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NOT ON MY TURF: EVANS TURF SERVICES

Craig Evans has been in the turf industry since he was 17. After almost three decades, he’s now 45, working a one-man business and looking to retire in 15 years.

To that, Craig laughed and said, “That’s the plan anyway.”

At 17, he got a job at a golf course as an apprentice, managing the golf turf. Over time, he worked his way up through the ranks until he was a superintendent.

And then about 12 years ago, Craig decided to go off on his own and start up Evans Turf Services. Having started out with just a tractor and a trailer on the back of a ute, Craig’s equipment has upgraded and grown alongside the business.

Evans Turf Services subcontracts to councils and performs general turf maintenance, including spraying, fertilising, laser levelling and seeding.

The services the business provides require heavy machinery, including Kubota tractors, fertiliser spreaders, seeders, vacuums, laser graders and forklifts. But the most important tool is the wheels that gets all his machinery to the turf, and Craig knew he needed something impressive. Having already had a smaller truck from another Japanese brand, which Craig found lacking, he needed something with carrying power.

“When fertilising, I use 25-kilogram bags, going through about 6 tonnes a day.

“I need a truck that saves me from having to go back to base and reload two or three times, because that would usually be a saving of two hours,” Craig said.

After some consideration, Craig approached Westar Truck Centre in Derrimut, Victoria, to get expert help and talk over the choices available.

“Keith from Westar sat me down and worked out the weight my business needs, and from there he pointed me in the direction of the truck I need, the truck that would be just right for what I need to get the work done efficiently.”

This truck was Isuzu’s FYJ 300-350. With a 30-tonne GVM and 45-tonne GCM, and 257 kW @ 2,000 rpm and 1,422 Nm @1,400 rpm, Craig was sold—not only on the capacity and power of the truck, but also on the brand.

Craig explained and said, “Isuzu’s got a good name. I didn’t even look at other brands.

“If I’m gonna buy a new truck, I may as well get the best Japanese trucks out there.”

Craig’s gadgets, tools and equipment for turf maintenance all fit neatly on the back of the FYJ, which was fitted with a tray body, thanks to a custom build by a mate at Australian Pipe Technology in Gisborne, Victoria. Additional customisation was done, and the result was a hydraulic ramp at the rear, allowing Craig to easily drive all his equipment up and down the tray.

In addition to the custom-built tray and ramp combination, Craig also got container twist locks put on the tray. So, instead of having to chain everything down, Craig just locks them all down and in place.

Reliability is important to Craig, because reliability is reputation, reputation is jobs and jobs are what a livelihood depends on.

Craig’s customers rely on him to create the perfect turf for a variety of purposes, such as sporting grounds good enough for professional athletes; a big part of Craig’s work is on sporting grounds, including Chirnside Park in Werribee, Victoria Park in Collingwood and Highgate Reserve in Craigieburn.

Each time of the year brings different challenges… spring sees Evans Turf Services put down the cricket wickets, and autumn’s work involves seeding and fertilising football grounds to create lush, green grass.

But, of course, it’s not just work on sporting fields. Craig has had to work on public parks such as Victoria Park, as well as dog parks, and these projects can come with their own unique set of challenges.

“It’s not uncommon to have 20 dogs running around me while I’m driving a heavy machine,” Craig said.

But with his Isuzu truck, Craig has a greater peace of mind when reversing out of the car park after a long day’s work, thanks to the reversing camera and sensors that pick up everything nearby.

And to make work that extra bit easier, another bonus is the automatic Allison transmission, which made the FYJ a winner for Craig.

Craig said, “I don’t have to worry about changing gears in traffic. That’s an important thing.”

And for a truck that spends a majority of its time travelling to and from different work sites and home, Craig praises the cabin comfort of the Isuzu trucks.

“My line of work generally requires a fair amount of physical exertion, and adding to that there’s all that driving between places… the last thing anyone would want is to be stuck in traffic in an uncomfortable seat while driving, or be confined to a narrow, cramped cab,” he said.

If he needed to, Craig said he would readily buy himself another Isuzu.

But he’s pretty confident this Isuzu FYJ will last him the 15 years before he retires—and he’s pretty content with that.

 

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