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Adept for any project

Adept Plant Hire is proud of its partnership with John Deere and RDO Equipment. Images: RDO equipment.

Adept Plant Hire has been using John Deere graders since the company was founded. Since then, the company’s fleet, capabilities and partnership with John Deere has only grown stronger.

In 2006/07, former Adept Plant Hire Director and company owner Kevin Jones sought to establish a lasting relationship with a quality provider of grading equipment. This led him to initiate discussions with John Deere.

“At the time, a lot of Australian operators were using another company’s machinery,” Jones says. “When I heard about the John Deere machines, I went out to see them and they actually had a stronger machine, it had more power. They also had the 9-litre Power tech engine, not just the 6.8 litre. That was a big factor, because the John Deere had a damn good engine. It was also a fair bit cheaper, so it was a bit of a no-brainer.

“We knew that going with John Deere was a bit of a risk for us at the time, but we knew they had the trust and quality operators to back that up. Our operators were soon after telling us that they were able to do jobs the same, if not better. They ended up really liking them.”

Jones says that the professional relationship between John Deere and Adept Plant Hire and the support from local John Deere dealer RDO Equipment was significant.

Jones says another contributing factor in his choice to go with John Deere was the manufacturers decision to continue to offer the steering wheel option, alongside the option of joystick or fingertip control design, giving operators the choice of how they want to work.

Adept Plant Hire has now used John Deere equipment for close to two decades.
Adept Plant Hire has now used John Deere equipment for close to two decades.

John Deere graders have formed most of Adept Plant Hire’s machinery fleet ever since, with 16 ‘Deeres’ in the current fleet of 18. In all, they’ve had close to 50 Deere motor graders. 

Equipped with Trimble UTS systems, Adept Plant Hire’s fleet of graders is regularly maintained and updated by RDO Equipment, to ensure that the company can deliver optimal performance.

This has proven key in the company’s ongoing successes working on the Rockhampton Ring Road and the Coomera Connector, two of the largest infrastructure projects in Queensland.

Pete Comerford, along with his wife Teagan, are now both Co-Directors of the company, having taken over from previous owner and heralded founder Kevin Jones. 

A long-time operator at the company, Comerford eventually was elevated to the role of Operations Manager three years ago. After being in this role for only a year, brief discussions between Jones and Comerford led to an enticing opportunity.

“When I became Operations Manager, I was basically running most of the business for Kevin. As time went on, we were growing bigger and bigger, I wanted to re-establish a few things post-COVID to build the company back up,” Comerford says.

“About two years ago, Kevin and I started having conversations about possibly buying into the business and what that could look like. We spent about 18 months discussing that and in July last year we finally locked things into place.”

For Jones, it was a big adjustment. But he says there’s no one he’d rather have running the company.

“[Peter] started working for me when he was young and you could see his potential as a leader. I knew he was the type of person going forward who would be trusted with management, he just needed to learn some skills first,” Jones says.

“He’s taken the bull by the horns. He knows a lot of people in the industry and the biggest thing for me is that he’s got a real passion for the company. It was a bit of a no-brainer, Teagan could see taking up the office managers role. They both loved the idea. We’ve given it a shot and it’s worked. I’m happy to let him take the reins.

“A big thing for me is trust. I trust him and Teagan and they trust me. I don’t think I would’ve been keen to sell or break off the company to someone that’s not as passionate and trusting as Peter is.”

Comerford handles everything from an operations perspective, while Teagan covers the logistics and financial aspects. He says it’s the company’s attention to detail, from its operators to its equipment, that’s helped to maintain its reputation in Queensland.

“I’ve long been impressed and aware of what Kevin had established,” he says. “It’s been around for so long and stood the test of time through the Global Financial Crisis, through the wet weather between 2012 and 2020, it’s withstood a lot of hard times.”

“I knew that Kevin would be around to help as well as a mentor. Now we’re built and ready to withstand whatever the next 20 years throws at us. Having that base to build off, and with the business having such a good reputation, those were the biggest keys for us.”

Teagan says being involved with Adept for such a long time made both of them really love the company and the opportunity and lifestyle it provided, making running the company an exciting prospect.

“It feels quite prestigious. The company has developed a good reputation and very loyal employees. There’s such a good ethos and culture within the company, you really want to be a part of it,” she says.

John Deere difference 

Combining top operators with top machinery is a philosophy that’s been constant throughout Adept Plant Hire’s history. To support this notion, the company uses what Comerford refers to as “industry-leading equipment”. 

“They’re a great machine. In my opinion, they’re a superior machine. I really do think that they’re the best grader in the industry. You might call me shallow, but I also love the way they look. They’ve kept that classy, traditional look,” Comerford says.

