Dylan Kelcher talks with Q&M about his rise and recognition within
the industry through his career with Road Metals.
Your Father is a well-known industry veteran and also profiled in this issue. Did he influence your decision to join the industry?
Initially no, but once I joined the industry he has inspired me to learn as much as I can and strive to be the best quarryman I can be. It has been very helpful being able to go back to him and ask questions whenever I am unsure about something, or the best way to go about a task.
How did you start in the industry?
I was working at the local freezing works in 2012 and we were in the off season and there was temporary work available at Road Metals which I took up. A few weeks into that one of the boys on the mobile crusher broke his tailbone riding his motorbike, which left the company a worker down for a while. It also meant I got a chance to work on that mobile crusher which travelled across the South Island from it base in the company’s Oamaru branch. I was hooked and never looked back. There’s something special about being out in the sun and the rain doing what it takes to get the job done that really builds you as a person.
Please explain your career to date and when and how you achieved your A Grade Quarry Manager cert.
On that mobile crusher in 2012 as the new boy loader operator, I spent my first few years working with Bruce Melville who was the foreman at the time, learning as much as I could off him as we went around the countryside.
After three years he decided to step back off the mobile and I took over as foreman/plant manager with a team, and this has been my job for the past seven years. It has taken me all over the country, from Oamaru to the West Coast of the South Island, right up to the Hawkes Bay recently as part of the work on the Harapaki Windfarm Project.
I gained my B Grade quarry managers certificate in 2014 under the old system, leading to doing my A Grade quarry managers CoC, which I achieved in 2017 and being one of the first in our company to go in front of the Board of Examiners, which I passed on the first go.
You are due to take up a new role as Quarry Manager at Road Metals Corbett Road Quarry in Oamaru. Please explain this career move.
I had been on the mobile for 10 years and my partner was pregnant with my second child, and I got to the point where I felt I had been on the road long enough and wanted to be home more to help out there as family is very important to me.
The opportunity to take over as Quarry Manager at Corbett Road came up which worked perfectly for me and allowed me to take on a new challenge of running wet plants making sand and aggregates alongside crushing dust and various APs.
Having spent 10 years on mobile crushing plants, you must have built up a lot of expertise on this equipment – please elaborate on the pro and cons of their use.
I have been very lucky to operate mobile crushers that are custom built wheeled plants from Road Metals’ experience in the industry, with my father also having a fair bit of input into their design over the years.
Our wheeled plants are kept relatively basic, which means our boys on the plant are able to do 90 percent of any maintenance required no matter where we are, leading to less downtime, fewer issues and more productivity. My preference is towards our wheeled plants over track gear for this reason – fewer sensors, fewer looms, fewer issues.
You won a TerraCat travel award at this year’s Conference in New Plymouth. How do you plan to use it?
Now that I am taking over a fixed quarry site at home my hope is to get in to look at some large fixed quarry operations in Australia, as well as equipment manufacturers to see what I can learn and take back to our sites to improve production and efficiencies.
What other accolades/awards have you achieved so far?
In 2017 I was afforded the chance to take part in the Youth Programme through the IoQ that was supported by the BR Webster Educational Trust, which meant I was able to attend that Quarry Conference that year as well as get exposure to the wider industry, meet and learn from people that I would otherwise not be able to which I was extremely thankful for.
Have you any thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the quarry industry in general, and the politics around this sector?
We have taken big strides in the improvement of health and safety within our industry which I think we can all be proud of. The ever evolving rules and regulations that we work under can at times be frustrating to appropriately apply to what we do, but that’s just a part of the challenge of being in this industry.
I also think at times we can get a rough deal from the public at large, due to the perceptions of our industry, from the crushers to big machines burning diesel and all the rest, without people realising how much effort we put into taking care of, and preserving each and every site, we go to. Be it a land based quarry or the various riverbeds around the country, we take our responsibility seriously in taking care of this beautiful country we are lucky enough to live in.
Do you intend getting involved in the industry’s representative associations – the IoQ and AQA in the future?
Absolutely, I feel these organisations are very important to our industry as a whole: first in getting everyone together to talk about the challenges we all face and come up with ideas for the issues we have in common. Also to make up a united voice to lobby for the industry in general and make sure we are able to continue providing what we do for our country and doing our bit for the continued improvement of infrastructure countrywide.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years’ time?
Planning to still be working for Road Metals, running gear or maybe something else within the company. When you find a company that is great to work for it’s not hard to turn up and put the effort in to make every day a success. I have been incredibly proud to represent Road Metals in the industry for the last 10 years and for many more going forward – it is a fantastic company to work for.
Any other thoughts on your career and the industry you would like to share?
I think the biggest challenge we all face is finding and recruiting young people to this industry and keeping
The worker pool is ever changing and it’s not lending itself favourably to what we do. We need to make sure what we are offering is an attractive option, and one they want to dig in to and really care about.