Long-established civil construction business Scarbro have recently added a second Sunward SWE230E excavator to their fleet and the Ed went along to find out more Not many private businesses can lay claim to having a pedigree stretching back to the 1800s, and the number of contracting companies with that sort of family lineage could probably be counted on one hand.
The Scarborough family’s business is one such example belonging to that heritage set; having its humble beginnings in the 1880s, when Ruben Scarborough established a transport business with horse buses carrying passengers from the Auckland suburb of Remuera to central city – a one-way trip being some seven kilometres from point to point. The business expanded into landscape and road building work, subsequently being passed to his son George, then through to George’s sons Alfred and Cecil who took over the business in the early 1940s. It was then up to Cecil’s son’s Brian and Ross to take over the reins (so to speak) in the 1970s, and the business continued to grow under their stewardship as it expanded into larger commercial projects as the urban sprawl of East Auckland started to make itself known. With the retirement of Ross, the dynamics changed once again with Brian’s sons Paul and Garry stepping into the role of leading the family business.
The Scarborough legacy continues with Paul’s son Liam now as the operations manager for the civil division. In 2017, and only a couple of kilometres away from where it started all those decades ago, the family name is stronger than ever, with civil works just one part of the diverse business that now includes residential and commercial construction, the latter being evidenced by the modernised Scarbro name on numerous tower cranes in the central city. Scarbro’s civil division have taken the jump not once but twice when they introduced Sunward SWE230E excavators into their fleet. Both machines tip the scales at 22.6 tonnes, and the first machine heading towards the 1300-hour mark has been joined by a sister machine that has just started work in an Auckland quarry.
Clearly, taking the financial road when purchasing machinery requires steadfast brand loyalty to be closely considered, but company director Paul Scarborough feels the move is largely a positive one. “We thought long and hard about purchasing the first Sunward machine but found it hard to discount the numerous advantages it offered,” he says. Along with the purchase price being attractive, Paul points out that the machine’s construction is essentially a combination of well-known brand manufacturers. “The undercarriage’s parts are interchangeable with Komatsu, pumps are by Kawasaki, and it has an Isuzu engine. “When the main parts of a machine are made by those people, then replacements will be cost-effective if we ever require them,” he says. Following on, Paul says one problem they have is the high price of replacement parts for their existing fleet of well-known brand machines. “Sure, our other machines will probably have a higher resale value due to brand popularity over the Sunward, but when you take into account the purchase price differential and add the price of replacement parts over the life of a machine, I’m of the opinion that we’ll probably see a better return from the Sunward’s overall,” he says.
On the sometimes tender point of operator brand preferences, Paul says he has not had any negative feedback from staff. “Everyone has a particular soft spot for certain brands and generally this has been ingrained from a young age. “I’m finding our operators are keen to try out the Sunwards, and it is good for them to form their own opinions.” Endraulic Equipment is the New Zealand distributor of the Sunward brand, and company director Blair Sargison says feedback helps improve the offering to clients. “We want to make the machines as operator-friendly as possible. The latest version includes a rear-view camera and a number of other tweaks that came about from operator feedback,” he says.
One reason Scarbro Civil decided to go with Endraulic is the long association between the two businesses. “We have purchased Mustang skid steers from Endraulic for many years, so our relationship goes back a long way. Another reason is that I can phone up and actually speak to the owner of the business, which is virtually unheard of these days,” Paul says. “They are real decent people to deal with and more than anything this is why we decided to show others that these Sunward machines are worth looking at.” When a testimonial like that comes from a long-term construction services provider such as Scarbro, it is probably safe to say one should take note. In fact, it perhaps would pay to highlight it with a yellow marker pen.