Case Study, Earthmoving Machinery, Excavators

Family foundations: El Dorado Contractors and Kobelco

Dom Serrano from El Dorado Contractors runs his business to optimise efficiency, flexibility, and family values. EEM learns why he’s chosen Kobelco excavators as the backbone of his operation.


In the competitive earthmoving world, El Dorado Contractors is testament to the enduring value of family, flexibility, and finding the right machinery for the job.

At the helm is Dom Serrano, a third-generation earthmover who is steering the business into the future, while preserving a connection to its rich past.

El Dorado’s Dom Serrano (left) and Melbourne Tractors’ Shaun Pollard. Image: Prime Creative Media

An earthmoving legacy

The foundations of the El Dorado business were laid more than 40 years ago by Dom’s grandfather. Today, its work is divided between two entities, though still under the same family banner.

“El Dorado started with my grandfather, Domenic Serrano, then the second generation was my dad John and my uncle Claude,” Dom says. “Now we’re into the third generation, with me and my best mate and business partner Renato Castro.

Specialising in basement excavations,
El Dorado Contractors offers comprehensive services from piling to cartage. Image: Prime Creative Media

“The family has always been involved in earthmoving, initially focused on the transport, subdivision, and civil side of things. Then we branched out on our own as El Dorado Contractors, specialising in basement excavation and full basement retention systems.

“We offer the complete package, from piling to steel fixing, excavation, concrete works, and cartage with our own trucks.”

This arrangement has allowed Dom and Renato to lean into their area of expertise, while remaining connected to the business established by Dom’s grandfather.

El Dorado Contractors’ workforce is cross-trained, ensuring flexibility on every project. Image: Prime Creative Media

“El Dorado Contractors is still part of the El Dorado group, so we’re maintaining the family legacy while operating as two separate companies,” he says.

According to Dom, his company’s success is rooted in its flexibility and adaptability – qualities reflected in his skilled team. Each member is cross-trained to handle various tasks, from operating machinery to steel fixing, to driving trucks.

This multi-skilled workforce enables El Dorado Contractors to pivot as needed, ensuring that no day is the same and every project receives the full attention it requires.

“Everyone can do everything,” Dom says. “And that means no time is wasted. Everyone can lend a hand when we need it, so if we need to get a project moving quickly, we can really knuckle down and get it done. We’ve found that’s been a real advantage for the business.”

The Kobelco SK380XD is equipped for the toughest jobs and maximum productivity. Image: Prime Creative Media

The Kobelco generation

One area of the business where Dom and Renato have forged their own path has been the machinery they use. And drawing on his experience operating a range of brands throughout his career, Dom decided on Kobelco as his excavator manufacturer of choice for El Dorado Contractors.

“I’ve always liked how Kobelco machines operated, so when we had the chance to purchase our own brand-new machines, we went down the Kobelco path,” he says.

Yellow handrails and reflective tape helps El Dorado’s Kobelcos stand out. Image: Prime Creative Media

“We’ve also chosen Kobelco because of the product quality, ease of servicing, machine comfort, fuel efficiency, and overall value for money they offer.

“And our operators appreciate their simplicity, user-friendliness, and effectiveness compared to other brands they’ve used. They’re comfortable to operate, and deliver heaps of power.”

El Dorado Contractors’ fleet includes everything from 5-tonne to 40-tonne excavators. But it’s the fleet’s latest additions that have Dom fired up about the future of his business: a Kobelco SK380SR and SK380XD, both purchased through local dealer Melbourne Tractors.

Shaun says Melbourne Tractors takes pride in supporting family businesses as they grow. Image: Prime Creative Media

“The SK380SR short radius is one of the best machines I’ve operated,” Dom says. “It’s highly versatile. It’s got the power for bigger jobs where you’ve got all the room that you need, and then it can also go into the little tight-access jobs where you still need that bigger machine with the extra breakout.”

And for when El Dorado Contractors needs to crank up the power even further for the toughest jobs, that’s where the Kobelco SK380XD comes in. Built to quarry specifications, this 38-tonne machine delivers a 244kN bucket breakout force, and 120kN of slew torque. Dom says the SK380XD provides that extra bit of grunt to tackle bigger jobs.

Dom appreciates the Kobelco machines’ combination of simplicity and power. Image: Prime Creative Media

“The SK380XD allows us to run oversized buckets and put a bigger hammer on it for breaking rock, which is great for productivity,” he says.

“One of my favourite things about it is the extra bracing on the track frame and double plating around the boom and hitch, which gives it the toughness needed for rock excavation jobs.

“It also looks the part. Kobelco have done a really good job with the cosmetics of their machines.”

El Dorado Contractors has had these machines customised with its signature branding, including logos, yellow handrails, reflective tape, and all the necessary accessories to ensure both operator comfort and operational efficiency.

Customised with unique branding, El Dorado’s fleet stands out for aesthetics as well as performance. Image: Prime Creative Media

“The team at Melbourne Tractors – especially my representative, Shaun Pollard – has been excellent to deal with,” Dom says.

“We’ve been dealing with Shaun for five odd years, and it’s been a pleasure. He’s very helpful, as are the Melbourne Tractors and Kobelco teams.”

Shaun, who has represented Melbourne Tractors for 10 years, has become El Dorado’s trusted adviser in all things Kobelco.

“As another family-owned business, we at Melbourne Tractors take a lot of pride in working closely with our clients as they grow,” Shaun says.

The Kobelco SK380SR is a versatile powerhouse for varied jobs in tight spaces. Image: Prime Creative Media

“The El Dorado team is very professional about what they do, and they keep their gear in really good condition. Our job is to keep supporting them going forward – letting them know about any new products we’ve got coming though, but also keeping in touch with what projects they’ve got coming up as well.”

Continuing to build on the success Dom and his team have had with their recent SK380SR and SK380XD, Shaun says he is already discussing their next equipment purchase with them.

“It just reinforces their belief, not only in Melbourne Tractors as a dealer, but the Kobelco brand, which has been really helping them grow their business quickly,” Shaun says.

For El Dorado, the SK380XD’s robust construction means tackling the toughest excavation jobs with confidence. Image: Prime Creative Media

The drive to survive

There’s no denying Dom’s passion for the industry. He believes that without a genuine love for the work, the challenges of weather, wear and tear, the day-to-day demands of the job would be insurmountable. It’s this passion that has helped El Dorado Contractors thrive and maintain its reputation for reliability and quality service.

“Since I was a little kid growing up, I always had the dream of owning my own machines with ‘El Dorado’ on the side of the boom,” Dom says. “And that’s what helps get me going every day. Because it is a tough industry, and if you haven’t got the passion for it, you’re not going to be in it for long.”

El Dorado, generations two and three: (L-R) Claude Serrano, Domenic Serrano, Renato Castro, and John Serrano. Image: Prime Creative Media

As El Dorado Contractors continues to grow and take on diverse projects across Victoria, it remains a family-first business at its core.

“We treat all our employees like family, we’re one big team – that’s key to who we are,” Dom says. “We’re all just here for an honest day’s work, and an honest day’s pay.”

This ethos positions El Dorado Contractors not just as an earthmoving business, but as a legacy carried forward by a passion for the industry and the bonds of family.

And if you ask Dom, he’ll tell you that solid partnerships with Kobelco and Melbourne Tractors also play a pivotal role.

“If you’re looking to buy a new excavator, give the boys down at Melbourne Tractors a ring,” he says. “If you’re looking for a machine that’s comfortable, affordable, and reliable, they’re the people to see.”


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