From little things, big things grow

Sparked by an idea centred around improving safety for a busy quarry, a Tassie landscape business has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.

Paul and Denise Harriss started Leslievale Landscape & Gravel Supplies 16 years ago.

Paul had been working as a truck driver for construction and transport company Hazell Bros. The quarry here is large enough to produce over one million tonnes of crushed dolerite per annum, alongside various other aggregate materials such as white rock.

As a driver, Paul would transport rock from the quarry to projects off site, initially as an employee and then as a subcontractor. After a few years spent weaving through quarry traffic, from trucks to excavators and external visitors picking up materials, Paul came up with an idea to help improve safety for all entering the site.

The idea was to build a purpose-built landscaping materials facility, situated in front of the quarry, which would eliminate casual visitors from having to enter the actual quarry.

“There was a recognition from all parties that having small vehicles running in around the big machines was a potential OH&S issue,” said Paul.

“I think Hazell Bros definitely saw value in my proposal and hence the landscape yard began.”

In 2004, Paul and Denise were given the green light to launch Leslievale Landscape & Gravel Supplies, which was the start of a close, ongoing partnership with the quarry and Hazell Bros that continues today.

In Paul’s words, it was a “small beginning” and the business moved with the seasons: in the warmer months demand picked up as customers launched into renovation projects and then lessened during winter.

With Tassie’s cool climate, Paul figured delivering firewood to nearby residents throughout winter would keep the business busy throughout the winter.

Aided by the fact that Tasmanians are the greatest consumers of firewood in Australia, using approximately 5.8 tonnes per household, per year, Paul successfully took this new venture to market, using wood taken from sustainable local plantations.

Leslievale Landscape & Gravel Supplies is now one of the largest suppliers of firewood in the southern part of Tasmania.

Carting loads of firewood and other materials that weighed anywhere between one to six tonnes a load, Paul began to struggle with trucks that couldn’t deliver returns on performance or payload.

“We started off with the two-tonner but quickly moved on to a 4.5 tonne truck, but still weren’t happy with it.

“We initially picked these trucks because of the price, and we were a fresh little business, but it really backfired for us in the end.

“I went searching for a better truck with Isuzu and really haven’t looked back since getting our first FRR 500.”

Paul went on to purchase three Isuzu FRR 500 Tippers, two NQR 450 Tippers, and his latest acquisition, an NMR 60-150 AMT Tipper.

Opting for Isuzu’s 6000 kg GVM and 9500kg GCM option over a 4500kg GVM model for bigger payload at a nimble size, Paul said his NMR Tipper is the perfect truck to cart big loads around semi off-road tracks and cluttered yards.

“Down south, we deal with a lot of challenging sites where people think we can get a truck in where they can get their minibike,” Paul said.

“Lots of gravel roads, and we probably spend 50 per cent of our driving time uphill. Our Isuzu trucks perform well, especially in terms of their ability to grip the road while carrying a load.”

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