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Off The Beaten Track

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Encee Electrical powers all-Isuzu fleet.

In the western-most region of this wide country the beaches are pristine, the roads are long and the people are congenial. Mining and construction are the jewels in the crown of industry and many residents are tuned in to this phase of life; running businesses that support the state’s booming skilledlabour industries. Born and bred along the western beaches, Lincoln Walker, of Encee Electrical, comes off as a typically laid-back local. But dive a little deeper and his passion for the family’s electrical contracting company is crystal clear.

“I’ve been doing electrical work since I was about 10 years old. I’d work with my dad every holidays. I never had a part-time job. My job was working alongside Dad,” said Lincoln.

ESSENTIAL
“I started my official apprenticeship in 1996 and joined him as a tradesman fouryears later. I’ve kept the business going since he passed in 2006.”

Since then it’s been full steam ahead, and Lincoln’s appreciation for the company’s Isuzu NPS 4×4 truck fleet, loyally supporting two generations of Walkers and their staff, is equally evident.

“We’re mostly involved with remote mining clients and a lot of WA’s big mobs. But we also do government road projects and we’ve done work on a couple of Australia’s biggest wind farms a few hundred kilometres north of Perth. “We specialise in temporary power solutions, supplying switchboards and connecting up work sites, accommodation and offices to mains power or generators,” Lincoln detailed. “We just couldn’t get by without 4×4 trucks working hard for us. We have to travel along gravel roads and deal with a lot of soft sand on sites. We’re using the four-wheel-drive at least three or four times a week.”

RIGHT TIME
Given Perth is considered one of the world’s windiest cities with some of Australia’s best wind resources, it looks like Encee Electrical has a good thing going helping to connect WA to cleaner, greener energy.

“There’s so much infrastructure and construction out here, I’d say ever since COVID hit, we’ve been getting busier, and busier, and busier. It’s got crazy busy,” said Lincoln.

“We’d do about 35,000 kilometres a year in each truck now, accounting for a lot of driving around town and down country highways… I’m glad our new manual-transmission Isuzu has cruise control, I’d say it’s one of its best features, but that’s not really being fair,” Lincoln added with a grin.

“I was looking at another 12 months at least before upgrading my fleet, but with all this going on, and the instant asset write-off being offered… I knew we couldn’t go wrong upgrading this year instead.”

READY FOR ANYTHING
At six feet, 10 inches tall, Lincoln is actually joking about the NPS 4×4’s best features. Posed against the 2.49m cab of the 2020 NPS 75-155, he makes the Isuzu off-roaders look comparatively miniscule, not helped any by the supercharged size of outback diggers in the background.

It’s just a trick of the eye though – space and the payload capacity of the fleets’ custom 4.5m steel-tray bodies (fitted by TL Engineering) mean everything to Encee Electrical and its ability to get work done efficiently.

“Each truck has big toolboxes, a Kevrek 1500 crane on the back weighing around 200 kilos, and they can be pulling a 2.6-tonne trailer and excavator combo, not to mention the weight of our cable drums and switchboards.

“I’ve put about $10,000 worth of extras in there: genuine bullbar and spotlights, two-way radios, an aerial whip flag and REDARC electric brake controller and work lights.

“I need them capable of standing up to anything, which they’ve managed very well so far,” said Lincoln.

Around taking care of the company books and work schedule, Lincoln spends most days driving and working on site, and had apprehensions about fitting comfortably in the cab of a medium-duty truck. Since purchasing Encee’s first Isuzu (a 2004 NPS 300 4×4) from Nestor Jongko at Major Motors, Forrestfield, through to their current 2016 and 2020 model NPS 75-155s, it’s been smooth sailing over the sand dunes.

“Isuzu is definitely more comfortable than other brands,” Lincoln explained, noting the NPS’ cab space and visibility from the air-suspended driver’s seat.

“The 4x4s are only a little wider than a car, but surprisingly big inside.

“We also have space constraints on site, so the next truck size up is just too large. The NPS is perfect for what we need.”

VERSATILE
Topping the list of Encee’s must-haves is Isuzu’s well-regarded safety suite – with driver and passenger airbags, Isuzu’s Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Hill Start Aid (HSA), all standard issue on the latest NPS 75-155 models.

“A lot of work sites consider ABS and dual airbags mandatory to have in the truck, so it’s good they come standard in the Isuzu,” said Lincoln.

“Most of the time I have the Hill Start Aid switched on because of our heavy towing loads. It’s just another thing that makes safe driving a little bit easier for the staff and me.

“Apart from this, and the space and payload, the next best thing about the truck is that it’s super quiet. The new cab design is really quiet, both inside and outside.

“But I won’t say looks have nothing to do with it,” he added thoughtfully. “I like the appearance we present having an all-Isuzu fleet, including our D-Max ute. Our customers know if you look after your truck, you’re going to put a bit more effort into looking after your work, too.

“And my kids think they’re kingpins when they rock up to school in the truck! All their friends make comments about it, so they love it,” Lincoln finished.

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