Troy Calteaux of Andrew Haulage 2011 Ltd faced off against some of the Otago region’s top excavator operators to take his third regional title in the CCNZ CablePrice Otago Regional Excavator Operator Competition on 23 January at the Taieri A&P Show in Mosgiel.
Calteaux, 34, of Milton previously won the national final of the CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition in 2018, but did not defend his title due to the birth of his first child. Now he is looking forward to battling it out at nationals once again.
“I put my family before anything. But not coming up [to defend the national title] in 2019 was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life,” he said.
He will represent the Otago region at the CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition in March at Central Districts Field Days in Feilding, competing against eleven other regional champions as well as current defending champion Riki Lum of Northland, who won the 2019 national title.
Calteaux’s victory was not without its ups and downs. On the painting challenge, he broke the brush on the final stroke, opening the door for a two-time regional competition winner Josh Keane of Cargill Contracting, a talented and consistent operator who took third place at the 2019 National Excavator Operator Competition.
“I knew there were only ten seconds left on the clock for the painting challenge, so I rushed it and the brush broke. I didn’t think I had it after that… I beat myself up to the point where I made sure the rest of the course was perfect,” Calteaux said.
“There were some good operators out there. Josh is one of the best I have ever met. We’re really alike. Pretty cruisy on the outside. But on the inside, we take it really seriously. I know he’s got that edge too.”
Sixteen of the region’s top excavator operators entered the competition. Tasks ranged from showcase challenges such as ‘slam-dunking’ a basketball into a two-storey concrete tower to on-the-job tasks such as traversing over a pipe without touching it or precision-loading two tonnes of earth into an earthmoving truck.
2016 CCNZ Otago Young Contractor of the Year Maija Onzule of Wanaka won the social/non-member section and said she would put her name in the hat to win the top division in next year’s competition with the hope of going on to the national finals.
“It was really fun. Would I rather be sitting at home? No. I’d rather come out and test my skills with some digging. It’s a fun thing for sure”.
Up-and-coming operator Jack Hadland of SouthRoads was competing in the national division for the first time after placing second in the social division last time around. Next year, he hoped to be “in it to win it”.
He said the calibre of operators competing in Otago made it “one of the toughest regional competitions around at the moment”, with the field also including all-rounder and site foreman Ciaran Fromont and Civil Trades certified operator Chris Moore of SouthRoads.
Competition organiser Aaron Chave of CCNZ Otago and Hirepool Dunedin Branch thanked national Platinum sponsor CablePrice for providing state-of-the-art Hitachi excavators for the competition, and national competition sponsors Connexis, FirstGas, Hirepool, Humes, Pirtek and Z Energy for their support.
Local sponsors included Hollands Excavation, Total Harvest, Transdiesel, Marshall Ag & Baleage, McEwan Haulage, Road Metals, AdvanceQuip, Fleet Review Services, Heavy Trax Hire, Road Materials, Enzed Otago / HCD Flowtech, Hynds, Terra Cat, Hino, Fulcrum Equipment, BNZ and Fulton Hogan Dunedin.
Competition photos are available on the CCNZ CablePrice Excavator Operator Competitions Facebook Album>>
Competition winner: Troy Calteaux, Andrew Haulage 2011 Ltd
Runner-up: Josh Keane, Cargill Contracting
Third place: Chris Moore, SouthRoads
Social/non-member division: Maija Onzule
Humes Good Bastard Award: Taine Michie, Andrew Haulage 2011 Ltd
Challenge Trophy (top company score): Andrew Haulage Ltd