Earthmoving Specialists

South Coast Sand & Civil

The company was started by Don and Lois Fladrich in 1970. Family operations don’t typically start with a lot of capital, so an eight tonne truck was the first driver of the business. The company grew gradually and, in 1982, son Stephen Fladrich joined the operation. At that time, there were five employees using half a dozen pieces of equipment. In 1990, when Stephen bought the company from his parents, there were between ten and fifteen employees. He has been running it ever since.

As in most earth moving contractors, the backbone of the operation is generally the excavators. But South Coast Sand & Civil is also dependent on various other machines to do the job: bulldozers, dump trucks, graders, rollers, skid steer loaders, trucks and wheeled loaders. It’s all been quite the leap from that first truck.

Continuing with the family tradition, Stephen’s twenty-eight year old son now works with the company, having joined this past year. He is a qualified civil engineer who started out working for a consulting group in South Australia and the Northern Territory. “The experience he gained elsewhere is now helping in our business; that’s exactly the way it should be,” says Stephen. “Having family in the business generates more feel to the company. My General Manager also has his son working with us as the other project engineer and estimator. The familiarity between people helps a lot. If you have family working within, it means that their heart is into it.”

South Coast Sand & Civil, according to Stephen, would be nowhere without its employees. “Without good employees it doesn’t matter how good the machine is; you can have the best made machinery in the world, but if you haven’t the people to drive them, it is useless. We look for loyalty, dedication and they have to be interested in their job and in developing their skill sets; we want their brains as well as their hands. If they only do as they are told then you are only getting twenty-five per cent; the other seventy-five per cent comes out of their head.”

Prior to the global financial crisis (GFC), the company carried seventy employees but now employs fifty. Stephen explains, however, that prior to the GFC, the company had actually grown a bit too far and cutting back was needed anyway. “So we started with a natural attrition to get it down. Now, we are at fifty again.”

The geographic location of South Coast Sand & Civil has also proven a bit of a challenge. “We have our back to the sea, and when we draw a circle around our headquarters we only have half a circle to deal with. We have also done a little bit of work on Kangaroo Island, and that’s a different kettle of fish altogether. The expense of getting over there usually kills smaller projects.”

Things have been picking up, however, as the economy rights itself and, despite currently having tight margins, there is a lot of work to be had. The main focus for the company is currently land division and the bulk of its work is with developers and local government. Originally, South Coast’s primary business was clearing house sites for builders and preparing them to receive foundations, along with supplying sand needed for construction. Work was also done for farmers who wanted dams cleaned out or built and tracks constructed.

South Coast has also done quite a bit of commercial development around its home base of Victor Harbor in the past for a variety of developers, with projects including car parks, building sites and shopping centres. “We recently capped a landfill for the city of Victor Harbor which was quite a big job. We still do a bit of that. If it’s something that needs a machine, we will do it.” It is a business that is strongly driven by the local economy, although the company has also operated further afield with projects in the southern part of Adelaide. Typically, employees work about an hour’s drive from the home base.

In subdivision development, South Coast Sand & Civil has several customers who provide a lot of repeat business, appreciative of the company’s ability to follow through with quality work. A client will approach the company with a piece of property, wanting to put house sites up, and South Coast Sand & Civil will build the infrastructure with all the necessary services: roads, sewers, water systems, trenching for the electrical, phone lines and the construction of roads.

The company acts as a head contractor and will then bring in specialised people to complete the electrical and asphalt work. In the early days, the local governments employed local contractors much like machinery hire but, as times changed, it has become more of a project based arrangement and companies like South Coast must conduct their own project management and offer their services as a complete package.

South Coast has also worked on a series of interesting wetland projects such as the Beyond Today residential development. The vision is based around ponds and wetlands that capture water, making the development more like living in a green natural space than is typical of the average subdivision. “When you look at it from the air, it’s quite a feat,” shares Stephen. “It looks nice at the right time of the year as it is very green.”

In Australia’s dry climate, it’s important to capture and reuse waste water, as it is quite a precious resource, and some of the company’s notable projects have dealt with just that. “If you can get more than one use out of it, then it takes the pressure off the potable water that people use to drink,” Stephen explains. “Otherwise a lot of that water, if it wasn’t caught and reused, would be coming straight out of the drinking water system which, on a really bad drought year, struggles to keep up with demand as it is.”

The company has completed several stormwater and grey water recycling projects for local councils. These usually involve building a large retaining pond, then lining it so that the councils can pump stormwater in and save it for such uses as watering grass and plants. The pond being built at the moment has a capacity of one hundred and fifty million litres. Alexandrina Council’s storm water will likely fill the pond a couple of times in a season, saving huge amounts of water. The company has also worked on pipelines associated with those works.

Most of South Coast Sand & Civil’s work comes from repeat business, and its reputation for quality means that it obtains much of its new business as a result of referrals. No matter how big or small, with the right equipment and attitude, South Coast Sand & Civil gets the job done right.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

May 29, 2020, 5:49 PM AEST