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Groundworks in the Blood

by Nick Drew  |  Thu 04 Mar 2021

Groundworks in the Blood

Matt Olver is one example from this market town who has been in the groundworks industry all his life, and like so many before, followed in his father’s footsteps in the time-honoured way along with his brother Tim Olver who is a long-established excavator owner/operator and industry figure in the South West.

Matt spent many years working for the likes of Champion Groundworks amongst others over the years, but always had an ambition to form his own business. Back in 1982 Matt’s father David established his own firm, David Olver Civil Engineering.

In 2018 a perfect opportunity arose for Matt to go it alone with a local developer Truro based EBC Ltd and so he started the family business in the summer of 2018, amalgamating with his father’s company under one banner.

Matt opted to call his newly formed business Klondyke Developments (SW) Ltd, not after the region in Yukon in North Western Canada, where gold was discovered back in 1896, but it was after something much simpler.

Matt explained how it all came about, “Well I bought an old bungalow about 3-years ago which was named “Klondyke” and I basically knocked it all down and rebuilt it to a modern specification before selling it on just recently, so yeah, that’s basically where I got the name from!”

Matt initially purchased a 14-tonne Doosan excavator and gained his first job as an independent contractor, which was for a friend in the hamlet of Upton Cross, in East Cornwall, where he undertook all the groundworks, up to DPC level, on a development of 6 new build houses, which was a great start.

Thanks to Matt’s connections in the industry, work has continued to snowball in for the company and in response they have had to invest in new machinery to cope with the demand.

Machines from the Doosan stable appear to be the preferred excavator of choice for Matt, and they currently run 2 x DX225LC (21-tonne) 6 x DX140LC (14-tonne) 1 x DX80 (8-tonne) 1 x DX27R and an older New Holland backhoe loader, but new machines are being added as and when needed due to the ever-increasing workload.

Matt said, “We like the Doosan machines, they are fast, powerful and very competitively priced, we get great service from our local dealer Kellands Plant Sales Ltd, and above all else our operators like them and are well catered for in the well-appointed cabs”.

As part of the deal provided by Kellands, Matt has the peace of mind of a 2-year servicing package included, which is a very attractive proposition for a relatively young business and one less thing to have to worry about. 

As a mark of respect and a sign of the times we are all living through, Matt had his first DX225LC-5 emblazoned with the rainbow effect ‘Thank You NHS’ signage.

Keeping it in the family again, Matt’s uncle owns Caradon Tool & Plant Hire Ltd, another Liskeard based business, so any other machinery required by Klondyke, like dumpers, compaction equipment and hand tools, are currently hired in from them. Occasionally they hire in well-known local owner operators as and when needed.

Of course, all businesses need good people to be successful and Klondyke have drafted in some of the best in the South West to work for them. Today they are roughly employing around 40-45 staff which are a mixture of on the books employed and self-employed individuals.

We caught up with Klondyke Developments first 21-tonne class machine on another busy site in Newton Abbot in Devon. This is the machine proudly sporting the Thank You NHS livery and running this machine is Andrew Daw (26) who had the machine from brand new and has been on it now for around 8 months.

Andrew is another Cornwall based operator who has done the rounds on the operator circuit in the South West, having initially started his operating career at the age of 18 with the MJL Group, in fact it was while working for MJL that Andrew was labelled with the nickname “Meerkat” which is proudly displayed on his Doosan window! Asked how it came about Andrew said, “It stems from my early days on that firm, the fitter Darryl Bennalick, started calling me Meerkat and it has stuck to this day, all good Cornish banter, we love it down here!”.

Andrew has also spent some time on another one of the big three players in the South West, Champion Groundworks. He is also joined on Klondyke by his twin brother Phillip Daw who is operating another Doosan 14-tonner on the firm.

Commenting on his mount Andrew said, “It’s a lovely machine, lots of digging power, very stable all around, nice & quick and smooth on the leavers, all in all a great machine!”.

With plenty of work in the pipeline, a top-notch fleet of machines, some of the best men in the industry and Matt Olver’s many years of experience under his belt to guide the way, I predict exciting times ahead for Klondyke Developments (SW).






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