December 2021

One Last

As this year draws to a close, we will bid a fond farewell to one of Brisbane’s longstanding customers. Noel and Margaret Geritz have been a part of the Hitachi family for 45 years, since our former company names of Domino Industries, Blackwood Hodge and Marubeni Construction and Mining Equipment. Owners of Geritz Plant Hire, the dynamic husband and wife team reflect on their amazing career through the hard beginnings, good times and friendships made along the way as they hang up the work boots for retirement.

Starting his working life as a pipe layer before the emergence of excavators in Australia, Noel used to do the hard yards following the backhoe trenching to lay down pipes. Proud of his strong beginnings, Noel discovered these founding years to be a great place to learn about civil construction, the value of quality work done right the first time, and the emerging technology in the industry.

Soon after pipe laying, Noel stepped into sub-contractor work with his first Case excavator. He quickly found that being an owner / operator was proving to be a tough gig. Working his machine Monday to Friday resulted in spending the entire weekend doing repairs, so that he was ready to work the following week. Noel remembers, “Back then, machines only had 6 months warranty. Once you were outside the warranty period, you were on your own.” Despite the tough road, Noel and Margaret were determined to give it their all, but hard times relented with repairs outweighing income. Reaching the end of what they could financially endure, they were contacted by a Domino sales rep, with an offer to change up their used machine for their very first Hitachi excavator. It was a risk, with a decision to make at their hardest moment. Together, they decided to leave no stone unturned and take the Hitachi 20 tonne excavator. The despair of that time, albeit now a distant memory, is still clearly etched in their memory along with the ensuing relief. “That Hitachi excavator never once broke down, never once caused an hour of downtime… and every Hitachi I’ve purchased after that first one has been just as reliable as, and better than the last”. So grateful for their decision at that turning point, Noel said “We would not be where we are today without Hitachi. They never let us down – the machines or their people.”

“It’s more than business – we are part of a family”

“I feel like I was never a customer, my work and my opinion was always valued,” explains Noel. “I was lucky enough to take part in a number of testing projects”. Noel took great pleasure in working with our local technical teams along with Japanese factory engineers to help refine machine functionality. With his long experience as an operator, he has also enjoyed being in the driver’s seat demonstrating the machines at field days, and the odd feature in product brochures and magazines. A quote Noel quickly became renown for when talking to other operators, ‘if you are driving a machine all day, you want it to be one of these!’

Chris Batson of Brisbane Sales said “Noel is one of the country’s biggest Hitachi advocates, encouraging our brand to all that will listen. He often quotes the fact that he has never lost an hour of downtime on any of his Hitachi’s!”

It’s these experiences that have made both Noel and Margaret feel more valued and a true part of the Hitachi family. Noels said, “What I like the most is that Hitachi doesn’t just build a machine to sell – they take into consideration the feedback to make refinements that are going to help the operator be an even better operator, to do an even better job. The people building the machines are listening and building a machine the operator wants.”

Noel has appreciated working on some great projects that have made a significant difference beyond earthmoving. “I really enjoy the technical side of things, designing things that work. One of my favourite projects was working with MRCCC to stop sediment entering the Great Barrier Reef. Working on the Hervey Bay Boat Harbour, we had to create a rock wall, set up erosion control and build gullies – basically make low water move up to high water. It was technically challenging and very rewarding. He has also has enjoyed working on new estate developments and helping design new solutions needed.

The most important part of Noel’s journey without a doubt has been sharing it with his wife, Margaret. “We are a team, 100% and she is my biggest support.” The couple have been married for 47 years, and the best that partners could be. “We do whatever needs doing and get through it together”. Noel has fond thoughts of their younger years, “I bought her a cow and 3 acres when she was 25 years old” as he proudly reflects on the expanse of their property to date and idyllic lifestyle they have earnt. Without hesitation, Noel says “We owe this all to Hitachi for making it possible”. It is clear there is so much love, trust and friendship between the couple.

When asked what advice he would give to new owner / operators starting out, Noel said “I would tell them to buy a new machine, because it will take you a lot of jobs to afford an old machine. Save yourself the trouble and buy the latest technology and buy new. It is your best guarantee to stay in business”.

Now with his retirement nearing, Noel said he looks forward to enjoying all that he and Margaret have worked for. “We have cattle and property with lots of toys around, and a beautiful home on the beach so there’s lots to do and lots of ways to enjoy our time.” Recently taking delivery of his 34th Hitachi machine, Noel adds, “I turn 70 in January and I’d like to keep my newest Hitachi machine for my retirement… just in case I find something that needs digging!” Noel says he will retire this Christmas, however does look forward to still doing the odd job at a more leisurely pace.

Giving a shout out to Chris Batson, Steffan Walsh, Kim Livingstone, Peter Gillespie, Mark Noreiks and Gilberto Pauleta, Noel affirms to be the best team in Brisbane. “They have always been there to listen and support Margaret and I through our working life and get things done.”

We are grateful for our business partnership and friendship over the years with The Geritz. The outcomes we’ve shared together in machine development, promotion and working environment will continue on as legacy of the relationship forged. From all of us at HCA, we wish Noel and Margaret a healthy and happy retirement, to enjoy the fruits of their labour long into the future. We appreciate your genuine ambassadorship and hope that you enjoy your 34th Hitachi ‘retirement’ excavator with many more leisurely digging hours ahead.

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