There aren’t many construction companies around that can say they have been operating since 1974. A special vintage and my birthyear making the company nearly 48 years old. But the family run construction business Califam Constructions can proudly vouch for exactly that, and founder of Califam Constructions, Michael Caligiuri can still be found regularly making site visits to catch up with his five sons, Anthony, Joseph, John-Paul, Andrew and Luke, whose roles range from management, finance, operations, and project management.

It was John-Paul and Andrew who were onsite to meet with EEM to discuss all things Califam and Kobelco, as well as Ken from Melbourne Tractors, who has been working closely with the Califam team for some 12 years now. Chatting with John-Paul and Andrew it became clear very quickly how important the significance of the legacy that has been built by their father Michael is. Both the boys were very passionate and proud of the family business, and you can’t help but get a little caught up in it as they shared their experiences growing up in and around excavators as kids with their dad. The fact that all five boys ended up following in their dads’ footsteps and joining him in the success of the family business is a testimate to the father and son working relationship. 

John-Paul shared, “we deliver hydraulic infrastructure projects throughout Greater Melbourne.  Our main focus is the construction of Sewer Reticulation, Branch and Trunk Sewers.  My role in the business is Operations Manager and Project Manager and I’ve been working in the family business for 18 years. My older brother Joseph was first onboard closely followed by Anthony 22 years ago.”

John-Paul continued, “Califam was one of the first purchasers of Kobelco when they first arrived in Australia and whilst we have purchased other machines, the majority of our machinery is Kobelco. We have recently purchased five new Kobelco excavators, four SK380XDLC-10s and one SK500XDLC-10 from Melbourne Tractors. We can’t rate their sales and service high enough. Our fleet of 30 – 50 tonne excavators are all Kobelco.

The new XD version has an improved and stronger undercarriage and boom which is of huge benefit to our application (deep rock trench excavation in paddocks and new residential estates)”.

Andrew shared, “the Kobelco has been a terrific machine and our preferred excavator for the 30-50 tonne class.  We find they have tremendous power and are fuel efficient. But it’s also the operator experience that we find hugely valuable. Our team literally fall over each other to get into our new Kobelco machines. The durability, digging power, comfort, visibility and features are second to none”.

With a 12-year proven track record with Melbourne Tractors and Ken Bennett, the relationship between Califam has since gone from strength to strength over the years with Melbourne Tractors continuing to provide quality machinery and reasonable prices. 

Chatting with Ken he shared, “I’ve been Involved with Melbourne Tractors for 26 years. Originally, I joined the team as a salesman, however after 10 years I bought out the two existing owner/partners to become the sole owner.

“From one branch in Campbellfield, we expanded to dealerships in Dandenong, Ballarat, Terang, and Brisbane. I have had a good work and social relationship with all five Caligiuri brothers, taking them at various times to the Kobelco factory in Hiroshima, Japan where they have been able to view first-hand from start to finish the manufacturing of the excavators they are using”.

Ken continued, “in this current order of five units they purchased – one SK500XDLC (52 tonne) and four SK380XDLCs (38 tonne) excavators. The XD Series is the next level in strength and durability, utilising a strong and reinforced undercarriage which equates to longer life and less maintenance. Improved fuel efficiency is just one of the many things that has reduced running costs.

A cabin designed for operator’s comfort and visibility ensures a happy workforce. The increased performance and productivity because of the breakout and digging force provided of the new XD range. The ability of the XD range and its predecessors to run bigger breakers than other brands of excavators in this class, and the increase in productivity appeal to operators like Califam Constructions.

Fortunately, even though Melbourne holds the World record for COVID lockdowns, our industry, except for two weeks has been able to continue in some form during this period and Melbourne Tractors has been able to work for the entire shut out period without having to shut our doors to our valued customers”.

After watching the new 52 tonne SK500XD series machines rip into serious applications, it’s clear they are built for extreme power and durability. After looking into the Kobelco specifications and descriptions the excavators have been engineered to operate in the harshest conditions around the world, making them ideally suited for a variety of industries across Australia, such as quarry and aggregates, subdivision and underground utilities, and heavy infrastructure and road construction.

Kobelco have pulled out all the stops and purpose built the SK380XD and SK500XD for the most extreme work environments, with a robust machine body and substantial additional reinforcements to all key areas of stress and wear – across the boom, arm, underbody and undercarriage. A heavy-duty triple track guide frame provides confidence and reliability in harsh and rocky underfoot conditions, while reinforced heavy-duty 600mm triple grouser shoes make easy work of rough terrain.

The XD Series achieve the ultimate in power and efficiency with Kobelco’s advanced powertrain and hydraulic system, engineered for uncompromising performance and productivity—and with the simplicity of no DPF to service and no requirement for AdBlue. Fast digging cycle times, impressive bucket breakout and arm tear out force are combined with powerful slew torques to take productivity to the next level.

In addition to this step up in performance, the XD Series is also built for exceptional fuel efficiency, with the SK380XD delivering an average fuel consumption under 20L/hour  and the SK500XD 30L/hour, with a mix of heavy and standard mode operation in typical Australian heavy digging conditions.

If you are a person who usually takes these manufactures specs and marketing content with a grain of salt, the glowing endorsement of these new Kobelco XD machines from John-Paul and Andrew Caligiuri could not have been any better.

I think there are going to be a lot of  companies out there, who for their own  reasons haven’t yet entertained the Kobelco brand when it came to the larger end  of the market for excavators, that will now be forced to sit up and take a good look at the quality, durability, power and efficiencies of this new XD range. That combined with an excellent price point could just be the tipping point that sees a lot more excavation companies end up in these new blue machines.


  • SK380XD and SK500XD are purpose-built for the most extreme work environments
  • Reinforcements to all key areas of stress and wear across the boom, arm, underbody, and undercarriage
  • A heavy-duty triple track guide
  • Ultimate in power and efficiency with Kobelco’s advanced powertrain and hydraulic system


  • Engine Power: 257 kW
  • Bucket Breakout Force: 293 kN
  • Slew Torque:  183 kN
  • Tractive Force: 415 kN


  • Engine Power: 209 kW
  • Bucket Breakout Force: 244 kN
  • Arm Tearout Force: 180 kN
  • Tractive Force: 331 kN

Written by: Earthmoving Equipment Magazine

Image Califam Constructions 2 - Kobelco Excavators
Image Califam Constructions 3 - Kobelco Excavators
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Image Califam Constructions 6 - Kobelco Excavators

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