Braeden takes the plunge into business

By: Tamara Whitsed, Photography by: Tamara Whitsed, Video by: Tamara Whitsed


Braeden McCarthy left a secure truck driving job to start Earth Haul Excavations in Benalla 12 months ago

 

Braeden McCarthy is only 26 but he already owns a fledgling business in north east Victoria which allows him to indulge his passion for trucks and machines.

The Benalla local completed a plumbing apprenticeship and gained five years of truck driving experience before he established Earth Haul Excavations in his home town last year.

He left a truck-driving job with Brady & Kibble to venture out on his own. He loved driving the company’s 2007 Kenworth K104B Aerodyne, but as he travelled along the Hume Highway he couldn’t help thinking about his childhood dream of running his own business.

Last year he bought a 1985 Mitsubishi FM 515 tip truck and a new Kobelco SK35SR 3.5 tonne excavator and offered his services to plumbers, builders, landscapers and the general public. He has gradually built up a list of clients in Benalla and as far away as Shepparton, Beechworth, Myrtleford and Mansfield, Victoria. Most of his work has been within 100km of his Benalla home.

Braeden behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi.

Braeden was inspired by a friend from his school years, Zac Connell, who established Evergreen Garden & Landscape Solutions at Benalla. Zac has been a great supporter of Braeden’s new business and has even made a corner of his yard available for Braeden to park his truck and excavator.

Braeden’s wife Jessica McCarthy has taken charge of the bookkeeping. This allows Braeden to focus on serving his customers and attracting more business.

"They say the first 12 months of staying in business is the hardest," Braeden says. "It’s coming up to 12 months. I’m surviving and moving forward so it’s definitely working."

He admits there was "a lot of stress, a lot of sleepless nights – always a bit of worry if it’s going to work."

In the beginning, while he gradually attracted more clients, Braeden rolled up his sleeves to work as a labourer or plumber on the quiet days.

And during those wet winter weeks, when the ground was too soft for excavation work, he used his excavator and tipper to collect and cart firewood.

He has been busy since the ground dried out in spring. His customer base has grown and he is optimistic about the future of his business.

EARLY EXPERIENCE

Braeden was in Grade 5 when a close family friend, the late Brian Kipping of Benalla, first let him experience trucking from the passenger seat. "He drove B-doubles for a local transport company in town and every school holidays I’d be in the truck with him," Braeden says.

He enjoyed helping Brian and his son Brendan Kipping while they worked on trucks and machinery in their shed. "I would go around there and wanted to do exactly what they were doing."

Many transport companies don’t allow children to travel in their trucks. But Braeden says his early experiences with the Kipping family influenced his decision to become a truck driver, and proved helpful when he was finally old enough to learn to drive a truck. "I knew a fair bit about trucks and how they operated and changing gears before going to get my licence."

Braeden was too young to drive trucks – or cars for that matter – when he finished school after Year 10. So he completed a plumbing apprenticeship with his father, Peter McCarthy.

Peter encouraged Braeden’s trucking interests. Together they restored an old Ford F500 horse truck. And then, a couple of years into his apprenticeship, Braeden bought a W Model Kenworth as a restoration project. "We put airbag suspension under it, renewed all the exhaust, just tidied it up and painted it."

Braeden's 1985 Mitsubishi FM 515 tipper has an 8 tonne carrying capacity

After completing his apprenticeship Braeden obtained a Heavy Rigid truck licence and was thrilled to find casual work driving an International ACCO and a four-wheel drive MAN for Benalla Bulk Fertilizers in 2013. He was 20, still on P plates, and loved driving to properties as far as Mansfield and Wangaratta. His job included spreading fertiliser on farms, so there were lots of off-road kilometres as well.

When the spreading season came to an end, Braeden obtained his Heavy Combination licence and started knocking on doors in search of a permanent truck driving job. "It was a matter of trying to break that bit of a stigma where people want experienced drivers, and trying to find the first crack to get experience."

Before too long he found work with Martiniello’s Transport. The Benalla company had several trucks running between Adelaide and Albury, and Braeden was employed to finish the bottom end of this run. While drivers rested in Benalla, he drove their trucks on to Albury, unloaded, reloaded, and returned to Benalla.

So for his first couple of months at Martiniello’s he was in and out of several different trucks, shifting his P plates between Kenworths, Western Stars and Internationals. 

P PLATER

After a couple of months Braeden fixed his P plates to Martiniello’s International S Line which pulled a 45 foot (13.7 metre) drop-deck tautliner with mezzanine floors. He was only 21, and many people were surprised to see P plates on the semi as he drove along the Hume between Melbourne and Albury.

"A lot of people said, ‘You look too young. Are you allowed to be driving it?’

"Even other truck drivers said, ‘Someone’s playing tricks on you in the yard, Mate. There’s a P plate on the back.’"

Obtaining finance for his new Kobelco excavator was Braeden’s biggest challenge

He remembers feeling ‘nervous and shaky’ during his first trip to Melbourne. He had to deliver to Sandringham. "I drove down there and I didn’t really like it. I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this’." But his confidence grew with each trip. "After that I loved going to Melbourne."

His work for Martiniello’s included changeovers at Ouyen and Murrayville, Victoria. He also drove the whole Adelaide-Melbourne run a few times.

In July 2015 Braeden began working for Euroa company, Brady & Kibble. "They had a driver leave, and I just enquired at the right time. It’s a company that’s very well respected and hard to get into." He drove a 2007 Kenworth K104B Aerodyne, carting timber products from Benalla to Melbourne and other Victorian locations as far as Colac, Ballarat and Wonthaggi.

Braeden stayed with Brady & Kibble for over three years. During this time he married Jessica, and started dreaming of running his own business.

Selling the partially-restored W Model helped him buy his Mitsubishi tipper outright. But he needed a bank loan to buy the excavator. "They’re not massive on lending money to new start-up businesses," Braeden says.

He presented the bank with letters from local businesses which were eager to use his services. He also showed the bank a cash flow projection prepared by an accountant.

Braeden and Jessica were already buying their own home, and Braeden says this worked in their favour. "It was the first thing [the bank] asked: ‘Do you own property?’"

There have been hurdles along the way, but Braeden is glad he pursued his ambitions. "If you’ve got a passion, a dream, follow it. Life’s too short to sit there and wonder. You’re better off to have a go at something. If it doesn’t work out at least you can say you had a go."

Read about Braeden McCarthy in Owner//Driver's November 2019 edition.

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