A MEETING OF MINDS: ISUZU AND BOBCAT

There are a few rare consumer products throughout the world that have evolved into much more than merely a brand.

Usually of the highest quality, these products are synonymous with the applications they’re applied to – so much so in some cases – their competitors also become known by the same brand name.

Think brands like Hoover, the famed American vacuum cleaner company. For a long time there you didn’t just do the vacuuming; you did the “Hoovering.”

Another classic example is Kleenex tissues. In the same vein as Hoover, you don’t just grab a tissue to blow your nose; you grab a Kleenex of course. Band Aid is another.

All of that said, it’s fair to say there’d be only a handful of readers that could define what a ‘skid steer’ is because much like Hoover or Kleenex, the world knows these incredible little machines as ‘Bobcats.’

Jason Delecca, Sales Manager at Bobcat of Bendigo (BOB), is lucky enough to represent one of only two retail outlets in Victoria to exclusively stock American-made Bobcat products.

The bustling regional hub of Bendigo – based slap-bang in the geographical centre of Victoria – is home base for Jason and the expanding family business he’s taken charge of.

Jason’s father Ron and mother Leigh established the business from humble beginnings in the back blocks of Bendigo.

“We started out when my father went out on this own and started his own business as a mechanic back in the late seventies.

“He initially worked on cars, trucks and quite a lot of earth moving equipment and machinery. In the early eighties he was approached by one of the execs from Bobcat to become a Victorian dealer and the business has really taken off from there,” Jason said.

“During that first 15-20 year period we were doing all types of service work as well as machinery sales, although over the last decade or so we’ve focused solely on the Bobcat product.”

And it was a savvy business move too.

Trading for close to seventy years now, Bobcat is nothing short of an institution within the excavation and construction industry, a fact not lost on Jason or his team at BOB who saw an opening in an untapped market.

“There are a handful of Bobcat dealers throughout Australia, but here in Victoria it’s only us and one other supplier in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. From a coverage point of view, we take in all of regional Victoria and up into south western NSW, so it’s a huge footprint,” said Jason.

“The main stock we’re selling all the time is our Bobcat skid steers and excavators – we also run a full spare parts and service department.

“We cater to the agri-business side of things as well with our telescopic handlers. The largest market for those regionally is hay contractors and the machines are also used for broader material handling.

“But one of the biggest components of the business, and the reason we purchased our first Isuzu truck, is our rental business. Bobcat rentals are a growing component of the business and that particular Isuzu truck spends most of its time driving around the countryside dropping off and picking up our rental fleet.”

In working to meet demand and expand this arm of the business, Jason and his father Ron were guests at a recent national drive program in which Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) showcased their new NLR 45-150 Servicepack from Isuzu’s popular Ready to Work Range. It was an experience which prompted Jason to take a closer look at the full Isuzu line-up in search of a field-service vehicle.

“We were actually looking quite closely at the NLR Servicepack for a while, but after looking at towing capacities and power output, specifically in the context of what we needed it for, we jumped up in size to get the bigger engine and more power with the Tradepack, and also, for our needs, the three and a half tonne tow capacity was a real winner.”

The extra power (114 Kw @ 2,600 RPM/ 419 Nm @ 1,600 -2,600 RPM) and towing capacity (3,500 kg rated towbar) means Jason and his team simply have more options in the field, be it towing out a dead machine or floating parts and attachments to a call-out.

The heavy duty aluminum tray comes with integrated load restraint points, and the removable drop sides and rear tailgate make the trying task of loading and unloading a little easier for Jason’s rental team.

And in a twist of fate perhaps, Bobcat of Bendigo’s decision to select the NPR Tradepack meant it came standard with a genuine Isuzu Bullbar, a feature that came in extremely handy on just its first field trip as Jason explains.

“The guys have done a couple of really big trips already. Its first trip away was actually about a 950 kilometre round trip up into Darlington Point in the southern NSW Riverina.

“One of my mechanics came back front hat trip and he was wrapped. He was really happy with the all-round performance and the comfort factor out on the highway was impressive – he was over the moon with it.

“It did happen to hit a kangaroo on its first trip unfortunately, so we were extremely happy the bulbar came as standard. We actually selected it with that in mind too, so that decision has paid for itself already.”

In fact, overall safety has been significant driver for Jason and the BOB team for some time, and it’s a shared requirement, not only in the trucks they drive, but in the Bobcat products they sell as well.

“Historically we’ve had larger European trucks for our heavier work and we got used to having premium safety equipment so in going with Isuzu, it was a conscious decision to ensure our workers had the same sort of protection in the event of something going wrong. That was really important to us,” he said.

“Safety has really progressed in the trucks, and it’s also something that Bobcat has had a really strong focus on for many, many years too. Bobcat was actually the first manufacturer to introduce a safety restraint for the operator, and the first to put a roll over protection system (ROPS) onto a skid steer as well. They really were the pioneers within the industry in terms of working hard to keep operators safe.”

So whilst Jason espouses the merits of safety in his pitch to his own customers, he does one better by practicing it every day within his business and the equipment they use.

The NPR Tradepack covers all bases too with Isuzu’s Electronic Stability Control (IESC) headlining a comprehensive safety suite that includes driver and passenger airbags, ABS, ASR, reversing camera and cornering lamps.

Overall, the Tradepack represented a comprehensive package that Jason couldn’t look past, but there was one pivotal factor that really sealed the deal.

“The deciding factor for us moving over to Isuzu was going with a local supplier in Poyser Trucks here in Bendigo,” Jason explained.

“We know, being an earth moving supplier, that quality dealer support is really important, and we wanted local support as well. They were probably the two biggest components we were chasing when looking to buy.

“The guys at Poyers have been fantastic. From a workshop standpoint as well – I can’t commend them enough on how good they’ve been and how good they continue to be as well.

“Both trucks have the five year extend warranty and we wanted to make sure we could get all our service and maintenance work done at a local provider – to try and keep business strong here in Bendigo.

“We bank on our customer doing exactly the same thing when it comes to earth moving equipment, so we held ourselves to the same standards.”

And it’s exactly this sort of thinking that has seen a marriage of minds at BOB between two market leaders in Isuzu Trucks and Bobcat earth moving equipment.

Jason and the team at Bobcat of Bendigo not only know their product inside out, they know quality, reliability and cost effectiveness when they see it; such is the collaboration with Isuzu Trucks.

“Bobcat has been the market leader in the skip steer segment for many years and still continues to hold about 40 per cent market share,” Jason said.

“So similar to Isuzu, we tend to hold market share in our main product line and people have a genuine affection for the brand because of its quality and what it can do.”

ends

For further information, please contact:               
Jeff Birdseye                                                          
Isuzu Australia Limited                                            
Phone: 03 9644 6666                                            

For Isuzu Truck Releases and Photos:
Arkajon Communications
Phone: 03 9867 5611
Email: isuzu@arkajon.com.au

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