Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Mon 18 May 2020

Young gun builds on success in Fiji. (Part One)

We were recently contacted by a young guy on Instagram Zuhayr Khan who was keen to tell us about his journey to become the youngest earthmoving and excavation business owner in Fiji. In this two-part series Zuhayr tells the story in his own words and photos, edited by myself.

Young gun builds on success in Fiji. (Part One)

When I think about my journey to become the youngest earthmoving and excavation business owner here at the age of 19, I feel it was probably started way before I was born.

This opportunity would never had opened up for me if my late grandad Suleman Khan hadn’t left the interiors of Fiji and his farming and boxing life to start a new career 55 years ago.

My granddad bought a 6-wheeler Toyota truck and started to haul logs for a saw mill in early 1960’s, later on he moved into the field of earthmoving and in early 1970’s he purchased a used Caterpillar D4D bulldozer and started to do some small scale road works and logging. In the late 70’s with the inclusion of my dad and his brothers the business started to grow and is now a reputable company in Fiji.

Pictured above: Zuhayr's grandad and his mates loading up logs in 1965, note the old Cat dozer in the background.

In the year 2008 my father decided to do the same as my grandad and ventured out on his own in the field of mining. I have always been around heavy machinery ever since I was a kid. Machinery and dinosaurs were the only two things which ever fascinated me. I started off in equipment operating at a very young age and when I was 12, I became quite proficient in operating an excavator at my dad’s manganese mine. Over the years I stayed on the mine and other commercial jobs with my dad and when I reached the legal age to own and run a business in Fiji, I decided that I wanted to do the same as both men did, but only thing is I am trying to do it way earlier than them, in what is a really competitive market. When I told my parents, they were really encouraging and never held me back. I met up with an accountant and set up my business under the name of Raptor Excavation and Earthmoving in the year 2018.

Photo: Zuhayr aged 15 at the controls of a Kato 450SEV loading trucks at his dads manganese mine.

I chose the name Raptor because, as I mentioned earlier, heavy machinery and dinosaurs were the only two things that have ever fascinated me! Now the struggle began to operate a company and at the same time study as in the same year I started my Bachelor of commerce. Dedicating time to both the business and studies was tough so I decided to go for the long haul and go with no sleep campaign.

After meeting all the business and tax requirements I started to look for a job without owning any equipment, looking back at it I find it funny how I set up a business and didn’t have any jobs lined up.

I managed to get myself recognized with the Fijian Ministry of Agriculture and landed my first job to make a new 3km farm road. I went to my dad and asked if I could hire a D6D dozer, we made a deal and I hired his dozer, got an operator and began that job.

Photo: Zuhayr's first job for the Ministry of Agriculture on the Cat D6D.

After completing that job, I won a few more tenders with the Ministry of Agriculture and decided to purchase the dozer from my dad. We agreed on a payment term even though he was transferring it to me without cost, but I didn’t want things to be served easy and we decided to that I will make payments for the dozer.

Zuhayr concludes his story so far in part two of this blog on Friday.

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