A fleet of Cat Trucks, including its biggest prime mover, the CT630HD, is spearheading John Nicoletti’s grain harvest in Western Australia this season.
The 130 tonne road train spec Cats are hauling bulk grain for Mr Nicoletti’s operations, mostly centered in the heart of the WA wheat belt.
Mr Nicoletti said his family-owned operation is farming around 120,000 hectares in the central wheat belt.
“We have 40,000ha of crop and run 12 harvesters,” he said.
“We have to shift the grain in a hurry because if it gets down-graded it costs us money.
“You can’t get contract trucks at harvest time so we run our own fleet,” he said.
Mr Nicoletti aims for full control of the production and marketing process from seed stock to marketing, and transport is a key link.
However, Julie Nicoletti said the approach is not for everybody.
“You've got to be big to make it work.
“To own big trucks you have to have the capability of having (grain) storage so that trucks can work all year round,” she said.
The Nicolettis also run a chain of John Deere dealerships in the wheat belt.
Two Cat Trucks run in the dealership operation, including another CT630HD used on heavy haulage across Australia.
Mr Nicoletti said he has been running Cat Trucks for six years.
“We bought a couple of the first ones and they have been performing really well.
“All I can say to you is that if you are happy with something you stick with it.
“And we are happy with them and they are reasonably priced. They are reliable,” he said.
The Nicolettis were among the first to embrace the payload advantage of the CT630HD.
“Ninety tonne just doesn't do it any more,” Mr Nicoletti said.
“Our furthest haul is 150 kilometres [so] if you're going to haul grain that far, it pays to have three trailers rather than two.
“So we need a 130 tonne rated truck.”
Peter Calligaro from Cat truck dealer Westrac, said the truck offered tonnage they’d never been able to claim before.
“This truck gives the grain guys the opportunity to be able to utilise the C Train.
“With the previous 90 tonne ratings, we couldn't get into that field.
“This truck has been a big asset to us in the West,” Mr Calligaro said.
After starting in Merredin, WA, the Nicolettis went on to become the biggest grain growers in Australia and in spite of recent downsizing they are still major players.
They have invested heavily in grain storage allowing flexibility in working the market and keeping trucks busy throughout the year.
“Grain storage and our trucks work vertically together and we have been delivering grain down to various flour mills around Perth, keeping the whole operation ticketty boo,” Mr Nicoletti said.