STM Trucks & Machinery’s Peter Moore sits down with EEM to share some insights gleaned from his many years in the earthmoving equipment game.
In his decades-long career, STM Trucks & Machinery’s Peter Moore has earned his reputation as a legend of the industry. He was selling machinery and supporting customers long before the advent of the mobile phone, and has seen the industry evolve and grow along with the ever-changing landscape it helps to shape.
Having grown up around earthmoving gear and learning the ins and outs of the industry from his father, Peter’s wealth of knowledge is hard to top. Today, he’s Area Manager – North Sydney for STM, where he’s worked for more than a decade over two stints with the business.
Peter sat down with EEM to talk all things earthmoving, and why he’s in no hurry to hang up his steel-capped boots just yet.
EEM: What kickstarted your earthmoving journey?
Peter: My father was in the industry. I spent my early years growing up in India and Singapore where he was selling Allis Chalmers, and later Fiat Allis earthmoving equipment. My father always involved me in what he was doing,
so I gained considerable knowledge about earthmoving equipment at a young age.
I fell into this career path after returning from an extended stay in England when I was about 21. I was visiting the Fiat Allis office in Silverwater with my dad, when the general manager at the time asked me what I was planning to do for work. Then, be basically threw me the keys to a new warehouse on Egerton Street in Silverwater, and said: “I’m going to America for a few weeks, here are the plans for the new parts binning and racking, they’re being delivered on Monday.”
EEM: How has the Australian earthmoving and construction equipment industry evolved during your career?
Peter: Back when I began, backhoe loaders were far more prevalent on the job site, and excavator technology was still in its infancy. Now, in Australia, basically everything’s done with an excavator.
From a salesperson’s point of view, the biggest thing that’s changed our industry was the mobile phone. That completely changed the game. Years ago, we used to go around to building sites and talk to people during the day, then make all our phone calls during the night, and hand-deliver all our quotes.
We also did a lot of work in phone booths, wherever we were.
EEM: In your opinion, what have been the most significant technological advancements in construction equipment in recent years?
Peter: The rise of excavators with GPS has been a big one. That technology has meant less people are required in the field, and you’re seeing bigger machines doing more work. The productivity of earthmoving gear has increased massively.
EEM: You have been working with STM One of the first Kobelco excavators for many years – what’s the primary reason behind your loyalty to the business?
Peter: Over the years, STM has developed into a real family-focused company. The management core of the business is family, and they also take their staff and customers in to be a part of that family. You’re never just a number with STM, whether you’re an employee or a customer.
Another of STM’s big strengths is its team- building process for young sales staff, which is to learn by experience. And their ability to hold onto their staff is testament to that.
EEM: What do you think makes the STM team successful?
Peter: The main reason for STM’s success is a commitment to three key fundamentals: service, parts, sales. If you don’t have any one of those three elements working for you, you can’t move forward. And you see quite a few companies out there that fall down with one of those three aspects.
Another factor is that the Kobelco product is just exceptional. They mainly just manufacture excavators, which means they can really focus on that product line, and streamline their supply of parts more than brands who make one of everything.
EEM: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in this industry, and how have you overcome them?
Peter: The industry has had four or five major dips in my career, but the worst of them was the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2007-8. That was really bad. But the most important thing we did in that time was to just keep visiting customers. They’d invite us in and say: “don’t talk to me about machines, but the coffee room’s there, let’s just talk about other things”. Of course, at that time, nobody wanted to buy anything – they were all selling.
But we just wanted to keep the relationships going. Then, when things started to turn around again, the phones started ringing again, and it was all those same customers.
EEM: What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self?
Peter: My advice to anyone in any part of this industry is to talk to the people around you that have done it before. That’s better than anything you’ll learn in a textbook or in any sales training. Talk to the operators, talk to the labourers, and learn from them all. Also pay attention to what the boss does well and take that on board. Everyone has good input.
The same goes for machines – really get to know them. Know what’s good and bad about them, what customers like, and what they don’t.
EEM: What are the most memorable projects you’ve been involved with?
Peter: When my career first kicked off, Sydney was a much smaller place. And seeing it grow has been very exciting. Construction of the M7, construction of the M4, construction for the Olympics, and now the new airport in Western Sydney – these have all been exciting to be a part of in one way or another.
EEM: Where do you see the earthmoving industry heading in the next 5-10 years, and what part of that excites you the most?
Peter: Sydney is just bursting at the seams, and it’s got to keep growing. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with infrastructure as it transforms into a big mega city, which is inevitable.
As for what excites me about the future – retirement? I’m 68 now, but I’m one of those people who has been putting it off. You’ve got to have a mission when you retire.
And I still enjoy the excitement of getting up and going to work – it’s as simple as that.