The relationship between Sydney’s Sitex Rentals and STM Trucks & Machinery stretches back more than three decades. EEM chats to Sitex Director Jon Arnot to learn how the businesses continue to help each other grow and thrive.
These days, you’d be hard pressed to drive past any major civil works site in the greater Sydney area without catching a glimpse of a Sitex Rentals logo emblazoned across the boom of an excavator or the body of a dump truck.
And for a business that started in 1997 with just five machines, that’s evidence of something done right.
Now one of Sydney and the South Coast’s largest excavator hire companies, and with more than 500 pieces of equipment in regular operation throughout New South Wales, Sitex has well and truly ingrained itself into the fabric of the state’s construction sector. From government road, rail, and utilities projects to commercial housing, the business has become one of the go-to heavy machinery rental businesses for tier one contractors across the state.
For Director Jon Arnot, this is the reward for a business built on dedication to customers, and on being well attuned to the industry it serves.
“We’ve always aimed to go slowly with the flow, and build the business up as we go. And while you do have to change and evolve on the fly, it’s also important to have a three-to-five-year vision ahead of you. You need to understand market trends and be prepared for changes, but also be patient and not rush into anything – it’s about finding that equilibrium.”
But for Jon, one key element that will never change is a simple one: doing the right thing by customers. And it’s right there in the Sitex company motto: “the answer is always yes”.
“That attitude is embedded into the whole staff,” he says. “From account managers to administration staff to the mechanics to the painter. It gives customers the confidence to keep coming back to Sitex.”
And when your customer base is made up of busy tier one contractors working on some of the country’s biggest and most complex projects, this means providing reliable machinery that’s ready at the drop of a hat.
“Whether its excavators, dump trucks, rollers, or track loaders, we supply plant that’s ready to go straight to work on site the moment it’s delivered,” Jon says. “All safety paperwork is completed by our internal compliance officers at Sitex. So, when a machine arrives, there’s no delay in getting it up to spec – the paperwork is done and dusted, and it can just start digging.
“There’s nothing worse than paying to hire a machine for a day, only to have it sit in a compound for four hours while it gets inducted. That’s why we do all that internally before a machine goes out the gate.”
Tried and true blue
Sitex’s commitment to keeping its finger on the industry’s pulse has recently seen the business take delivery of several new 35-tonne and 38-tonne Kobelco excavators – machines Jon says are on the larger side of Sitex’s typical offering.
“A lot of the major projects in NSW at the moment are demanding larger machines, where we’ve typically specialised in the lower-to-medium side,” he says. “But increasingly, we’ve had to have more of these larger machines to help our customers and support their growth.”
Jon says that whenever Sitex is in the market for any new Kobelco gear, there’s one dealer that will be receiving that call: STM Trucks & Machinery.
“We’ve been buying Kobelcos ever since STM became their NSW dealer – about 15 years ago,” he says. “But my family and I have had a long-term relationship with STM founder Michael Gerace and his team, going right back to when I was a boy.”
The Sitex fleet now includes around 100 Kobelco excavators, ranging from 1-tonne to 50-tonne machines.
“We use Kobelco excavators for two main reasons,” Jon says. “Firstly, they offer great reliability, efficiency, and value for money. Secondly, because of our long-term relationship with STM.
“They make any purchase very easy, and they’re very willing and flexible. They’ll go over and about for you, whether you’ve got 10 machines or 100.
“That’s key for any company buying earthmoving machines – you’ve got to have that confidence in your dealer. And of course, you’ve got to have the backup support.
“It’s not just about taking the order – STM will look after you the whole way through the journey.”
For Sitex and STM, that journey is one with no end in sight.
“We rotate our machines frequently,” Jon says. “We’re always refreshing our fleet, and we always go back to Kobelco and STM. We’ve had a lot of other dealers and suppliers knocking on our door – and while it’s good to have a bit of a mix of machines and brands to offer clients, 90 per cent of our excavator fleet is Kobelco.”
Despite the size of this Kobelco fleet, Jon says Sitex’s parts turnover and warranty claims are kept to a minimum.
“As a hire company, we understand everyone’s human,” he says. “Everyone knows that when you hire a machine, the care factor is a little bit less than if they owned it.
“But the Kobelcos are able to withstand the harsh treatment of the rental industry, which is a huge compliment to the machines.”
Game of trust
Thanks to STM, Sitex has also recently added D’Avino dumpers to its fleet, which Jon says have become a bit of a hit with customers.
“We have the little 7-tonne front tip dumpers, as well as 12-tonne dumpers,” he says. “They are proving to be very good in the industry.
“D’Avino as a brand is breaking new ground in the Australian market, and some of our clients were initially a bit sceptical about hiring them. But since we’ve had the four 12-tonners in the fleet, we almost never see them – so that says something. Our customers have said they’ve been reliable and extremely versatile.
“Transportation-wise, they’re not oversized either – they’ll fit on a tilt tray, which is very handy.”
Jon says the decision to take a punt on D’Avino – a lesser-known brand in Australia – wasn’t made lightly. But the Sitex team’s relationship with STM played a big part.
“Our trust in STM was about 80 per cent of the reason, because we knew we’d have their backup support and service,” he says. “And the rest is the fact that D’Avinos are Italian-made machines, and you always get good quality coming out of Italy. With those two factors combined, we figured we’d have a recipe for success.”
Jon says this is also indicative of one of STM’s strongest attributes: that the team can be trusted to do the research and the legwork necessary before engaging with a new brand.
“They won’t just take something on for purely monetary reasons,” Jon says. “They’re not going to put their name to a product that’s not suited to the Australian market.
“They’ll look five to 10 years into the future. Whether it’s a European, Chinese, or Japanese machine, STM will look deeper to find out what kind of backup support they’re going to get from the manufacturer before they take the dealership on.”
For Jon, this dedication is all part of why Sitex and STM have enjoyed such a mutually rewarding relationship.
“Having STM partner with us along the way from day one has been an integral part of Sitex’s growth,” he says. “Without that support from all areas and departments of their business, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today.”