Access Tec clears the way with Cat equipment

Access Tec’s recent purchase of a Cat® 309 CR Mini Excavator and HM210 mulcher is making the team’s land-clearing work easier than ever. In this new story, Earthmoving Equipment Magazine catches up with Access Tec’s Don Downey and our team to learn more.

This story was produced by Caterpillar and originally published as an interview case study in Earthmoving Equipment Magazine. It has been republished (with permission from EEM) here by WesTrac in July 2023.

Don Downey, owner of multi-faceted Sydney civil works company Access Tec, is a straight talker. He loves land clearing work, and he’s not ashamed to say so.

“We started Access Tec back in 2019 as a plant mechanic business, and over the years we’ve progressed into owning machinery and carrying out a bit of wet and dry hire,” he says.

“We carry out a lot of civil works, as well as a lot of land clearing. A lot of our customers were involved in land vegetation management, so that’s how we ended up getting into it. And I absolutely love it.”

Don says the work can be especially rewarding, particularly when given the chance to really transform somebody’s home.

“We did a job in Razorback recently, where a customer had a beautiful city view from her property, but she couldn’t actually see it through all these trees,” he says.

“We came in and just cleared it all out, and I’ve never seen someone so happy. It just looked amazing.”

The right tools for the job

Access Tec’s latest acquisition is a 9-tonne Cat 309 CR Mini Excavator packaged with an HM210 Mulcher – a package designed specifically for efficient forestry management. Don says his existing relationship with WesTrac made the process very easy.

“We bought our first Cat machine from WesTrac in 2020, a 1.7-tonner, and it’s just progressed from there,” Don says.

Nina Zeidan, WesTrac Product Advisor for Cat Attachments, says the purchase process was a good example of WesTrac’s commitment to pairing customers with the right product for their needs.

“Don was originally looking at a larger 15-tonne machine,” she says. “We got talking about landscaping attachments, what exactly was possible, and ended up coming up with a different solution.”

Nina recommended Don consider the smaller 9-tonne Cat 309 CR paired with a Cat HM210 mulcher, advice that Don ultimately followed.

“Traditionally, councils and land management operators have utilised 15–20-tonne excavators for clearing with a mulcher,” Nina says. “While there’s no dispute over their ability, those machines can be harder to manoeuvre in tighter access fire trails, and aren’t set up for tracking while mulching at the same time.

“The 309 and the HM210 are made for each other. It’s a high-flow mulcher, and the 309 has the dedicated auxiliary pump, which means there is no lag when travelling while working with the mulcher at full flow. You’re able to finish your job quicker and access tighter areas that you couldn’t with a 15-tonne machine.

“As a lighter machine, you can also carry it on a tip tray, which is something you couldn’t do with a larger machine.

“It was the perfect solution for him,” Nina says. “He took a leap of faith, and the results speak for themselves.”

“A feature that sold this machine the most was having that dedicated hydraulic pump to run the mulcher,” Don adds. “I’ve had this machine going up against some other bigger machines on work sites, and this thing just out-runs all of them.”

Roberto Manna, Access Tec’s local WesTrac rep, then worked with Don to customise the excavator to a forestry spec machine.

“For Access Tec’s requirements, the 309 was the perfect fit, especially with the HM210 mulcher going onto it,” Roberto says. “The cab is very well protected, it’s got window guards, and a thick polycarbonate front window to stop any potential hazard flying out of the mulcher.

“There’s a Cat tilt hitch fitted as well, so they can get the angles right when mulching on batters and embankments. Access Tec does a lot of roadside work, so having the rubber pads on the tracks is very handy and versatile too.”

Peak condition

Roberto says the key to getting the best out of any machine is to make sure you’re looking after it properly and keeping up with maintenance.

“The good thing with Don is he has operators that treat his machines as their own,” he says. “This machine has done quite a few hours of mulching now, but it’s still in immaculate condition.”

As well as a 3000-hour premier warranty, Roberto says extra support coverage is available through FitFleet® Customer Value Agreements (CVAs).

“We offer FitFleet Essentials with every machine purchase,” Roberto says. “With Essentials, we consistently monitor the machines from our end, and notify customers when servicing is due, or any other issues that may arise.”

For Access Tec’s 309, Roberto says Don opted to upgrade to FitFleet Plus, which includes the supply of genuine Cat parts for a flat monthly fee.

“We have Travis Austin as our product support rep, and he’s been absolute amazing,” Don says. “Any issues we have, he’s straight onto it and sorts it out really quickly.”

Roberto says WesTrac’s service coverage across New South Wales is a big part of what keeps customers coming back to WesTrac and Cat machines.

“We’ve got a large fleet of field service guys, we’ve got parts on hand, and distribution centres and warehouses – including a 24-hour parts warehouse in Newcastle,” he says.

“We also have dedicated people in positions that look after specialty areas, from forestry to paving. So, we’ve got great coverage across all our products. And the product speaks for itself, performance-wise – productivity, fuel efficiency, and cost of maintenance – when you package all that up, you can see that it’s very well worth the investment.”

“I’ve been really happy with the support,” Don says. “WesTrac has helped us out a lot. The finance packages have been really easy to deal with and the Cat machines have been reliable. So, we’ll always come back because of that.”

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