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20 08 Terra Cat 022

Ryan Contractors has recently invested in a tough-yet-compact Cat 306 CR. Cat’s Next Generation mini excavator is right at home in the fleet of this well-regarded multi-generational family business.

Ryan Contractors Ltd’s Gerard Ryan believes there is a certain cyclical aspect to success in the civil contracting game, and in a way it all comes back to the machinery employed to walk the talk.

“Utilising quality equipment leads to the ability to tender for quality projects, assuring quality results for the client and opening up the opportunity to invest in more quality equipment,” he says.

“Over the years, the tangible value of utilising good gear has been brought home to us. Several years back we bought into a smaller existing company and inherited a lot of their older gear. Maintaining the machines and making sure they all remained productive on the job site was hard yakka: it really felt like one issue after another with those machines.

“We realised then that if you invest in good equipment, it’ll pay dividends in the long term. You’ll save on maintenance, you’ll have the ability to work harder and smarter, and that’ll cement your reputation in what is always going to be a competitive industry.”

A fourth-generation civil contractor (with sons Ethan, Paddy and Angus, who are all part of the 15-strong Ryan Contractors team, making up the fifth generation), Gerard grew up with Cat equipment as a component of both his father’s and grandfather’s earthmoving businesses. Cat dozers, loaders and excavators were a common sight in the yard over the years and remain so for Gerard today.

“I’ve been running Cat equipment for many years and have always looked to their loaders for consistency: it’s the same story with Cat excavators. We also have a 50kVA Cat generator; they really build dependable pieces of equipment whatever that equipment might be,” he says.

There are currently three Cat excavators on the Christchurch-based firm’s fleet: a Cat 315F which was purchased around three years ago was joined by a new Cat 310 last year. Now Gerard has bolstered his Cat line-up with another model from the new next generation Cat mini excavator range, a 6.5-ton Cat 306CR, which has gone straight into service at the large University of Canterbury Garden Hall student accommodation project at Ilam.

“The Southbase Construction-led halls of residence build at the University of Canterbury is pretty typical of the sort of inground service project work we perform,” continues Gerard.

“These worksites are generally large scale, but complex and often with restrictive access. That’s why we really like the six-to-10-ton Cat excavator range. Across the board these machines offer plenty of power matched with smaller dimensions. Also, when you’re dealing with drainage like we do, your excavator is needed as much for lifting as it is digging, and even the smallest machine we have meets our needs when we’re completing sump installs and the like.”

In fact, Gerard’s latest acquisition, the Cat 306 CR, delivers an impressive 67% more lift capacity than the outgoing Cat 305.5 E2CR, as well as boasting 25% more horsepower and a 20% overall improvement in fuel efficiency. The new addition to the Cat range also offers up the same horsepower from its Cat C2.4 turbodiesel engine as the larger Cat 307.5 CR but weighs over 500kg less and boasts a deeper maximum dig depth than its 8.2-ton sibling.

Terra Cat product manager BCP, James Lundy, says the Cat 306 CR essentially gives contractors like Gerard the capabilities of a larger 7-to-8-ton excavator within a more compact frame.

“No one else is manufacturing a machine like this right now. You have a machine that sits close to the 7-ton bracket with the sort of available power and technological features you’d expect from a bigger machine. But with its 1980mm width, customers can still utilise the Cat 306 CR on tight urban construction sites and get it comfortably into a truck for transportation,” he says.

“The new next-generation Cat mini excavator range has already made a big impact on the industry. Despite the challenges 2020 has posed, Terra Cat has already delivered plenty of these new machines to customers and they have been very well received.

“We have also continued to deliver on our comprehensive back-up commitment to customers, no matter where they are based around the country.”

Gerard says he is genuinely impressed with the latest Cat 310 and 306 CR.

“They just so bloody clever! They are really smart machines in terms of their usability. Being able to have different operators set up different hydraulic flow rates, or switch between lever and pedal control or joystick control are excellent features in any machine, let alone a small digger.

“The cabs are comfy with good heating and air conditioning and there is a great amount of outward vision too, which is very important. From what we’ve seen the fuel burn is also very efficient. Across the board the attention-to-detail here is excellent; you can’t fault the Cat product that’s for sure.”

As part of its ability to support customers through thick and thin, James says the wider spread of parts commonality for its next generation Cat mini excavators has also proven something of a game-changer.

“For Terra Cat as a distributor, like-for-like componentry across the Cat mini excavator range means we can ensure our customers have access to replacement part servicing much quicker. We’re better placed to provide a part immediately, regardless of the specific tonnage of the excavator that needs it. This has held true right through the Lockdown interruptions that our clients have been faced with this year as well.”

Quality machines backed by quality customer support: all part of that cyclical theory that Gerard subscribes to.

“Even during a ‘normal’ year, running a business and remaining viable can be tough work,” he concludes.

“There are a lot of obligations on business owners in the construction industry: from health and safety to environmental impact to simply doing a good job for the client. If you have dependable machinery like the Cat excavator range, backed up by people who know their stuff like Terra Cat, then that makes everything that much easier day-to-day.

“That factor has real value to me, as both a business owner and as part of a team working towards a common goal.”