Bryce Adamson from New South Wales-based BKA Earthworx has just levelled up his forestry game with the new Cat® 299D3XE Land Management package. Find out what made it the perfect choice for his growing business.
If you’d told Bryce Adamson just a few years ago that he’d be making a living using smaller machines like compact track loaders, he would have laughed at you.
But that’s just how the chips have fallen for his business, BKA Earthworx, since he started it in 2020. The trained plant mechanic trusted his business sense, followed his nose, and it led him into forestry and land management.
“I’d always envisioned running a fleet of dozers and large excavators – which we still do dabble in – but it’s nowhere near as busy as our smaller gear,” Bryce says.
“Around 90 per cent of our work now is vegetation management, slashing or mulching using our compact track loaders. There seems to be a growing market for this kind of work, as opposed to the traditional methods of sending in a dozer and making a big messy pile of things to burn in the winter.
“Focusing on mulching has been a huge success for us so far.”
Mulching with mates
Bryce is joined under the BKA Earthworx banner by Matt Fisher, a skilled operator, and Bryce’s close mate of more than 20 years. Bryce says Matt has been crucial to the growth of the business from the start.
“I don’t really look at Matt as an employee,” Bryce says. “He’s just my best mate, who I’m lucky enough to liaise with every day, and who I know I can trust and grow the business with. I don’t think I would have been able to handle that with someone I didn’t know.”
Bryce says an average day on the job for him involves contacting clients, organising jobs, and then touching base with Matt to get mulching. He says a big focus for him – and he suspects a big factor in the success of the business to date – is making the effort to develop personal connections with customers, and establish strong foundations of trust.
“It’s surprising to hear people’s experiences with contractors not following up on quotes, or not showing up when they’ve said they will,” Bryce says. “We’ve always aimed to be committed to our clients, communicate well, and be up front and honest every step of the way.
“Making people feel heard, listening to their needs, and then delivering what they’ve asked for goes a long way. And that’s made so much easier with quality gear and no breakdowns.”
Made for it
The latest piece of quality gear that Bryce is referring to is a newly delivered Cat 299D3XE Land Management package – a specifically tailored combination of a Cat 299D3XE Compact Track Loader and a Cat HM418 Mulcher.
Building on the success of a smaller Cat 289D3 Compact Track Loader that BKA took delivery of earlier in 2023, Bryce says his and Matt’s volume of work started to demand something a bit bigger and more powerful.
“After looking at some of the competition on the market, I just couldn’t be swayed,” he says. “My experiences just kept bringing me back to Caterpillar, and the 299D3XE Land Management just ticked every box and more.
“It just offered everything we needed in one package. Plus, the way the tool is combined with the machine – it’s tuned perfectly.”
According to Nina Zeidan, WesTrac Product Advisor for Cat Attachments, Bryce opted for the HM418 Mulcher because of its Bite Limiter technology.
“The advantage when using a Bite Limiter mulcher over standard carbide mulchers is the ability to cut and mulch material in a single pass rather than the initial cut with the front door open, then reversing over the material with door closed to break it down further for a neater finish,” she says.
“While the daily maintenance and sharpening is a bit more involved than with a standard carbide tooth mulcher, Bite Limiter mulchers are used by professional forestry operators who understand that, like a butcher or a barber, sharp tools are what enable them to provide an expertly finished product on the first cut.”
Bryce says having the machine and attachment interact seamlessly is a big win for ease-of-use, and streamlines the process of switching attachments – especially for any contractor with multiple operators on the tools.
“It’s one less thing to have to run your operators through, because there’s only one way it can be hooked up,” he says. “With this mulcher, you just hook every single hose into the machine, and it knows what to do as soon as you switch it on. It detects that it’s a high-flow attachment and engages high-flow automatically.
“So, there’s no worrying about whether you’ve got the right flow rate for the unit. It makes it a no-brainer to go with Cat attachments and Cat machines – it just takes all the guesswork out.”
According to Joel Newton, WesTrac Sales Representative for Building Construction Products in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region, this is just one of the reasons the package was the perfect choice for BKA Earthworx.
“Having the mulcher specifically tuned to the hydraulic output of the Cat 299D3XE is big for maximising productivity,” he says. “It’s also equipped with a hydraulic oil cooler, reversing fan, and a range of seals and guards that make it perfectly suited to Bryce’s application.
“The sealed and pressurised cab also keeps the operator cool, comfortable, and in a quiet working environment for long days in harsh conditions in applications such as mulching.”
Bryce can attest to how tiring a day of vegetation management under the Australian sun can be, but he says arming yourself with the right tools goes a long way.
“For any operator sitting in a cab all day long, it can be really fatiguing,” he says. “But the Cat machines offer a really great cab layout – everything is very simple to use, and it’s extremely comfortably to sit in for long hours.”
Peace of mind
Joel says Bryce is a great example of a customer who has made the move to Cat equipment based on the quality of the product, and stayed for the support on offer.
“We’ve found customers like Bryce will generally come back to buy their second and third machines due to the after-sales support you get at WesTrac,” Joel says. “This can consist of our FitFleet Customer Value Agreements for service, 24-hour parts ordering and availability, which combines to allow Bryce to focus on running his business and doing the work.”
Bryce says the added peace of mind this backup service provides is almost as valuable as the machinery itself.
“Coming from a maintenance background, I’m probably a little bit finicky and fussy about certain things, so I’ve previously done the majority of the maintenance on my own equipment,” he says. “But I can’t be in seven different places at once, so handing the maintenance side of things over to WesTrac with our FitFleet agreement has made life so much easier. When the agreed service interval comes around, they just call, ask when the machine’s available, and get it sorted.”
Stress-free parts ordering
Bryce sings a similar tune when it comes to ordering spare parts through the WesTrac web portal.
“When I’m at work all day long, I don’t have the time to stress about ordering parts,” he says. “Often, you’re expected to jump on the phone during business hours – just another phone call I have to remember to make. But for Cat parts – say, something simple like teeth for the mulcher – I can jump onto my WesTrac Parts.cat.com account from any device, at any time of the day, and order the parts, and I know they’ll turn up and a couple of days’ time.
Bryce says his experience of having smart, reliable machinery paired with comprehensive support from WesTrac has the BKA Earthworx team already pondering its next piece of Cat gear.
“As a business owner, you have a million things to remember every day,” he says. “And the teams at Caterpillar and WesTrac make things a whole lot easier for me. They really do offer the full package.”