Having started in 1997 with one truck and a unique landscaping concept using compressed air to blow and spread bark and mulch on parks and gardens, Jon Moon has built a burgeoning business that currently includes a fleet of 14 Isuzu trucks.
After seeing blower trucks working in the United States, Moon moved to supplement his family’s landscape supplies business, located in the Hills District of north west Sydney, with the high-tech mulch and bark spreading solution.
The niche operation took off like a shot, prompting his family to shut down their landscape supplies yard and go all-out with the blowing business.
Fast forward 23 years and The Hills Bark Blower (THBB) is reputed to be the largest blower truck business in Australia, with a 14-strong fleet that includes six Isuzu heavyweights: four FYJ 300-350s, an FYH 300-350, a Giga CXY 240-260 Prime Mover, alongside two pre-2000 Isuzu workhorses, a ’99 FVZ and ’97 FTR.
According to THBB General Manager of 12 years, Chris Nattrass, business is booming.
“About 50 per cent of our clients annually are repeat customers, including landscapers, developers, builders and local councils,” said Nattrass.
“The last five years we’ve grown every single year and anticipate 2020 will be another strong year for us. We are continuously looking to grow and expand our fleet in the future.”
The current fleet comprises 10 blower trucks and four Rockslingers, the latter featuring a conveyor belt system that can deliver rocks, sand, gravel or topsoil at a rate of one tonne per minute at hard-to-reach locations and job sites.
The blower trucks serve as the backbone of the business and are furnished with quality components including Caterpillar powerplants, hoses, conveyor belts, left-hand side control panels, oversized bins and blowers shipped from Oregon in the United States.
“Our blower trucks can be required to install in excess of 800 cubic metres of mulches, barks, gravel, soil and sand per day, so reliability is a big concern for us,” said THBB Operations Manager, Glen Baker.
Baker explained that the business has an excellent maintenance track record and that with fewer downtime issues, Isuzu stands out from the pack.
“Maintenance wise, the Isuzus are not letting us down. On average, they’re available more often than anything else we have, so they’re cheaper to run in the long term,” said Baker – adding that if anything does go wrong, they’re fully covered with Isuzu Extended Care purchased from the Suttons Arncliffe Isuzu dealership in Sydney. “Suttons have been very good to us,” he said. “They would bend over backwards to keep us going and have worked hard to build a genuine relationship with us. We’ve had some small warranty issues in the past, as most trucks do, and they’ve had those units back to us within the day.”
His favourite feature of the Isuzu range is the impressive turning circles, which he said give them unmatched manoeuvrability in tight access areas. In particular, he has found the FYH 300-350 and Giga CXY 240-260 prime mover useful in servicing smaller urban worksites.
“They’re a really useful size and have helped us take on different types of jobs,” he said. “we’ve put them in places our old trucks wouldn’t have been able to get into, which has increased our productivity.”