Slingo Earthmoving are a classic example of a hard-working Australian family business. They’ve been part of the Mack family for over 50 years.
When we spoke to Dean Slingo, he was driving their Mack Super-Liner home after delivering an excavator to the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. It was barely off the float when his father Graeme got in, keen to get it working straight away.
“Dad’s 72 but we can’t get him to slow down,” says Dean, “everyone keeps saying “when is he going to retire?” but he enjoys working and retirement doesn’t seem to interest him right now!“
Father and son spent many years working alongside each other for another civil construction organisation, that Graeme and his wife Helen have been partners in for over 45 years. Graeme and Dean set up Slingo Earthmoving in 2006, and the two co-directors have been doing long days ever since, with no sign of slowing down.
“This morning my wife Donna pushed a load of paperwork at me that I was supposed to get through in the office today,” says Dean, “but it was a choice between that and driving our new Super-Liner. No contest.”
Graeme and Dean are the proud owners of a brand-new Mack Super-Liner and Mack Trident Tipper, the latest additions to a fleet that includes five Mack Tridents.
“You can’t keep me out of a truck,” says Dean, “I love driving them.”
The Mack Super-Liner, with its sleeper cab, was a deliberate purchase to extend the operating range of Slingo Earthmoving.
“I’ve been getting requests to go further afield,” says Dean, “and those kinds of distances aren’t really practical in a day cab, so the Super-Liner has expanded our area of operations significantly.”
“The Super-Liner is a solid and super-comfortable truck,” he adds, “and with this MP10 685hp engine under the bonnet I can pull anything. I put a 50-tonne load on the low-loader last week and it barely noticed it.”
Dean’s also a huge fan of the combination of the MP10 with the mDRIVE automated manual transmission.
“We’ve got a driver who’s been with us for the last ten years,” says Dean, “when we got the first one with mDRIVE he said “I’d sooner have one with a gear stick” but I convinced him to have a go and, needless to say, I reckon you won’t get him out of it now. It’s a cracking gearbox and we’ve never had a single problem with it. I really like the Heavy Duty setting that changes gears at higher revs, that’s perfect when you’ve got a big load on. I’m really looking forward to the 14-speed version with the creeper gears, we could certainly use that.”
Dean trialled the new gearbox on a recent tour of the Mack production facility at Allentown in the USA. He was very impressed with what he saw there.
“They’re working on engines there that will be in production three to four years from now,” he says, “ and that gives me lot of confidence that Mack are looking ahead. I reckon a big plus of Mack becoming part of the global Volvo Group is that they’ve got a lot of backing and the latest technology, and it shows in the trucks.”
Graeme and Dean have been buying trucks from CMV Laverton since they started their business, and have built up a solid relationship with their dealer Darren Aitken, and the manager Richard Singer.
“Darren knows what we want in a truck,” says Dean, “take this Super-Liner for instance, I didn’t really specify it in that much detail, but when it arrived it’s got chrome everywhere, lights in all sorts of places and the company name in a stainless steel plate on the back of the sleeper framed by a couple of bulldogs. That was all Darren’s idea, and I absolutely love it. Our local sign writer Phil Duus has complemented it with the neat line and scroll work, which takes a steady and experienced hand.”
Richard Singer has also impressed Dean with his positive attitude and determination to deliver on the Mack product.
“He’s a good bloke that you know you can go to with any problems and he’ll sort it out. If he says he’ll call you, he calls you, he never leaves you hanging. I’m a bit old-school and these blokes seem to respect that.”
Above all though, Dean’s a family man, something passed on from his father Graeme, and he’s clearly keen to keep the family business running well into the future.
“Richard lent me a demo model of the Super-Liner and I took it up to Brisbane for a test-drive. My eldest son Dakota sat in the passenger seat the whole way, and when we got home he just wanted to keep on going. He and his brother Declan are in the workshop on a Saturday, and they’re never happier than when they’re moving one of the big Macks around. Of course, I hope they’ll follow in me and my father’s footsteps, and if they do I reckon they’ll be driving a Mack.”