Cates Bros in Whangarei placed the first order for a Volvo FM500 base spec tipper on the day the unit was released into the New Zealand market — and a week later, Snow Cates committed to a second unit.
“We’ve had a strong relationship with Carl Capstick at MTD Trucks for over 25 years — he always delivers on his commitments. When he brings us something new to take a look at, we know it’s worth considering,” said Snow. The Volvo is a universal truck – it’s big enough to for linehaul work but small enough for local site and rural excavator work – it’s really well-suited to our business.”
Cates Bros is a dynamic, family-run haulage operation that works throughout Northland — from Cape Reinga in the north to Mount Maunganui daily, carting farm and construction supplies like fertiliser, sulphur, palm kernel, aggregate, sealing chip and hot mix. In addition to line haul, Cates Bros operate in Northland Road Maintenance contracts and are a regular subcontractor for Fulton Hogan in the region. Snow also subs in other local contractors and operators at peak times to supplement the manpower available to work his own contracts. Several of these contractors have since purchased and placed further orders for the Volvo FM500 base spec tipper variant.
“Our Volvo FM’s have been spec’d up with local Brian Morgan Alloy Bodies and four axle trailers, operating at their maximum GCM,” commented Snow. “They’ve really proved their worth. They are economical, flexible and driver-friendly. The 13 litre engine at 500 HP and 2500 nm of torque works well with the 12 speed ‘I’ shift transmission and Volvo drive train - it makes for a surprisingly powerful combination. And it’s all included as a standard part of the base spec.”
While Snow multitasks from dispatching in the office to driving trucks and earthmoving machinery in the field, his wife Nicole handles the administration and accounts while managing health and safety requirements. His brother Scally is on the road, driving one of the new Volvo trucks.
“I like the flexibility of the Volvo,” commented Snow. “We run a diverse, fast-moving business with little down-time. The Volvo trucks are a good workhorse across a wide range of jobs. The drivers like the safety-conscious, easy-entry cab – it’s a great environment. That’s important, especially when there’s not so many drivers out there.”
Carl has supplied almost all the trucks in the Cates Bros fleet over the years. They currently run 17 various trucks and trailer units of their own (predominately Macks with three Volvos) but sometimes dispatch up to 30 trucks a day across their contracts. In addition to the two base spec Volvo tippers, Snow has recently added a Volvo transporter, with a new FM540 Volvo on the way — due for delivery in February 2019.