is second to none. Our Volvos and our relationship with CJD Equipment are an integral part of our success.”


When discussing Macka’s machines with Mackenzie and Michael Lombardo, the general manager of CJD Equipment NSW, it is evident that there has been some unique customisation developed to maximise the efficiencies of Macka’s vehicles. “It’s a pretty fast-moving pace on-site and the Volvos navigate in and around each other with precision manoeuvring that does justice to the skill and the hours that the operators put in,” Lombardo said.

Mackenzie says what sets him apart from his competition is his hands-on approach and operating hours to support the communities in his area. “Our hours of operation, hands-on approach and the desire to supply all industries that have a use for sand and soils is no doubt the secret to our success. We have also put a lot of importance in the value of working with the communities of our very important area,” he said.

Lombardo’s personal relationship with Macka’s goes back nearly 13 years with Mackenzie and his father Bruce, and with CJD Equipment’s relationship preceding even that, it is remarkable that such partnerships and loyalties have stood the test of time.

“It has been a pleasure to work with both Bruce and Rob over the last 12 years,” Lombardo said. “During this time, apart from supplying their machinery needs, we have worked together to deliver buckets that
meet the maximum efficiency requirement of their loaders. It’s this close type of relationship where we can go the extra mile
to meet our client’s expectations that we pride ourselves on here at CJD Equipment.

“Working in and around sand dunes and coastal salt air environments can be very hard on some machinery, but we have been thrilled with our Volvos’ ability to excel over long periods of time in these testing conditions.”

This is a fact that has been equally appreciated by the team at Macka’s Sand & Soil. “Rob has a mix of Volvos throughout his fleet. However, purchases over recent years have concentrated around the L220H series wheeled loader,” Lombardo explained. “There is a very close relationship with CJD Equipment and the Volvo product that Rob developed, and he has a wealth of knowledge and market intelligence about what is going on in his immediate area and the greater Newcastle region. Rob allows us to work collaboratively with him throughout his business, from the point of purchase and machine set-up through to the level of aftersales support we can offer him, resulting in maximum uptime.”

Owner/operator Robert Mackenzie (left) with CJD Equipment’s NSW general manager Michael Lombardo.

Source: CJD Equipment

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