Profile: EasyMoves LTD
By: Lyndsay Whittle | Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle
Deals on Wheels catches up with Troy Etting from EasyMoves Ltd to find out more about the business
After a childhood spent in Europe and making his way back to New Zealand via Australia as a teenager, Troy Etting found himself looking for a job way back in 1985 and was soon offered one through a family member who worked in the office of a house removal company.
Troy says that like most people who make a living from shifting houses, he started out labouring for a well-known house removal company. He moved on to be a foreman for a couple of other firms over the years until one day, a co-worker suggested that if they paired-up as a team, they should be able to do pretty well for themselves as their own bosses.
The sign says it all
The idea was appealing, and after giving due consideration to all the pros and cons of having a share in his own enterprise, Troy agreed. They were all set up with a small amount of gear and were ready to hit the ‘go’ button when the guy whose suggestion it was to start out on their own, pulled out of the deal at the eleventh hour.
While Troy admits that it was all a bit of a blow at the time, as he was then left with the sole responsibility of setting up the new enterprise, looking back, he can see that it was probably the best thing that could have happened.
He didn’t have a lot of equipment at first: just an old Mazda Titan truck, a few bottle jacks, and associated equipment. However, it wasn’t too long before some more sophisticated equipment in the form of two Ford 5000 winch tractors and a 1994 Mitsubishi winch truck joined the fleet.
Troy and his Mitsi winch truck
It’s interesting to note that both the old Fords and the Mitsi are still part of the Easy Moves enterprise, but because of ongoing technological advancements in house-moving gear, these machines don’t get trotted out as much as they once did. However, Troy says they’re handy pieces of kit to have on-hand when needed for that odd occasion when the more-modern gear is too big to fit on the site.
The two biggest rigs and their drivers: Aaron with EZYDOG (Mack Superliner) and Whitz with BIGEZI (Western Star)
In EasyMoves’ early days, Troy says he and his wife Vanessa didn’t have their own truck and trailer units so hired the rigs from other companies to carry out the transportation side of their business.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the second-hand Mazda Titan is long gone, having been replaced with bright, shiny new Hino 300 and 500 Series crew-cab gear trucks, which are kitted-out with every conceivable apparatus, including on-board barbeques, all designed to make life easier for their 20 or so staff members. The company has also recently added a lighter but equally smart-looking Iveco Daily gear truck to the fleet.
The Hino 500 gear truck, complete with on-board BBQ
On a guided tour of the pristinely-presented 13,500 square metre EasyMoves yard at Glen Eden in West Auckland, Troy and son Connor—who is the company’s administrations and operations officer—gave a conducted walk-through of a show house, which serves to provide prospective buyers with some ideas as to how they might personalise a removal house to suit their requirements.
Troy and Connor love their classic cars
Of particular interest to anyone who lives and breathes trucks and machinery was the part of the site walkthrough that included looking at the some of the big rigs that make short work of moving buildings of up to 26 metres long and 11 metres wide.
The Mitsubishi winch truck is dwarfed by its current-day counterpart
Troy recalls the days when a TM Bedford powered by a V6 Detroit was considered to be a powerful unit, producing around 240hp, whereas the current fleet of Western Star and Mack trucks have outputs of 475–685hp and do the job a lot more quietly as well.
While extra horsepower does serve to make lighter work of building removal, Troy says advancements in trailer technology and hydraulic push-pull mechanisms fitted to prime movers and hydraulic height-adjusting trailers with caster steer and command steer systems are what really make life easier for house movers.
The command steer function is a co-ordinated system where the front axles of the trailers are steered proportionately to the articulation angles between the tractor and the corresponding trailing units.
Whereas, the previously-mentioned push-pull is a device that’s horizontally mounted on the prime-mover’s chassis and has a 1.8-metre travel. The push-pull comes into its own when smaller adjustments need to be made when positioning buildings on sites or when obstacles such as power poles and narrow driveways need to be negotiated with millimetre precision.
A Mack Superliner being prepped for house-moving
In one of the workshops at the time of the DOW visit was a Mack Superliner, which was being modified to have a push-pull unit manufactured and fitted, along with other upgrades to bring it up to EasyMoves specifications, which, of course, includes a shiny new livery.
As one might imagine, the hardware used to construct one of these units involves a reasonable amount of heavy engineering. To that end, the company employs a full-time fabricator/welder/mechanic who is kept busy constructing new equipment and repairing existing gear, which due to the nature of the house-moving game gets worked pretty hard, Troy says.
EasyMoves has some pretty impressive house-moving equipment
Figuring out logistics
An ever-increasing demand for pre-built houses, site offices, and the like sees the EasyMoves team travelling greater distances than in previous years, often as far afield as Palmerston North, Taupo and the like.
Troy says there are a lot of logistical issues to consider when doing a transportation from Auckland to Palmerston North, given that over width loads of five-plus metres need to be carried out at night-time when traffic is less heavy.
Therefore, a typical stopover point during daylight hours would be Turangi, where the crew of pilot vehicles and transporters all need to be put up in a motel until it’s permissible to carry on with the rest of the journey.
It gets even more interesting he says when you’re travelling with a convoy of houses or when loads over 11-metre wide are being shifted, requiring more stringent permits, including engineer’s reports that are also required at this level. However, he reckons that’s all part of the fun of the house-moving game.
In speaking of some of the changes the industry has undergone in his 35 years in the game, Troy says that five years ago, the ratio of removal house-to-new build transportations for EasyMoves would have been approximately 70 to 30% however, the ratio is slowly changing to a point where it’s currently sitting around 60 to 40%.
Also, with greater volumes of freight being moved at night, there’s now more chance of encountering other big rigs on the road in the wee small hours and there needs to be a much stronger emphasis placed on piloting wide loads.
Troy says that where once the good-old CB radio was a viable means of letting other trucks know you’re on the road, which is rapidly being superseded by the FM bands. Troy adds that by using dedicated channels, his crew can communicate with each other more effectively, leaving Channel 11 free for communicating with other road users.
It’s a big yard but it soon fills up when the fleet comes home
Truck and car show
The team at EasyMoves take great interest in trucks and machinery as well as cars and they try to get around to truck shows and even host their own private truck and car show at the end of each year.
It’s growing each year and is a great opportunity for friends to come in and show off their pride and joy. We host it on Crate Day, which is the first Saturday of December and is a celebration of the start of a Kiwi summer but is also a good release for what is normally the crazy season when the weather generally fine.
The team at Easy Moves say they’re always happy to show potential customers around their extensive stock of removal houses, including the show house mentioned earlier.
It’s a pretty big yard, and Troy, Vanessa, Connor, or sales manager Steve Withers are only too happy to chauffeur you around the site in the EasyMoves golf cart.