September 2021   

When the lease on their Upper Moutere hop farm came to an end, Marlene Taylor said, “Good, now we can buy a house”. Her husband Bob had other ideas: “No, we can buy a bulldozer”. That first bulldozer was a brand new, bright yellow Fiat Allis AD14 and was a big investment for the Taylors at the time. It was 1971 and Taylors Contracting was born.

Fifty years on, what started out with one bulldozer operated by Bob, preparing land for planting trees for the New Zealand Forest Service (NZFS) and building forestry roads, has expanded to a company with over 170 staff and 140 machines, supplying services to the forestry and civil sectors across the South Island.

Together with their three sons, Charlie, Matt and Arthur, the Taylors turned the one-man forestry roading operation into one of the best-known contracting companies in the Nelson Marlborough region. 

Bob was an innovator, always looking to improve things. He was the first contractor locally to utilise excavators in the forest and the first to modify and fabricate stronger buckets and attachments needed for the harsh conditions. He fitted rippers to the back of the excavator bucket, to turn them around so the digger driver could rip both ways, which had never been done before. 

Bob was also one of the first to use dump trucks in the forest for earthworks and two-staging logs. He took the bin off a dump truck and put logging bolsters on it, then he put a turntable bolster on and a long-poled trailer behind it. That rig was used over in the Marahau for some of the first full-stem logging done around the Nelson region.

Bob also built the first ‘quick hitch’, an attachment on the end of the dipper arm of the excavator. Instead of having to manually pull out the two big pins which held the bucket on, the quick hitch incorporated a hydraulic ram which grabbed the pins. 

Other examples of his innovation were an oversized log splitter, used to split extra-large sized logs, and the purchase of an impact or square roller for deep compaction.

This type of innovation was the foundation for the continuous improvement and investment philosophy the company still practices today, says CEO, Charlie: “Bob had some great sayings to point us in the right direction and keep us going. He was very practical and pragmatic. He would say things like: ‘two does not go into one’, ‘remember the Golden Rule – he who has got the gold makes the rules’, ‘chunk problems down and pick off one problem at a time’, ‘prepare and plan but get started’, ‘the job will evolve, don’t complicate or overthink it’, ‘have confidence in your skills’, ‘take ownership and pride in your work’, ‘if the customer does not want you back, you will sack yourself’, ‘we can do this’… And he was right.”

Bob built a skilled and loyal team around him and supported others in the industry. When 

he died suddenly at the age of 57, Charlie and Matt stepped up...

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