Leaving it all on the field

10 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 28, 2018

Photo: Morgan Spreading is running a Scania and a Mercedes-Benz head-to-head on the front line. Only time will tell.

If things had turned out differently, 27-year-old Brad Morgan could have been patrolling the beat in a police uniform, but the opportunity to buy his own fertiliser spreading business was too good to turn down.

After leaving school in Putaruru, Brad signed on as a Camp America counsellor and spent three months in Casco, Maine. Located seven hours north of New York, he taught children to waterski, which he says wasn‘t bad for a summer job. Brad stayed on for a few weeks when his time at Camp America ended, and when he returned home he applied to join the New Zealand Police, something he‘d always wanted to do.

Photo: Brad Morgan, was given an opportunity to do something for himself and took it with both hands.

“I had been in the Air Training Corps, 34 Squadron in Tokoroa. I was on the waiting list for the police and had to do regular physicals, so I did fill-in jobs while waiting for my application to be accepted. I loved farming – apart from milking cows – and anything agricultural, so I wanted to work for a contracting company.”

Brad saw a vacancy for a job spreading fertiliser for Bruce Leonard and went to work for him. After three years he bought an Isuzu FTS 650 off Bruce and became an ownerdriver, later trading the Isuzu in on an Iveco Eurocargo. After two years as an owner-driver, Bruce said he wanted to sell the business and Brad stepped up to buy it. “I renamed it Morgan Spreading Ltd. I‘ll have been operating for three years in August and I now have three trucks. I bought his gear and I also had my own Iveco and trailer from being an owner-driver.” Since he bought the business Brad has replaced the Isuzus and the 2013 Iveco. The fleet now has a 2007 MAN TGM, and two recent additions, a 2017 Scania P360 and 2017 Mercedes-Benz Atego 1630, as well as two trailers. The Atego is the first of the new model on New Zealand roads. Two of the trucks have twin spinner application systems designed for spreading large quantities of fertiliser over a wide area with the minimum number of passes.

Photo: Sometimes getting to the paddock is as hair-raising as the paddock.

Photo: Brad at the wheel, wrestling the Scania around.

Photo:  A work place Brad Morgan loves, servicing an industry he loves being a part of.

“ Warren Auger Bins of Matamata refurbished the Automatt Trailer. Director Bradley Scott wanted to do something different – he built the new deck and the whole top of the trailer, which is a Domett. I‘ve also bought a 2016 Endraulic loader.” As well as Brad and full-time worker Daniel Graham, Brad‘s father, Richard, helps out part-time when needed. Brad‘s partner, Nicole Davey, also helps in the busy period, keeping everyone fed, and helping around the yard cleaning trucks. Brad hopes eventually to have three full-time workers. “Dad is a dairy farmer but he drove a truck for years. From October to 24 December we run the three trucks, then in January and February just the two, then between March and May we run three again.”

Brad says he took on the goodwill of the existing business when he bought it in 2015.

“I knew all the clients from being there for six years and it came with a loyal customer base. Since then I have built the business up and picked up a few more clients along the way.” Morgan Spreading Ltd does a variety of ground spreading, from crops and farms to lifestyle blocks.

Photo: The Benz scrambles to the top of a greasy brow…almost.

Photo: Daniel Graham getting the job done in slippery conditions

“Fertiliser, lime and urea are generally products we spread. We‘ve got Ravensdown and Balance in Tirau, and we cart it with the trucks and trailers. If it involves loading a lot of tonnage on a farm, we‘ve got the Endraulic loader. We supply the loader for free as a service to our customers.” Brad is running TracMap, an in-cab GPS display unit that works with a cloud-based job management system called TracMap Online. Using TracMap Online, rural contractors or farmers can draw maps of the areas that need to be treated, mark out hazards, and input job details (product, rate, etc.). This information can then be sent wirelessly to drivers. The vagaries of the weather bring the greatest complication to the business. Last spring was exceptionally wet and things got off to a late start. Brad said it was the first time in years that he wasn‘t working at the beginning of October “It was wet and helicopters were doing a lot of the work because the farmers needed the fertiliser on and we couldn‘t get there. Our trucks work on a range of terrain but when it‘s too wet, they have to get the helicopters in. It only takes a couple of days for the ground to dry out, but you have to wait.” When he knows the ground is likely to be a bit slippery Brad takes two trucks to a job for safety reasons or in case one gets stuck.

“I really enjoy just getting out there, you‘re not doing the same thing every day. The job has variety and you get out and about. The only part I hate about the job is the weather.” Brad says he chose the two different trucks [Scania and Mercedes-Benz] so he can compare them on the job. “Also, having a smaller truck helps with the smaller blocks and tight gateways.”

Photo: And let‘s not forget the company‘s other member of the Euro trilogy – the MAN.

Brad had only had his new Scania for a few months when we visited, but it was already earning its keep. We jumped in the cab with him while he spread fertiliser at Ohtawa Farms, Ian Brown‘s property at Tokoroa. The Scania had no trouble negotiating narrow farm gates and climbing steep paddocks. “So far I love it,” says Brad. “It‘s new, and around in the paddocks it‘s got great low-down torque. You can just put your head down and go.”

The Atego was put into service in January 2018 with Daniel Graham at the wheel, and he too loves his machine, so it ‘s going to be an interesting exercise comparing the two in realworld conditions over their life.

Both Brad and Daniel are volunteer firefighters with the Putaruru Volunteer Fire Brigade, with five and four years‘ ser vice respectively, and recently Brad became a senior firefighter.

“I love the adrenalin and helping the community,” says Brad. “I‘ve been with the volunteers all through and when we‘re not busy we spend quite a bit of time with them.” In his limited time off, Brad also enjoys relaxing at the beach, but says the location of his favourite spot is a secret.