Adept Plant Hire’s fleet of 16 late model John Deere graders comprises the 670GP, the 672GP and the 770GP. The G-series graders are known for their balance, performance capabilities and specifications, and increased maximum horsepower, making them suitable for large infrastructure works. 

Adept is a premier grader-hire equipment company that specialises in providing final trim graders and skilled operators up and down the East Coast and on some of the biggest major projects in the country. Some of the graders are fitted with the industry exclusive John Deere Premium Circle option. 


 

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Being in the final trim business, accuracy is key. With Premium Circle, Adept no longer has to compensate for wear in the circle or stop the machine to adjust for looseness of the circle, not to mention the saving on circle maintenance. 

The G-series also supports machinery pre-sets, saving operators time in terms of adjusting functions and machine positions for specific jobs, all with the touch of a button. These features are easily accessible from an operation and maintenance perspective.

“For our operators, the comfort and operation is really great. They’ve also provided great vision. These two things are really important to us, as our guys have to sit in the cabin for around 10 (plus) hours most days,” Comerford says.

“In terms of running them, we’ve rarely had any issues. We’re focused on maintaining them well because we like to have them at a high standard. They’re just a great all-round grader. I’ve had some of the crew who were die-hard for other brands. Once I’ve put them in these machines, they’re more than happy to stay with the John Deere.”

Another big plus is the relationship and partnership that Comerford and Adept Plant Hire have established with their local John Deere dealer, RDO Equipment. 

“They’re really good to us. We buy as many genuine parts as we can, you can ring up and it’s never a problem with those guys,” Comerford says.

Teagan says John Deere and RDO have also been efficient and easy to deal with when it comes to the financial side.

“It’s good to keep building and maintaining that relationship with RDO. We have recently utilised the great John Deere finance deals, and the transactions have gone incredibly smoothly, and we appreciate what they are able to offer us,” she says. 

“Everything that we do with RDO and John Deere seems simple and straightforward, they are receptive to our needs and always have supportive options to help us out. They’re professional and easy to deal with, which I really appreciate.”

Adept Plant Hire’s John Deere graders have worked on projects such as the Coomera Connector.
Adept Plant Hire’s John Deere graders have worked on projects such as the Coomera Connector.

Culture is key 

Having only the best machinery won’t equate to the best results, Comerford says. A key reason why the team takes prospective employees to lunch first is to evaluate whether or not they would be a good fit for the company’s culture.

“A main focus for us is having operators that are of a very high skill level, but if they don’t have good people skills and don’t get along with people, eventually they’ll probably get replaced on jobs,” he says. “Our crew is very skilled and we try to attract good people because of the culture that we’ve built over the last couple of years.

“It’s the people side of things first, along with the machinery, that has given us the foundation to grow into the company that we are today.”

Adept Plant Hire’s mixture of reliability, its attitude and its people make the company easy to deal with. When combined with John Deere graders, Comerford thinks Adept Plant Hire’s package is hard to knock back for projects of all sizes.

“The way that we communicate on our projects and how easy we are to deal with means that there’s never a problem with us. We try and help the project as much as we can. I believe that having that positive attitude has allowed us to win many of the contracts that we have now,” he says.

“Certainly, the operators are important for these projects, but I think Adept Plant Hire as a whole, and being the company that we are, is on the rise and growing, along with our great reputation that continues to grow is a real factor. 

“There’s very few that you talk to in the major project industry in Queensland that don’t know Adept Plant Hire, don’t know our John Deere graders, and don’t know some of our operators. That’s in part due to Kevin (Jones) and the reputation that he built as well.” 

The future of Adept Plant Hire looks bright, so does the company’s ever-growing relationship with John Deere and RDO Equipment. Comerford says the company’s potential in the next five to ten years is what really excites him.

“We’ve got different ideas that could potentially change the business, but not its fundamentals or foundation. We want to keep that intact. Adept’s been set up really well, it’s got great people, it’s got a great history. We never want to change that,” he says. 

“It feels like a real family company, especially now that we’ve got three kids running around the office. A lot of our operators have kids, that’s part of our positive culture.”

Teagan says she looks forward to growing upon the impact that she and Peter have already made.

“We’re always looking to improve and I like that about our operators as well. They’re constantly looking to get better,” she says. 

“We’re having such a good time creating that culture and maintaining it. We love working with each other and with our team and we want Adept to be a destination company where people want to come to work because they’re having a good time and feel appreciated. I think our employees could testify to that as well.”

Want to know more about Adept Plant Hire? Visit their website – adeptplanthire.com.au 

This article was originally published in the April edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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