Cover Story: Makin Traks builds to scale

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Farmers make up 50 per cent of the business for second-hand dozer dealer Daz Scale and the team at Makin Traks – and they set out to get them the right machine for the job

Based at Yandina on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Makin Traks has been in the business of selling premium second-hand dozers for about 10 years – with over 1,200 sold so far.

While the company has recently branched out into selling refurbished John Deeres and Komatsus, most units sold are Caterpillar dozers, ranging from the 77.6kW (104 horsepower) D3 model to the 283kW (380hp) D8 model.

Scale says the Cat D6 is his most popular model – large enough to be highly productive and small enough to fit on a truck bed.

"Typically, a D3 is a hobby farmer and a small contractor, a D4 or D5 you are doing more contractor work at bigger farms, and a D6 is full contracting and big, big farm work," he says.

Scale adds that bigger is not always better – saying that he consults with farmers about the size of their properties and what work they’re planning on carrying out as a first step in the process.

"I advise them to get a machine that will do about 80 per cent of the work required, because you will never get a machine that will do all of it," he says.

"Get one that covers 80 per cent and then, if you need to, you can hire a bigger or smaller machine for that one week or month timeslot where you need to make up the other 20 per cent."

The Cat D6 is the most popular model sold

Scale adds that he makes sure the second-hand equipment the company sells is deserving of its "premium" label.

"We only do premium second hand. That is the best you can get for the hours that are represented on the machine... as straight as possible and in as original condition as possible that hasn’t been logged or bent up or backed around," says Scale.

"Our main point of difference is getting the machines ready. If we see an issue, we fix it and nothing goes on the truck unless it is job ready."

The process of getting a dozer ready for sale starts with the dozer’s service history and, where available, an ECM product status report that allows Makin Traks to verify the hours worked.

"When it comes to machinery and especially dozers, it’s what you don’t see that often needs the repairs and often costs the most to repair," says Scale.

Makin Traks sells second-hand dozers on the Sunshine Coast

Typically, Makin Traks will repair and replace bearings, hydraulic hoses, air-conditioning, seals, equaliser bars and line boring, as well as installing sweeps, screens and a multiple shank ripper – a series of tasks that costs between $5,000 and $15,000 to complete.

"They’re not just a Dulux makeover... we keep it as original as possible, do all the mechanical repairs it requires to make it job ready, and then, if the customer wants a presentation package, you can sandblast and paint as to customer request," says Scale.

"That is the whole premise why we sell the volume that we do, because people know, once they have got the product, it has gone through the workshop. It is sold with the workshop report, it comes with a complimentary handover folder with documentation of what has been done on the machine with all the repairs that have taken place and then all the service records on it so they can go ‘right, I know this has been done and catered for’."

The handover pack Scale prepares for all units sold contains information including verification of the hours on the clock, the serial and engine numbers and an indication of any repairs that need attention or will in the foreseeable future.

Of course, knowing whether a machine is job-ready requires understanding the job that the machine will be required to perform – whether it’s a different task week to week or working solidly at one place for a six-month stint.

Makin Traks prides itself on ensuring all machines are fully fit for purpose before sale

Scale says most dozer buyers are involved in broadacre cropping, with many looking to rotate the soil in preparation for their next crop, as well as installing dams, driveways batters and fence lines.

"A 200hp [149kW] dozer, because of the way it gets the power to the ground, will replace a 400hp [298kW] tractor in its pulling capacity because of the weight over it and the tracks in the ground, compared to just four tyres," he says.

"We do customised hydraulic valving on the back of the dozer, and if a plough is needed, customised hydraulic valving is an option for ploughing the paddocks."

Farmers also commonly seek out tree pushers, stick rakes, cutter bars and pipe layers, says Scale – some made in-house and others built to spec by Bryan Zelinski Engineering at nearby Murgon.

"We do all the work that we need to do to get it right from our side of it, and then we send it out to them and then they do fabrication of those bigger rakes and tree pushers and those kinds of things. I highly recommend them, they do standout quality gear," says Scale.

For Scale, taking care of customers by looking out for details big and small has led to a good reputation and a loyal customer base.

"A lot of these dozers sell with deposits before we even see them, but whether they are sold with a deposit or not, it has still got to go through the workshop... That is, whatever it takes, so it goes on the truck job-ready," he says.

"You have got to be looking at it as the big picture and doing unto others what you would have them do unto you."

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