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Feature Article

Grass is greener with Canter

Wellington’s notoriously tight, winding driveways were not designed for truck access – but that hasn’t stopped the capital’s largest landscaping business, Aspen Landscapes, from adding four 6T FUSO Canters to its fleet.

Co-founder Stuart Baines, who started the company with his wife Jodi around 17 years ago, says that getting a truck was “the next natural step” in the business’ evolution.

“We were incurring increasing costs from servicing some of our older utes – that, combined with the cost of hiring trucks and paying for deliveries, just didn’t stack up any more, so I started looking at trucks.”

Stuart didn’t choose FUSO first up and warns “don’t get me started” when asked how that worked out.

“We’ve still got it, but our next truck was a 616 Canter Tipper and we now have three of them, plus a 616 Canter Flat Deck. I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

Providing design, landscape construction, horticultural and maintenance services, Aspen Landscapes’ success can be attributed to staying a step ahead in industry trends, but also conquering the unique challenges landscapers face in Wellington’s typography. 

“It took a while to work out how to efficiently deal with the steepness of Wellington properties, while sticking to a schedule and making sure the result was aesthetically appealing. At the same time, the tricky terrain is the bread and butter of landscaping, as almost everyone needs a retaining wall – or a few!”

Stuart says the Canter 616 thrives in these hard-to-access sites.

“These Canters have such compact bodies — even the wing mirrors are tightly tucked in, which is a small detail but really makes a difference. Our other brand of truck is always getting banged up on narrow driveways and tight access points.

“Our drivers haven’t had a single issue with them – and in fact, they are always the first vehicles to get booked out.

“The team love the mobility and user-friendliness. For me, it’s nice knowing the trucks can be driven on a Class 1 licence. We’ve got designated drivers, but if they’re needed elsewhere, one of the others can still get behind the wheel — it provides flexibility.”

Aspen’s team now numbers 40 full-time staff, and 24 vehicles. All four Canters in the fleet are manual – “I guess I’m a bit old-school,” admits Stuart.

The three tippers haul soil, gravel, pavers and other materials in their 3m3 bins, sometimes pulling a digger. The flat deck, bought pre-built through Keith Andrews, is equipped with a ladder rack and drop sides. It carts soft landscaping supplies such as plants, fertiliser, and 20m x 3.6m rolls of synthetic grass.

“Those rolls are heavy! It takes two people to lift them, so having drop sides and a low deck height makes the job of loading and unloading them that much easier.”

After his initial poor experience with a truck, Stuart researched thoroughly before opting for FUSO – and he continues to keep his eye on the market.

“I don’t see any reason to change,” says Stuart. “I’m more than happy. The price is great and after seeing what other brands cost for the specs they have, it’s pretty clear to me that Canter is giving us a good return on our investment.

“The affordability, fuel economy, servicing, professional look, and robustness of the units have really hit the nail on the head for what our business needs. Daniel Beavis of First Commercials is also great to deal with – no hassle and always there to help.”

It looks as though, in Canter, Aspen Landscapes has found a hardy perennial that fits perfectly with the masterplan.

 

Canter 616 Tipper

GVM: 5,995kg

Power/Torque: 110kW / 370Nm

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Service intervals: 30,000km

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