Where the grass is greener: Family business keeps wheels turning

Family owned and operated since 1987, Turfco harvests premium turf and delivers it across the Illawarra, South Coast, and Southern Highlands areas of NSW.

The turf is grown in beautiful green pastures about two hours south of Sydney in the picturesque town of Berry, at their home base on a 150-acre farm.

But as the company reveals, variable weather and moisture levels can cause difficult conditions on the farm, meaning the weight of a truck filled with product is never a set number for Turfco.

“In favourable weather, a pallet of turf can weigh around 600kg but in wet weather, which has been pretty prevalent the last few years, it can get up to 1.8 tonnes.”

With an eye to future business growth, Turfco’s general manager, Marcus Rogers, decided the fleet could use the help of a vehicle that had payload capacity to handle the rainy season and ease the burden of unpredictable weather for the business.

Marcus Rogers with young Denver.

He visited Dwyers Truck Centre in Coniston, NSW and settled on a new Isuzu FYJ 300-350 Auto twin-steer truck. Featuring a GVM of 30,000kg and a GCM of 45,000kg, the FYJ 300-350 8×4 is capable of carrying huge quantities of turf or anything else that needs transporting for Turfco.

The FYJ twin steer model was specifically chosen for its weight bearing and load sharing advantages, with four axles providing the advantage of more flexible weight distribution and stability than smaller trucks in their existing fleet.

The FYJ’s 6-cylinder engine packs plenty of punch with an output of 257 kW at 2000 rpm and maximum torque of 1422 Nm at 1400 rpm. The truck also features ABS braking, a Front Underrun Protection Device (FUPD), and a load sharing front suspension equaliser with shock absorber fitted as standard.

Rogers said Turfco had been using a variety of Isuzu trucks for decades, starting the fleet with second-hand Isuzu SBRs before buying their first brand new truck in 2002.

The fleet has since expanded to five trucks, all purchased from their local Isuzu dealership, which they’ve dealt with since the late 90s.

“With our new twin steer FYJ, we can get more grass on the back than ever before. This means fewer trips and a shorter workday for everyone, which makes life a lot easier,” said Rogers.

More than a third of the staff at Turfco joined the business over ten years ago, with retirement being the main cause of most staff leaving the farm.

“You spend so much of your life at work, if you can make it a nice environment to be in, you hope that people will stick around a bit longer,” said Rogers.

“We’re a family business and we certainly try to treat every member of staff like extended family too.”

One long running team member, Norm, even has his own timber mill called ‘Normill’, which the farm uses to produce pallets in winter when the fields are quiet.

In terms of the company’s operations, Rogers says, “Everything is done on apps, all the way down to our trucks – all of our Isuzu trucks have trackers in them, which give us automated ETAs to pass on to customers.

“I think our point of difference is rooted in our service to customers… we like to show people that we appreciate them.”

The company’s unofficial mascots are regularly painted in various themes.

The farm also features Turfco’s unofficial mascot cows, which are painted for any occasion that tickles the fancy of business owner (and resident artist) Scott Parker.

“Most recently he was getting them ready for the release of the Barbie movie,” laughed Rogers.

“It’s just something fun we do to engage the community and ties in with lots of other things we do for the community and charity groups.”

On top of their active involvement in their local community and charities, Turfco also believe in education. A recent event saw the doors to the farm cast open to allow customers to learn more about the growing and harvesting processes and the work that goes into consistently producing their high quality grass.

“We do lots of educational days on the farm for our customers as well,” explained Rogers.

“We had one early in July which saw about 130 of our commercial customers come on the farm and learn about different types of grass applications, the machinery we use, and we had our full line-up of Isuzu trucks on display there as well.”

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