Ridley oversees a range of excavation work – from Tier 1 projects through to subdivision, backyard garage slabs and footings jobs – wife Prue takes care of the administration side of the business, and kids Taj and Mishca help out by cleaning the equipment and vehicles on weekends.
Describing his approach and day-to-day functions of the business, Ridley told EEM, “We love working on the Tier 1 road projects and we love working under pressure,” adding that, “if there is dirt to be dug or moved, we will do it”.
The origins of Justin Ridley Excavations, which operates out of Thornton in Maitland, NSW, date back to 2014, with Ridley, who was “born and bred in the Maitland area”, reflecting that he had at the time begun asking himself what was holding him back from taking the reins of his own business.
“I was sitting in someone else’s machine, looking at it and thinking, ‘what’s stopping me from doing this myself?’” 35-year-old Ridley commented. “The business started with just me and a 14-tonne excavator.”
Ridley has since been steadily building his business, putting in the hard yards required to establish a presence in the region and navigating the various challenges presented by different projects, while also taking on the many additional responsibilities that come with being a business owner.
Of course, it helps that he can draw on a decade of experience in the industry and has a passion for his work. In his words, he is “just an ordinary bloke trying to make a dollar”, and he points to both the variety of the work and the range of people his business works with as being a major attraction of the industry, which provide the potential to tackle “something different every day”.
“We are there to make their job easier,” Ridley explained of his approach to projects. “If we have to stay back five minutes or five hours to complete a job or to make sure the program is on track, we will – and, most importantly, our experienced operators at the end of the day are the ones in the seat.
“We are currently working on the CPB Contractors M1 Pacific Motorway widening between Tuggerah and Doyalson, which we absolutely love, and other bits of gear are currently being used across other subdivision work.”
Complementing his versatile, can-do attitude, Ridley noted that the business’ “equipment is our biggest asset”, with Justin Ridley Excavations counting Kobelco’s SK55SRX-6 mini-excavator and SK135SR-5 midi-excavator among the recent additions to its fleet.
Primed for powerful digging performance and travel power, the compact SK55SRX-6, which features Kobelco’s iNDr cooling system delivering low noise and dust reduction, is decked out with a larger boom and arm to ensure a wider working range, with a short tail swing allowing for operation in a limited space.
The SK135SR-5 sports a Stage 4-compliant engine, and is also decked out with Kobelco’s iNDr system, with a minimal swing radius improving efficiency, and its compact design providing for continuous 180-degree dig, swing and load operations within a 3.49m working space.
“The SK135SR-5 with Trimble GPS has been placed on a Tier 1 project, and right down to the Doherty power tilt hitch makes our job easier and us as operators more efficient,” Ridley commented.
He told EEM that Kobelco has “bent over backwards” to accommodate his business, and pointed to machine dependability as a critical factor in his decision to use Kobelco machines.
“We choose to use Kobelco as our preferred machine for their reliability, as this is incredibly important in our industry, and it is something that Kobelco lead the way with,” he commented. “Reliability, fuel efficiency and operator comfort are important factors, and in my opinion Kobelco is one of the industry leaders.”
Ridley credits Gato Sales and Repairs, a Kobelco dealer for Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast of NSW, “for their 110 per cent commitment to their product”.
“I would actually like to take this opportunity to really thank Chad, Tyson, Dylan and the whole team at Gato Sales and Repairs,” he said.
“There is never an issue as to where, when and what time a service will be undertaken, their back-up service is unbelievable, and being able to contact them directly for anything I need makes a massive difference.
“I have had numerous phone conversations with Tyson about the areas I want to improve on in my business, and he is more than happy to take the time to listen and provide me with the relevant information. They are my one-stop shop for everything I need for all my machines.”