Northern Territory contractor Rick Erkelens has built a successful family contracting business based around a fleet of Komatsu dozers which he says are "unbeatable" for their reliability, comfort, stability and their ripping and pushing abilities.
His company, Rick Erkelens Earthmoving, whichtoday he and his wife Cheryl run with their son Jesse, owns five Komatsu dozers: a D275A-5, aD155A-6, two D85As aD85EO-15 and a D85A-21 and a newD65EX-16 delivered in March.
Rick started the company around2000, when he moved from Gove toBatchelor in the Northern Territory,100 km from Darwin, and purchased a used Komatsu dozer.
"We started off with one secondhand dozer, and now we've got five dozers,ranging from the D65 right through to the D275, and we do all kinds ofearthmoving and clearing," said Rick.
"Anything a dozer can do, we do it.
"I think the reason I picked dozers is because they tend to be ineverybody's too-hard basket soI have a bit of an exclusive line-up here," he said.
The Erkelens' fleet works all over the Territory and into the far northof Western Australia.
"We've currently got one of our D85sjust over the West Australian border at Coyote Gold mine in the Tanami Desert.
"For mining customers, we dogeneralmining work, mine production throughto rehabilitation, exploration work,drill pads, and all general mine duties," said Rick.
"But the bulk of our work at presentcivil;we'redoing a lot of work for BMD, developing suburbs around Darwin."
The company has just started to integrate machinecontrol technology with its dozers, purchasing aTopcon dozer system for its new D65.
"We have got to move with the times, and Jesse really pushes technology because, being of the younger generation, he really wants that to goahead," Rick said.
Rick has stuck with Komatsu dozers because hebelieves they are far and away the best available.
"I think they're great dozers," he said.
"They've got great ripping and pushing ability, anda great centre of gravity, which makes them terrificon batters and slopes, so I feel very comfortablehandling any sort of work with them.
"They're very, very reliable; they're very tough, and if you're a good operator they're very comfortable.
"The idea that they're uncomfortable has beenbandied around a lot, and I think it's mainly due tothe operatoror lack of operator experience," Rick said.
"And as far as reliability goes, I don't think you can beat a Komatsu."
Rick's also finding Komatsu's service and support is improving all the time.
"Their service is getting really good. Komatsu is becoming more and more competitive and theyrealize that to have the edge, they need to havegood back up.
"Certainly, I have had dramas in the past but not in recent times," he said.
"I know well that they've bent over backwards tohelp me, and I appreciate that.
"Colin Brindle [Komatsu Australia's Western Region Sales Manager, Construction & Utility] has alwaysbeen a real big help and I've got a lot of faith inhim," Rick said.
"In the past, we've mainly done our ownmaintenance, but now Komatsu is getting moreand more involved in our business.
"I find them helpful, I find them efficient; I haven't got any bad things to say about them," he said.