ACT, Case Study, Cat, Excavators

Vast Earthworks and Cat® Equipment

A Cat 305 excavator operating on a job site

Vast Earthworks’ strong connection with Cat equipment has led to ongoing success for the business. Here’s how.

Vast Earthworks is a classic Australian success story where two hardworking blokes, each with their own unique experience and skillsets come together to create an impressive business. It prides itself on not only the quality of its work, customer experience and machinery, but also the day-to-day experience for its operators. It’s a recipe built for success that retains staff and keeps customers satisfied.

It was Director Jon Lorenz who started the company five years ago, taking on small electrical jobs which required his own excavator.

“I developed solid relationships with builders in the area that led me to taking on site cuts. From there, as they say, the rest is history,” Jon shared.

“As the company has evolved, Jayden Kraft has joined Vast Earthworks as a shareholder and Director to help expand the company into the civil construction space. Jayden has an extensive background in earthmoving and civil construction, having been raised in a civil construction family.”

 

The great Australian dream

There’s something that amazing about the earthmoving industry when you meet great guys like Jon and Jayden, who have put in the hard work early in their careers, learnt their skillsets, then decided to have a go on their own and are kicking goals. It’s the great Australian dream – and after spending a day with them, they couldn’t be a better team to give it a crack and achieve ongoing success. With their impressive fleet of Cat® machines and great relationship with WesTrac rep, Daniel Neal, it seems the Vast team have all the pieces in place to successfully build into the future.

Jon started his career in the construction industry as a commercial electrician. After a few years in the commercial space, he sought to learn new skills which led him to the gas fields. From there, he was introduced to the world of earthmoving and soon purchased a farm excavator, which quickly became more than a hobby. He decided to make the switch into earthmoving and hasn’t looked back since.

 

Three men pose in front of a Cat 305 excavator
Left to right: Daniel Neal, WesTrac; Jon Lorenz, Vast Earthworks; and Jayden Kraft, Vast Earthworks.

Career highlights

Chatting with Jon about both his highlights and biggest challenges of his career thus far, he said: “The highlight of my career is ongoing, each day looking at what Vast Earthworks and our team has accomplished brings me a great sense of fulfilment and pride.

“By far the biggest challenge has been the wet weather that we have received over the past 18 months in Canberra. It has been relentless, with record rain falls two years running. Hats off to everyone that is in the same position, keeping machines moving to put food on the table for their workers.”

When it comes to machinery, you will struggle to meet two more dedicated Cat equipment owners who are on the exact same page about the multi-layered benefits of using Cat machinery. From attracting and keeping the best operators who want to work in Cat machines, to presenting themselves to clients as a top shelf company, the duo give clients confidence with world-class onsite performance. Their highly-skilled operators are well versed in Cat technologies, such as the Cat Grade full 3D GPS systems.

The latest purchase, the Cat Next Gen 305 CR, has brought the power and technologies the Vast team needs with the benefit of a zero turn for use in tight areas, filling a gap in Vast’s fleet. After watching and filming Jayden work in the Cat Next Gen 305 CR, he is so dialled into the precision controls and technologies that it looked like an extension of himself. It was smooth and impressive to watch.

 

A Cat 305 Excavator digging with a bucket attachment
Jon Lorenz and Jayden Kraft are dedicated Cat equipment owners who are well aware of the multi-layered benefits of using Cat machinery.

Cat Next Gen 305 CR Mini Excavator

After filming Jayden put the new Cat Next Gen 305 CR Mini Excavator through its paces, EEM pulled him aside for a chat about what it’s like to work with Cat gear. “Our Cat fleet consists of 11 machines including a D6T dozer, 924K loader, seven excavators, a 259D compact track loader and a 242D skid steer, with the latest being our new 305, which has been an excellent addition to our fleet. Its reduced size and compact footprint allows us to get into the tighter areas we need, most of which has been purchased out of the WesTrac Hume branch,” he said.

“The tech we incorporate in our day-to-day would have to be Cat Grade. We utilise as much technology as possible when taking on jobs, as it improves our overall job productivity levels. We have three full 3D GPS excavators and one 2D system. Although the 2D system is not available as a factory option for all machines at this point, we see that once the option becomes available it will be a game changer. Technology and local service resources are extremely important for us – the power of Cat grade technology and the ease of having our equipment on FitFleet Customer Value Agreement (CVA) is what drove us to move our fleet to yellow.”

Jon and Jayden had a Cat Next Gen 306 CR for about 12 months and have been more than impressed with it, but they wanted a slightly more compact version of it to tackle some smaller jobs while retaining the breakout force, so the recent purchase of the Cat Next Gen 305 CR has been an addition that has filled a gap in their fleet with great results.

“We always spec out our excavators with tilt hitches and a full fleet of buckets to ensure we can tackle any job given to us,” Jon said. “We pride ourselves on ensuring that we have the latest fleet with a broad range of assets, to ensure we have the capabilities to take on all aspects of civil. Every machine we purchase helps us to achieve this. We felt that the Cat Next Gen 305 CR is a great compact excavator that fits in tight spots and has the creature comforts that we expect of a next gen excavator.”

A Cat 305 Excavator operating on a job site.
The Cat Next Gen 305 CR has the benefit of Compact Radius, for use in tight areas.

Working with WesTrac rep, Daniel Neal

The Vast team has been building a great relationship with their WesTrac sales rep, Daniel Neal, who has been servicing them for the past two and a half years. Prior to Daniel working in the greater Canberra region, Vast had purchased a few different machines over the years. Working with WesTrac to identify the best machines for the job, Vast has turned their fleet almost completely yellow.

“Daniel has been great to deal with and we look forward to working with him as our fleet grows. This relationship has given us the confidence to continue growing our fleet. We can make a quick call and get the information that we need to make important decisions on future requirements, lead times, costs, and options,” Jayden said.

“We see Vast Earthworks expanding into larger civil construction projects as our fleet grows, while not sacrificing on our quality or company culture. It is our goal to provide quality services and establish a reputation within the industry as a leading civil contractor that has unmatched workplace values, culture, and attention to detail. To achieve this, we will need the right team and partners, latest technology, and machinery with quality servicing.”

He said the Vast team sees its relationship with WesTrac as an important part of its future.

“We have invested in FitFleet and have seen great value in doing so because now we have the confidence to grow our fleet through the my.cat.com portal, knowing that they have a great local facility that can service our needs.”

It’s all about relationships and customer service

When discussing what the Vast-WesTrac partnership has been like over the past two and a half years, Daniel shared: “I’ve been with WesTrac now for six years as a sales rep, and I love my job and the experience of getting to work with good blokes like Jon, Jayden, and the Vast team.

“It’s been a busy time with the Vast team purchasing a 306, two 315s, a 323, 308 and 305. Operator familiarity has been a big benefit, as most of the fleet are now Cat Next Gen machines and the ease of use and operator knowledge is high.

“Operator comfort and efficiency means they can move from job to job in the same day, and the operator still feels fresh and not fatigued.”

Daniel speaks to the Vast team frequently, maintaining a great channel of communication.

“Vast pride themselves on having the best of everything – whether it’s their diggers, operators, cars or trucks, this choice enables them to work safely while making impressive progress for their clients,” he said.

With both Jayden and Jon so focused on keeping their clients and operators as happy as possible, and with plenty of work on the radar for the Vast team over the foreseeable future, it seems the Canberra region is going to keep Vast’s fleet busy, with more machine purchases on the cards for 2023.

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