Mareeba Sands has been working away in far north Queensland for 12 years, sourcing sand and hauling it across the region. But as owner Ron Petersen told Quarry, a quality service like Mareeba relies on quality products from CJD Equipment.
“About 12 years ago we kicked off the business,” Petersen said. “I used to work for other quarries nearby and I was doing a job in the area we are now when I noticed there was plenty of sand lying about. So, I made an offer to the landowner saying we should be selling this stuff.
“He and I went into business, started off quite shakily and we progressed from there.”
The small business has cemented itself as a stalwart of the community, treating each customer like a friend or neighbour.
Petersen said his local reputation of more than three decades was a great help in getting the business off the ground at first, but the struggles of small business didn’t avoid Mareeba Sands.
“Because I’ve been working in earthmoving and quarrying for a long time in the area, people already knew who I was when I entered this business,” Petersen said.
“But the biggest challenge was still trying to win everybody over, even though people knew me and what I’d done. Also, with all of our permits, managing the landscape was another challenge as we tried to work within the guidelines.”
The Mareeba Sands site covers four different blocks, an hour west of Cairns, varying from 12 hectares (ha) up to 40ha.
Digging no further than three and a half metres deep, Mareeba Sands has been able to supply washed coarse sand, fill sand, fine sand, clay, and concrete pre-mix to customers across the region.
Using Petersen’s own truck and dog combo, plus some “subby” fleets on bigger jobs, Mareeba Sands has proudly developed a portfolio of happy customers.
“The biggest, most constant job would be sand for the previously done sewerage works for the Mareeba Shire Council. That was quite an extensive job for them,” Petersen said.
Other Mareeba Sands jobs have been in Chillagoe and Georgetown, up to 400 kilometres away.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the service and support of CJD Equipment, of which Petersen couldn’t speak highly enough.
“It’s been good dealing with CJD,” Petersen said. “When you first start with ordering something, you change your mind, you go home, you change your mind again.
“But the financing with CJD was brilliant, professional, and super quick to deal with. We changed our mind on something at lunchtime and got an email back in the afternoon saying we were good to go – try that with a bank!”
Petersen had been running an older Volvo EC210 excavator for about eight years at Mareeba Sands. The machine had totalled nearly 11,500 hours of operation.
After a more than serviceable stint from the old machine, Petersen decided it would be more cost-effective to look into an upgrade, instead of forking out more cash on repairs. So, in rolled the EC220D excavator and Petersen couldn’t have been happier with his decision.
“The EC210 was a reliable machine with brilliant fuel economy. We were extremely happy with its stability and performance. But the new EC220D is even better,” Petersen said.
The EC220D comes with a range of extras on the previous model which pleasantly surprised Petersen. They included an auto-greaser, seat covers, UHF radio, flashing light, windscreen guards, fall protection guards, handrails, reversing camera and a heavier counterweight.
In effect, Mareeba Sands has been allowed to run at full throttle, while saving a bit of cash on repairs and fuel.
“It’s doing everything I expected of it and that’s why I went with a Volvo once again,” Petersen said.
“The other reason is their fuel economy is like no other machine I’ve used. It would average between 14 and 16 litres per hour, depending on the application.”
And while all the trimmings can help a small business like Mareeba to excel for its community, sometimes a little bit of extra care and respect is all that’s needed to maintain a strong partnership.
Petersen attested to this and praised CJD Equipment and Volvo Construction Equipment for their ability to treat “little old Mareeba” as an equal.
“I was pretty impressed because, being a small operator, you’d think they’d hardly even see you,” Petersen said.
“You can imagine, they’ve got clients who’ve got 30 or 40 machines. So, for them to look after a small operator so well is something they can take their hat off to.” •
For more information about Volvo CE equipment, visit the CJD Equipment website: cjd.com.au
This article appears in the October issue of Quarry.