Case Study, Cat, Caterpillar, Earthmoving Machinery, Earthmoving Services

Heavnleigh heavy metal

 

Daniel Slaghekke explains what brought him back home to Adelaide to start Heavnleigh Earthworks, where he sees the business going, and how his Cat® equipment is supporting him on the journey.


 

It was over a couple of beers on a hard-earned holiday break that the idea of Heavnleigh Earthworks first came to Daniel Slaghekke and his partner Ashleigh.

Daniel had moved to Western Australia to pursue a promising mining career. And though it was something he’d excelled at, the isolation and homesickness brought on by the pandemic years had his mind wandering back home.

“When I told Ashleigh I wanted to move back home to Adelaide, she suggested we work hard for six months, save up, and go on a big trip,” Daniel says. “Then we could take that time to plan our next move.”

The couple travelled throughout northern WA, South Australia, and the Northern Territory – anywhere they could avoid border closures.

“We talked throughout the trip, weighing up our options for when we got back home,” Daniel says. “Then we came up with the idea of starting an earthmoving business. That way, we could be in Adelaide, wouldn’t have to work away from home, and no flying in and out anymore.”

This plan was solidified over a beer with mates in the coastal WA town of Exmouth. They decided to combine Daniel’s nickname “Heavy” with Ashleigh’s name to make “Heavnleigh”. “It’s just been guns blazing ever since,” Daniel says.

Daniel Slaghekke, Heavnleigh Earthworks. Image: Caterpillar

Today, Heavnleigh undertakes a variety of subcontractor works for civil works companies. With Ashleigh managing admin and payroll duties and Daniel in charge of operations, the business is making a name for itself by delivering quality work with its small team.

“We’ve focused on staying in our small- market niche, providing quality operators for whatever jobs our contractors require,” Daniel says. “Whether it’s final trim works on roads and footpaths, batter works, drainage works, or anything else, I have confidence in the team that they can carry out any task that’s put in front of them.”

Climbing the ladder

But none of this would have been possible without the work Daniel had put in developing his skills and expertise in his career to that point. Starting in his hometown of Adelaide, he got his first taste of earthmoving working for a landscaping company.

“I started in landscaping for a local company called CLS, which I did for about six years,” Daniel says. “From there I moved into mining, where I got a gig with Lucas Total Contract Solutions. I worked there for eight years – first as an operator, then in a supervisory role.”

In this time, Daniel’s hands-on experience allowed him to master a range of machinery, eventually catapulting him up the leadership chain.

“I was lucky enough to learn all the machines for mining and civil – dozers, graders, big excavators, and all that sort of stuff,” he says. “And then, I jumped up into a supervisory role.”

Then, looking for a change, Daniel packed his bags and headed to WA, where he built on his mining experience, moved into a superintendent role, and met Ashleigh.

Daniel values the responsive support from Cavpower for Heavnleigh’s equipment needs. Image: Caterpillar

Reliable foundations

Fast forward to Daniel and Ashleigh’s return to Adelaide, the couple set to work getting the Heavnleigh Earthworks ball rolling.

“We were lucky to get a bit of a head start,” Daniel says. “My brother was working as a builder around Adelaide, and he had a couple of jobs in the pipeline that would be good for around two or three months’ work. So we got to work, and in that time, started figuring out exactly what we’d like to specialise in.”

At this early stage, Heavnleigh relied on rental gear as the team found their feet. And from his time in the mines, Daniel had developed a strong preference for Cat® machinery.

“Whether we needed excavators, skid steers or rollers, we’d reach out to the Cat Rental Store through the local dealer Cavpower,” he says. “I knew the reliability of the machines, and you always know you’re going to get something
that will be available when you need it, and that won’t break down on you.”

After steadily growing Heavnleigh with the support of Cat Rental gear, and with a solid stream of subcontractor work in the pipeline, the time soon came for the young business to purchase its own excavator. And Daniel didn’t waver in his preference for Cat equipment.

“We started off with a Cat 301.7, and quickly figured out we’d need to add something a bit more powerful as well,” he says. “We weighed up a couple of options before settling on the Cat 306 CR Mini Excavator. It’s that little bit bigger – a bit like the old-school Cat 308 – with a big arm to reach up and load trucks.”

Daniel says he knew he’d be able to find cheaper options out there, but he wasn’t prepared to compromise on the operator comfort he knew the Cat 306 would deliver.

“For the level of comfort and accessibility for the operator – you can’t ever compete with the Cat gear,” he says. “If you’re sitting in a machine all day, you want to have a nice, comfortable cab, with room for your legs and a good seat that will keep you in a good posture all day. “Plus, the Stick Steer controls really make a difference. Not having to use the foot pedals means much less fatigue on the operator. It’s just click of a button, and you can control the whole digger just with your left-hand joystick – I just think that’s a game-changer.”

According to Daniel, Heavnleigh’s growing relationship with Cavpower has been instrumental in the success of his business so far.

“Every time I deal with them, I’m struck by the ease of the whole process,” he says. “Any time they come out and visit, they’re always on for a chat. They’re interested in the business, keen to know what we have coming up, and always looking for ways to help – but without any of the sales pressure.

“And I know that if I ever need something – to upgrade my bucket, or if I’m having any issues with a machine – I can just ring them and know that they’ll sort it out. For me, that’s huge.”

All about balance

 

The spacious cab of the Cat 306 CR ensures comfort for operators during long workdays. Image: Caterpillar

As Heavnleigh Earthworks continues to grow, Daniel maintains a clear vision for the future: steadily building a business that values the strength of its relationships, both internally and externally. But the backbone of Daniel’s philosophy is a focus on quality – in equipment, personnel, and the work delivered for clients.

“Rather than getting too big too quickly, we’re pretty comfortable to just mosey along at a nice pace,” he says. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself or my team.

“I don’t ever envision having 50 people working for me. I’d like Heavnleigh to stay at a comfortable size where we can provide quality work, great machines, and a team that clients can trust to get the job done.”

 

 

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