New opportunities grow from used equipment

WesTrac Used Equipment has helped Western Australian contractor Thomas Contracting access machines faster and saved them money.

WesTrac Used Equipment has helped Western Australian contractor Thomas Contracting access machines faster and saved them money.

But the company tends to be selective, preferring Cat® Certified Used (CCU) equipment whenever possible.

Of Thomas Contracting’s fleet of machines only two are not Cat, with plans to swap out the remaining two for the preferred yellow in the future. Nearly half the fleet was purchased as used equipment.

For Thomas Contracting Workshop Manager Drew Fletcher, who has been with the company for eight years, there’s a range of benefits to buying under the CCU program.

“Availability is a big part of the decision,” Drew said.

“Plus, some equipment will come to us already mine spec’d which helps us get it to site without delay. We always go for low-hour machines and know they’re backed by a Cat Certified Used protection plan.”

Drew from Thomas Contracting with Darren Hall from WesTrac

CCU fits the strategy

The CCU program, run by WesTrac, requires equipment to meet a rigorous set of criteria.

According to WesTrac Used Equipment and Rental Business Manager Darren Hall, the CCU process starts with equipment that has low hours and has been well maintained.

“All machines then go through a comprehensive check involving up to 140 inspection points,” Darren said.

“If anything is found to be worn or compromised in any way, we replace it with genuine Cat parts, so customers know they are starting with a machine that we’re prepared to put our reputation behind.”

The strategy has obviously worked for Thomas Contracting.

According to Drew, the company has doubled its fleet over the past eight years and expanded its focus. “Thomas Contracting was founded in 2001 with a single dozer. To be successful, Ben Thomas knew he had to find a niche,” Drew said.

Since then, the scope of works has grown significantly and today Thomas Contracting is involved in a broad range of mining, exploration and earthworks projects, ranging from property development to mine site works and major government funded expansions.

The fleet has also grown from the initial dozer and track type loaders that were added a short time later, to now include scrapers, graders and rollers among other equipment.

Drew says the company has a definite preference for Cat machines, thanks to the reliability and level of support offered.

“Ben was an advocate for Caterpillar® and I backed him, having worked as a plant mechanic focused on Cat machinery in the past,” he said.

“The level of service, access to dealerships and overall reliability of Cat equipment outweighs the rest. Others in the market don’t have anything like the infrastructure that WesTrac does.”

It is that level of service and Caterpillar reliability that encouraged Thomas Contracting to opt for CCU equipment. In addition, the flexibility provided by having local WesTrac service technicians was a big bonus.

One of the company’s most recent purchases was a Cat D9T dozer, which had been bought from Caterpillar by an overseas customer but sat unused on a warehouse floor until it was resold.

Thomas Contracting was quick to snap it up, knowing technicians could carry out the necessary checks onsite, it was delivered directly from the wharf to the Thomas Contracting workshop.

“We were confident we were getting a machine that was as new, had been imported according to all regulatory requirements and could be put to work in the shortest possible time,” Drew said.

CCU increases resale value

Darren says the CCU offering works both ways and Thomas Contracting has also used it to sell equipment.

“We’ve previously purchased a Cat 329DL hydraulic excavator from Thomas Contracting,” Darren said.

“It’s a very easy way for operators to do business. We lead them through the transaction, complete all the necessary checks and take away the burden of them having to deal with enquiries and do after-sales follow-ups.

“They can also rest assured they are carrying out a safe and secure transaction.”

Drew agrees, adding that the sales process is simplified because WesTrac maintains records with information on all maintenance and repairs that have been carried out.

“It’s very much a painless process,” he said. “WesTrac does a fair assessment, which we know is fair because they know we’ve maintained the machine and they have all the data that’s been captured over its operating life.

“Then we get paid in full and don’t have to chase part payments, plus we know our equipment is going on to benefit someone else.

“For buyers, they’re still putting up big dollars to buy used equipment, particularly if they’re just starting out, so they need to reduce their risk and know they’re backed by a dealer and have appropriate warranties in place.”

Darren says CCU plans are only available through Cat dealers and include backup support directly from Caterpillar.

“Warranty coverage can be varied based on equipment age, hours and even allows owners to pick which components should be covered to suit their specific needs,” he said.

“Ultimately, customers can minimise operational risk by having a similar level of warranty that they’d receive for a new machine.”

For more information on Cat Certified Used Equipment, click below.

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