Styles Civil and Construction
Styles and substance
Up-and-coming Melbourne construction and hire business Styles Civil and Construction has been in the game for just over a year, but it hasn’t taken the team long to work out the benefits of investing in quality machinery. Earthmoving Equipment Magazine chats to co-founders Jacob and Christian Styles to find out why they choose Kobelco excavators.
One thing is abundantly clear from the second you step onto a Styles Civil and Construction worksite – brothers Jacob and Christian Styles, and the small team they lead, absolutely love what they do.
Having only pivoted to the civil construction game recently, the brothers take to their work with the sort of gleeful I can’t believe we get paid to do this enthusiasm that elevates everyone around them.
Based in Heathcote Junction – an hour north of Melbourne – the business offers a diverse range of civil and construction services, from carpentry to basic earthworks and landscaping.
“About a year and half ago, I was running a bit of a backyard hiring business with my wife,” Jacob says. “We were just hiring out trailers, generators, and a few other things. But Christian had been nagging me for a while to get an excavator.”
After a bit of back and forth, and discussions with their families, the Styles brothers decided that taking a punt on earthmoving was well worth a shot.
“We went out and bought an entry level machine to get us started,” Christian says.
“And that snowballed into where we are today with four machines, a truck, and a wide range of attachments.”
Building on Christian’s background as a qualified carpenter, Jacob’s telecommunications engineering background, and with tireless support from Jacob’s wife Kasey Styles and Christian’s partner Arabella Laudisio, Styles Civil and Construction has continued to go from strength to strength.
“The main thing we’re enjoying is just being two brothers having a crack, working together, and making something of ourselves – we’re pretty proud of that,” Jacob says.
“Day-to-day, we’re always in different places, doing different jobs, different tasks. We’re pretty diverse, so that keeps it enjoyable.”
“About 10 months ago, after hiring out our budget excavator for a couple of months, we realised the demand was there,” Christian says. “So, we started looking for somewhere to get another 1.7-tonne machine. We made calls to quite a few places, and we kept getting put on wait lists and then not getting calls back.”
But it was through this process that local Kobelco dealer Melbourne Tractors stood out from the pack. While excavator stock was still thin on the ground, Melbourne Tractors kept in contact with the Styles brothers.
Jacob says that despite being such a small player in the industry, and having no existing relationship with the dealer, the Melbourne Tractors team took them seriously from the start.
This played a big part in the Styles brothers pulling the trigger on a 1.7-tonne Kobelco SK17SR-6 excavator once available – their first Kobelco, but not their last.
“Having that level of support from the very start was great,” Jacob says. “Today, we still only have two machines, but we’re still treated like we’re a big part of Melbourne Tractors’ business.”
Since then, Jacob and Christian’s decision to upgrade from their entry level machine has been a big win for them.
With Kobelco, you don’t have that worry about the machines in the back of your mind. And we know if we need to call Melbourne Tractors, we’re going to get an answer, and they’ll always do what they can to help.Christian Styles, Styles Civil and Construction
“The service has always been second to none.”
After their positive experience with their 1.7-tonne Kobelco, and with work demands and the brothers’ ambitions growing in step, Jacob and Christian soon decided it was time to upsize.
The two were originally eyeing a jump up the range to a 4.5-tonne cabbed Kobelco excavator, but stock was not immediately available. Not to be dissuaded, the brothers pivoted: they placed their order for the 4.5-tonne machine, and jumped on an available 3.5-tonne SK35SR-6 as well.
But far from a compromise, the SK35SR-6 has provided a substantial productivity boost, but with the benefits of a compact footprint.
“That step up is helping us get our basic tasks done a lot quicker,” Jacob says. “We’re glad we made that move.”
“It’s got plenty of power, and the controls are smooth,” adds Christian. “It’s a really nice machine to sit in.”
The Styles brothers’ local Melbourne Tractors rep, Hayden Rae, says it’s been great to see the young business succeeding with the help of its Kobelco machinery.
“Looking after smaller family businesses is how Melbourne Tractors has grown and succeeded since the 1970s,” Hayden says.
“We’re a family-owned company just like Styles Civil, so it’s important to us that we look after these guys, make sure they’re cared for, and help them avoid downtime.”
Hayden says the feedback from Jacob and Christian on their Kobelco machines has been overwhelmingly positive, and he attributes much of this to a range of little details that don’t come across on a spec sheet.
With the 1.7-tonne SK17SR-6, the overall balance of the machine is really good,” he says. “It’s got just the right amount of power in the drive motor to take the machine up a hill and load in and out easily.Hayden Rae, Melbourne Tractors
“The zero-swing tail on the 1.7 is also a great feature for their applications. We know these guys will be able to keep it for as long as they need to, and when it comes time to trade it back in, the back end of it won’t be covered in scratches.”
Hayden says the SK17SR-6’s tracks can easily be retracted and extended, enabling further versatility for operation on tight worksites.
As for the new 3.5-tonne SK35SR-6, Hayden likes to think of it as Kobelco’s “big little machine”.
“It’s got a 1700mm track width, so you can fit it most places,” he says. “But you’ve also got the advantage of the long reach, as well as the three hydraulic pump system which allows you to prioritise power to the area that you need it – whether that’s digging, bulking and turning, or just tracking along with the two-speed tracking system.
“For the Styles team, this gives them the power to bulk more dirt and work more efficiently, while still being super fuel efficient.”
The next step
Both Jacob and Christian are excited about the prospect of growing bigger and better with the support of Melbourne Tractors and Kobelco.
“The sky’s the limit for us,” Jacob says. “We’ve taken a big gamble doing what we’re doing. But we’ve already gotten right out of our comfort zones, and we’re on the path to keep going.”
“And having Melbourne Tractors there to support us and supply quality Kobelco machines when we need them will help heaps,” Christian adds.
“It means we’ll have great machines to operate, it will help with the hire side of the business, and it’s going to help us get good operators in the future.