Brothers Nigel and Wayne Smith understand the importance of wise investments, and when to take a calculated punt – an approach that has helped them grow Smiths Hire into one of the largest independent equipment hire companies in New Zealand.
“We’ve got 20 diggers and 150 trailers, along with a range of tractors and other earth moving equipment,” says Nigel, who founded the Christchurch-based business with Wayne 26 years ago. “I don’t think there are any other independent operators in the country that would have those sorts of numbers on a single yard.”
Among the latest additions are three Canter 616 City Tippers, following a ‘gamble’ a couple of years ago that has since paid back in spades.
“We bought our first three Canter Tippers back in 2015. They came at a good price and with a good reputation, but we weren’t sure how much demand there would be,” says Nigel. “Sometimes you just have to put something on the yard and hope for the best.
“It turned out to be a hit with our customers and we have since bought three more. We’ve even had customers decide to buy their own after hiring one!”
The only truck in its class with a limited slip diff, the nimble six-tonne GVM tipper is equally at home on muddy worksites as it is navigating narrow urban streets. With a payload of around three tonnes and able to be driven on a regular car licence, the truck’s versatility and ease of operation make it equally popular among “weekend warriors” and commercial contractors, says Nigel.
“That versatility is important for us, because the trucks are used for various applications in different environments.
“The way the manual gearbox is set up is also a plus, because it’s just like driving a car – anyone get behind the wheel and feel comfortable.”
The ergonomically designed cab boasts the kinds of features enjoyed by most car owners, such as driver’s airbag, Bluetooth compatibility, keyless central locking and air conditioning – all of which make stepping into a Canter a breeze for the uninitiated.
Nigel says it has proved a good alternative for customers who need a trailer but don’t have a tow bar on their car, with the tipper providing added convenience as well as being easier to manoeuvre.
Another trend is that customers who need a digger will often hire the tipper as a package deal. “The cost to hire the Canter isn’t too much more than the delivery cost for the digger,” Nigel explains, “for just a little more outlay, they can have both for the day.”
Hire vehicles traditionally get rougher treatment than those in a company fleet or run by owner-drivers – but Nigel says the Canters have proven to be tough and reliable units, well supported by the team at Prestige Commercial Vehicles in Christchurch.
“Prestige has been brilliant,” says Nigel. “They’ve got a really good stock of spare parts and any servicing they do for us, they provide a quick turnaround on.
“We’re really happy with the relationship, and with our investment, and we’ll definitely look to add more Fuso trucks in the future.”
Canter 616 City Tipper
Tare weight – 2,630 kg
Power/Torque – 110kW / 370Nm
Transmission – 5-speed manual
Service intervals – 30,000 km