“This story first appeared in: EYE ON THE INDUSTRY Magazine”

After a 10-year career in the corporate sector as brand manager for a soap and personal care products manufacturer, Mr Wareham, 36, took a redundancy package during a company restructure and began seeking a change of direction.

The retail marketing role had become frustrating and he wanted an alternative that didn’t involve office work, suits and ties, and ironing shirts every day.

Mr Wareham wanted to work outdoors, be his own boss and enjoy lifestyle flexibility. He conducted extensive research into the franchise industry and found his answer in Jim’s Diggers – the latest in the range of
32 franchised service offerings within the Jim’s Group, owned by entrepreneur Jim Penman.

Mr Wareham’s franchise territory is Cranbourne East, 44km south-east of Melbourne, focused on the developing City of Casey. However, with only three Melbourne franchisees so far in the fledgling Jim’s Diggers group, he’s currently working a broader region than Cranbourne East alone. Mr Wareham is a busy man with more work than he can do, his stable of regular clients is growing and he is confident that soon he will almost be self sufficient and focused on his core region.

Jim’s Diggers franchisees focus on earthmoving, including trenching, digging footings, excavations, levelling, site­ clearing; and lawn, landscaping and paving preparation.

Mr Wareham’s primary tool of trade is his new Vermeer mini skid steer loader S650TX which he tows on a custom-built trailer behind a 6-tonne tip truck. He says having a tracked skid steer loader is a competitive advantage as he can continue working during Melbourne’s frequent wet weather that keeps wheeled-vehicles off the sodden ground.

His S650TX came with an array of attachments: four-in-one bucket, trencher, spreader bar, two augers and a powerhead extension for deep excavations. He says Vermeer assisted him in building a special trailer to easily transport the S650TX and all its attachments. The attachments are simple to plug in, plug out via a universal mounting plate.

Being a self-confessed earthmoving rookie, Mr Wareham was keen to ensure the equipment he purchased was very safe, particularly as he is working alone until the business expands sufficiently for him to employ labourers. He says the S650TX is easy to use with its single joy stick operation. “There’s good support, so you don’t get sore wrists. You’re not too tired, even if you’ve been on the machine all day.

“I looked at other brands but they were harder to control and manoeuvre. I felt a lot more comfortable in the Vermeer,” he says.
‘The steering’s very smooth, even with sudden movements. It slows gradually, rather than jolting to a stop.” Mr Wareham says the spring-cushioned, stand-on rear platform held the operator snugly and securely and had good padding. “You can go up slopes without feeling like you’re about to fall off. The ease with which the operator can hop on and off is particularly useful when drilling post holes.”

The dual tanks – holding 55 litres of fuel – mean he can do several days’ work without needing to refuel.

Mr Wareham says the S650TX was particularly good for residential work because of its compact footprint. It is narrow enough to manoeuvre on small blocks and go around corners into tight backyards. Another advantage is the rear access panel that pops open for easy access to the radiator, electrical system and hydraulic valves to perform routine maintenance.

Mr Wareham says he appreciated the Vermeer sales consultant’s patience during the sale. “I asked lots of questions but he was brilliant at taking me through the process.”

With the City of Casey scheduled to double its current 250,000 population within a decade, Mr Wareham is confident there’ll be ample work as housing estates expand. His five-year plan is to be a project manager and interface with clients, with a team of people and plenty more Vermeer machines to do the “heavy lifting”.