Kuchel Contractors

Kuchel Contractors was started post World War II and spent its early days transporting mining products, fertiliser and gravel throughout the state of South Australia.

In recent years however, the transportation of recycled products has become Kuchel Contractors’ specialty. The company now carts organic green waste from the Barossa Valley to Jeffries Buckland Park composting facility and then distributes the finished product throughout South Australia.

Since Kuchel Contractors began, it has remained family owned and operated. The company now operates under the leadership of Tony and Anne Kuchel, supported by their family and staff of approximately 30 people. 

“The business has changed immensely since it was first established by my father in 1950,” explains Tony. “Over time, we have moved from transporting mainly minerals, and while we still do this to some degree, as well as carting a wide range of other bulk products including produce, we are most heavily involved with the recycling industry.

“Only 20-30 years ago, there was nowhere near as much recycling taking place as what there is now – recycling just wasn’t a priority. But as people have become more environmentally conscious, especially in recent years, there has been a shift towards more recycling and preventing products being unnecessarily brought to landfill sites when they can be reused for other things.”

And it’s not only the transport task of Kuchel Contractors that has seen such a shift. The 18 strong fleet of bulk tippers and Western Star prime movers are a far cry from the original rigid truck that Kuchel Contractors started out with. “There weren’t all that many trailers back in 1950 when the business began,” says Tony. “But things have changed and trucks have gotten bigger over time. We’ve gone from single drive trucks to tandem drive trucks and then progressed to two, three and four axle trailers as well as B-doubles.”

The majority of trailers in the Kuchel Contractors’ fleet operate as 19 or 25 metre B-doubles, however the company also operates rigids, dog trailers, semi trailers and a moving floor trailer.

There are currently 10 trailers in the fleet built by local manufacturer Barry Stoodley, with the remaining eight trailers manufactured by Hamelex White and purchased from its South Australian dealer, Transport Connection. These trailers are all towed by a fleet of Western Star prime movers.

Tony says that the company has been dealing with Barry Stoodley for almost 30 years and began dealing with Hamelex White five years ago. He asserts that he has continued to use equipment from these manufacturers not only because of the exceptional quality of the product, but also because of the back-up service he receives which is aided by the fact that the trailers are all purchased locally.

The latest trailer added to the fleet was a custom built Hamelex White 25 metre B-double which was delivered and put to work in March. Water level loading was a requirement of the company when ordering this combination to ensure correct axle weights, and the use of a front-mounted hoist on the B trailer helped to achieve this.

As with all trailers in the fleet, this combination is fully sealed and watertight to avoid leakage of the load. “Presentation of the fleet is always important. The insides of the trailers need to be thoroughly cleaned to avoid any cross contamination as we carry so many different products, and that can become difficult if you have leaks in the trailer, so we need to ensure that our trailers are all watertight. The outside of the trucks and trailers are also regularly washed and cleaned – it is important to run a clean fleet and look the part as well,” says Tony.

Each new trailer purchased is now specced with submarine doors to the front of the trailer. This is a key safety feature that provides operators with easy internal access. “Trailers need to be washed out regularly because of the types of products we are carrying and using submarine doors is a much safer alternative than drivers having to climb over the top of the trailer,” says Tony.

To further increase safety, new trailers are also fitted with ground operated tarp systems.

Kuchel Contractors is currently considering implementing more trailers to the growing fleet to cope with the increased demand of its services, particularly the increased demand for recycled products as environmental concern becomes more and more prevalent.

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