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Building An Empire

 

Mine Site Construction Services is a privately owned and operated civil, mining and construction company based in Western Australia. The company was built on the foundation laid down by three generations of the Caruso family. 

In 1938 Vittorio Vincenzo Caruso arrived on the shores of Western Australia, aged 16. Vic join his father, Giuseppe Caruso as a sponsored migrant, who’d previously ventured to America and several other locations across Australia, before settling in a small town in the southwest of Western Australia.

Vic’s father Giuseppe had made a name for himself as a first class timber and sleeper cutter in the Southwest and a year after arriving, joined his father to work as a timber mill hand, tree cutter and truck driver for a southwest timber milling family.

During the war years 1939 – 1945, Giuseppe and Vittorio worked in many parts of the state. Noted for their unusually powerful physical strength and willingness to take on the toughest of jobs, they became sought after employees.

By 1947, Vittoria was married with two young sons at home, and in the early stages of running his own business as a bulldozing contractor. Registered as V. Caruso Bulldozing and Clearing, Vittorio’s business was established on the foundation of a single ex-military General Grant armour-plated, crawler tracked tank.

The Tank that started it all

 

In 1947, Vittorio attended an auction of decomissioned General Grant Military tanks were being auctioned off for industrial and agricultural use for £35 each, with the intention of purchasing one in replacement for a bulldozer (which at that time were much more expensive). Vittorio left the auction without a purchase, but would later purchase one from a farmer £10’s cheaper, which came with a much coveted petrol ration he needed to operate it to clear land.

The powerful 30 tonne tank had V9 radial aircraft engineers which were invaluable for operating in the thick bush terrain Vittorio was working in. Until Vittorio’s General Grant Tank, farmers had been clearing their land using a horse and winch, or rink barking the trees. With enthusiasm, Italian and other southwest farmers sought out the services of their paesano, Vittorio, knowing his ‘war machine’ had the ability to clear the bush quickly and efficiently, and Vittorio’s feats on the General Grant tank became woven into the folklore of the southwest.

V & V Caruso and Co. Pty Ltd

 

The growing Caruso family (at this stage six sons and one daughter) moved to Bunbury with the intention to further expand their growing bulldozing business. Vittorio was well known in the port town due to his involvement in the Mineral Sand Cables project at Koombana Bay. 

Vittorio’s wife, Venera Caruso, contined to develop her administrative skills to assist her husband and his expanding bulldozing business. In Bunbury, while raising 9 children, Venera assisted Vittorio in the day-to-day running of the business, handling telephone enquiries, paperwork and accounts administration.

By the mid 1950 Vittorio’s business had successfully executed various notable contracts in the Southwest, such as the construction of the  a cement weir across the South Preston Creek, along Mandalay Road at Glen Mervyn. The Luisini land clearing contract, had involved the clearing of 100 – 200 acres of Iand. 

As the years progressed Vittorio continued to add to his earthmoving fleet and had based his administrative offices in the building opposite the famous Rose Hotel on Wellington Street in Bunbury. As his company grew, so did his team and during this time Vittorio introduced his eldest son Joe into the business.

The Infamous Bunbury Flood

In the winter of 1964, residents of the southwest town of Bunbury were inundated by a flood caused by heavy rain falls which lead to an engulfed Preston River. Hundreds of homes were evacuated as many residents were forced to flee their homes in darkness, wading waist deep water to safety, many of them carrying small children. The emergency lasted four days, with local opinion blaming the man made “plug" for the damage caused to the township. Vittorio Caruso volunteered his services by offering to release the floodwaters into Koombana Bay with his Caterpillar D7 bulldozer. The mayor took Vic up on his offer and together with council officials, SEC workers and the manager of the Bunbury Power Station, they set to work to open the section of land between the two water points by bulldozing a trench to allow the ever-rising river waters to escape to the ocean. Hundreds of people gathered to watch history in the making as Vittorio Caruso made the brave decision to drive his machine through the flooded area and cut an opening into the open sea. His actions resulted in the banks being breeched and a 4 metre channel made though the road embankment.

V & V. Caruso & Co. worked many projects that have been considered the foundation of the emerging state of Western Australia. From involvement in major Earthworks for the Bunbury Port Authority, to clearing earthworks for Muja Power Station in Collie, Collie River Earthworks for PWD, V C Mitchell Park Oval for Donnybrook Shire, earthworks and pond construction for Greenbushes Tin, Withers Estate Housing Site for the State Housing Commission to the Cable Sands Mining Project at Koombana Bay – Vittorio’s company was involved with these projects and many more during the time where WA’s southwest were beginning to flourish.

Strength. Reliability. Versatility.

In 1968 the Caruso family suffered a great tragedy with the sudden loss of Vittorio. Several of the Caruso brothers stepped up and took over running the family business, cementing a culture of hard work, resilience and perseverance that remains today. 

The organisation has developed and growth over the past forty years, influenced by the managerial style and visions of various Caruso brothers, but the consistency has been Mark and Joseph Caruso, and in the past 20 years, Mark’s son Matthew, and more recently Alex Caruso. In partnership with the core leadership team, Mine Site Construction Services has continued to grow and flourish and remains on of the most reliable, productive and widely respected civil construction and mining organisations in Western Australia.