The John Deere 850L: equipped with confidence

Elbourne Plant Hire’s Adam Elbourne explains how John Deere products have earned and maintained his trust over the years.

Elbourne Plant Hire has been operating in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales for over 25 years. Over that time, the family-run business has developed a productive working relationship with John Deere’s products.

After around a decade working as a sole trader, Phillip Elbourne started the business in 1996 as a small jack-of-all-trades operation, covering everything from logging to power pole maintenance to general works and road maintenance for local councils.

Since then, it has grown into a large regional plant hire operation, supplying machinery and operators to a range of local industries and councils, while still offering a versatile range of contract services.

What’s in a name?

Adam Elbourne, Managing Director and son of Phillip, says Elbourne Plant Hire’s confidence in John Deere machinery started with his father in the early days of the business.

“When we entered power line maintenance, we were doing a lot of work on some really tough terrain,” Elbourne says. “Under the power lines you get all sorts of hills, gullies, creeks and dips, and our John Deere tractor was the only one that could hold up.

“That experience gave John Deere a really good name within our company,” he says. “Then we bought a 670B, one of John Deere’s first graders, which I learned to operate in. And it just built from there.

“Now we’ve got more equipment with the John Deere name on it than we ever have.”

Turning heads

Elbourne Plant Hire has recently purchased its second John Deere 850L Crawler Dozer from its local dealer RDO Equipment, as well as a 772G Motor Grader.

The business purchased its first 850L in mid-2020 for the wet hire side of the business, and following high demand, purchased another soon after.

Elbourne says all his customers have been very impressed with the power, reliability and efficiency the machines offer.

“There’d been a lot of interest to start with – especially because they are very different looking machines,” he says. “People had a lot of questions, and then customers started calling up really wanting to try them out.”

The 850L features a range of improvements over the previous 850K iteration, including boosts to power, reduced emissions, and greater operator comfort.

It features an upgrade from a 6.8-litre to a 9-litre engine, yielding 10 per cent more engine power and 23 per cent more peak torque. The machine can also be switched into Eco Mode, enabling fuel savings of up to 20 per cent.

The 13 per cent larger hydrostatic pumps also mean boosts to productivity, durability, and control.

Elbourne says the machines have been popular with his staff too.

“I’m always interested to talk to the operators about them,” he says. “We had an experienced operator start a few months ago who had never used a John Deere machine before, and was keen to give it a go.

“He’s a real bulldozer fanatic, and he couldn’t believe how good the 850L felt to operate. It just really ticked all the boxes for him.”

Elbourne Plant Hire
Adam Elbourne (right) with dozer operator Mick Mate.

Supporting the locals

According to Elbourne, John Deere’s dozer products have historically not had much of a presence in Australia – but he doesn’t think that will be the case for much longer.

“People are seeing the quality of the machines,” he says. “Now, it seems like they can’t get them into the country fast enough.”

When RDO Equipment expanded into Australia in 2019, the support network for John Deere construction machinery grew substantially.

Elbourne says that while he has never had any major issues with his John Deere machines, seeing RDO Equipment grow its local presence has been good for business.

“We used to travel into Sydney for parts,” he says. “So, it’s much easier having them local. They’ve really established themselves in the area, which is good for them, and it’s good for businesses like us.”

Elbourne Plant Hire is more than capable of handling the service and maintenance of its John Deere machines internally, but Elbourne says RDO Equipment’s presence nearby has meant the company can count on them when things get busy.

“I think it really says something for the quality of the John Deere machines that we’d previously never had a local dealer, and it was never a problem,” he says. “That’s how confident we’ve been with John Deere in the past, and it’s never gotten in the way of us using their products.”

Even having the local RDO sales team around has been a bonus. Elbourne says his RDO Equipment representative is often checking in to offer support.

“They’ve been really helpful – beyond just selling the equipment,” he says. “They’re always more than willing to assist if there’s an issue – they always make themselves available to us.”

Original article by Roads & Infrastructure Australia in conjunction with John Deere.