Waipawa based Barker Contractors has gone from being a jack of all trades to a specialist roading contractor, leading the way with new innovations.
Business owner Michael Barker returned from a five year working stint in Australia back in 1980 and has taken the business of a journey of expansion, both in services and staff numbers, to evolving into a niche contractor that works across Hawke’s Bay.
At one stage, the business was doing everything from forestry roading, agricultural contracting, general earthmoving, fibre, drainage, council and roading work to quarry ownership.
“It actually started to feel as if it was getting out of hand. It doesn’t take much to trip you up when you’re running several operations under the one business,” Michael says.
A new direction was needed and Michael brought on John Masters, who had retired from the corporate world, as general manager.
“It was the best thing I could have done, as I had someone that I could bounce ideas off,” he says.
“We got rid of forestry, the bulldozers, transporters, some truck and trailers, the “big diesel items”, reduced the quarries to one, rebranded the company, and looked toward delivering a specialised chip sealing operation, complementing the work we wanted to retain and servicing a market that the larger roading companies weren’t really interested in. We also purchased new graders, rollers, a road mill – all the toys really needed for this change.”
“We started using Emulsion Chip Surfacing technology which came recommended to us and also had the Clean Green tick.”
The product called CRS-2 sourced from roading contractor Higgins to seal over the high-grade aggregates, which is produced at Barker’squarry. The CRS-2 is contained
in a stainless steel 6,000 litre spray tanker unit Barker built and designed with the engineering design firm, Randal & Associates and Deakin Engineering, which constructed the unit.
Unlike the butane methods used on traditional Bitumen tankers to keep the product hot, a 30Kva generator was fitted to heat the CRS-2 and also power the tankers operations, something Michael thinks is a New Zealand first.
“The process is known as emulsion spraying and it’s proving to be a game-changer for us, offering clients a positive and more environmentally friendly option than the traditional process.
“The quality of finish, ease of application and providing a service that was thought of as being unaffordable to the home owner has been very rewarding. Previously concrete, pavers or gravel finishes were the only option, not now,” he says.
One key advantage in using emulsion is derived from the fact that it is flexible, but with strength. “It will stretch if necessary but also returns to its original shape.”
As well as the Green tick, it also ticks the Health and Safety boxes for both the public and those working on the sealing operation. CRS-2 only needs to be heated to 75 degrees Celsius, which helps eliminate the risks of burns. “There is a You Tube video example of Downers applying RS1 Emulsion to the runway on Great Barrier, which shows the uptake in these products in both strength and acceptance in the commercial world.
Michael says the unit is exceeding all expectations.
“We knew there was a niche market because the bigger roading companies just weren’t really interested in taking on smaller jobs like sealing driveways and since starting this operation last year, we’ve been very busy, and certainly getting more and more enquiry.”
This year Barkers sprayed a residential subdivision as well as a huge commercial carpark in Hastings, on top of all the domestic work that has been undertaken.
Barkers Contractors is committed to helping young sports people in CHB achieve their sporting goals, by sponsoring the Central Hawke’s Bay Rugby Club Senior grades for a number of years as well as supprting young Waipukurau golfer Lucy Owen achieve her goal to earning a scholarship to play golf at an American University.
“I happen to think that if someone is into their sport it’s a good thing and should be encouraged as much as possible, keeps kids off the streets, gives focus and direction.”
For full details of all the services the company offers, go to their website www.barkercontractors.co.nz