PDA

View Full Version : How many of you are single owner/operators?


YellowDogSVC
11-06-2007, 08:50 PM
I'm wondering how many of you make a good living as a single owner/operator?
About 10 years ago I decided to try the land clearing business out as a sole operator. I have used other companies for trimming and have even used a few independent contractors for removals and trimming but I do almost everything by myself and have invested in good equipment and developed systems that allow me to make a living without the hassles of employees. On occasion I wish that I had some labor and have looked hard for someone that I can use but my schedule is odd given that a lot of what I do is me sitting in a machine. I have tried out a few operators but most don't know anything or are not willing to learn to do things gently and cleanly.
I get beat up and I am sore quite a bit but if I want to take off, I can. I don't other than part days or rain outs or repair days but I am flexible like this. As I get older, however, I am thinking more about having people do the work while I sell or supervise but again, I haven't found the right people.

What about the rest of you? If you are a single operator, tell us about your system. I'll post more about mine in a reply.

bobcat_ron
11-06-2007, 09:00 PM
I'm not allowed to hire anyone else due to WCB regulations (B*STARDS!!) but usually if a customer wants me to do the job, he wants me. So I hope cloning comes about in the next 5 years or so, 'cuz I'm not looking forward to getting screwed over.

ksss
11-06-2007, 09:11 PM
I try to run with two employees, however eitherway I am always on a machine of some sort. Finding the right employee is extremely difficult. The unemployment rate here is just over 1%. I have too much iron to run soley by myself although other than occasional help that is what I am doing right now. This Winter I plan to steal a quality number 1 guy. I found that with two operators both with CDL's I turn the most money. Even with the additional costs, when I can keep everything moving, I can stay on schedule easier and get more jobs done. Working soley by myself just wears me out. The key again is quality help.

Bob Horrell
11-06-2007, 10:04 PM
I am a sole owner operator. I have a skidsteer, tractor, backhoe, and triaxle dump truck. I do many varied jobs and seem to always keep busy - even now when things in my area are slowing down. I think the key to keeping busy is to be versatile and do good work.
A long time ago, I learned something I use in my business. WITB and WOTB. WITB is what we do every day - Working In The Business. WOTB is what we need to do to keep the business going - Working On The Business. Every year I spend significant time with WOTB thinking about what I can do to be better and gain more customers. A lot of the dirt working jobs aren't rocket science and you have a lot of idle brain time while just moving dirt, loading a truck, digging a ditch, etc. I try to use this time for WOTB. I have never advertised my business, yet keep busy. I started out with the attitude that if people didn't want to recommend me for my work then I would find something else to do. I return phone calls immediately, say what I am going to do and then do it, start a job and finish it, etc. This has worked for me.
I will never have employees in California for two reasons - workmans comp ins. here is a killer, and I don't want to be chasing after problems my workers create and fixing broken equipment when I really like the operating part of the business. I work hard, but I like what I do and make a good living at it.
I have formed good business relationships with others (vendors and others like me I sometimes join for larger jobs) and have some good guys I can refer jobs to that don't suit me or when I am just too busy.
I specialize in finish grading and building horse arenas, but do many other jobs as well - one of my favorites is building motocross courses. I work for building contractors, landscapers, and homeowners. 90% of my jobs are within about 15 miles of were I live. When I started out, I took the difficult jobs that others didn't want to do. I felt that they made me a better operator.I still like to tackle the really challenging ones, it makes things more interesting and adds a lot of satisfaction when done.
The bottom line is that I like playing in the dirt and being creative about it.
My method may not be right for some people, but it works great for me. Everyone just had to find out what works for them and then put everything into it. There are a lot of different ways to make it in this business, and you never quit learning.

YellowDogSVC
11-06-2007, 10:10 PM
I'm not allowed to hire anyone else due to WCB regulations (B*STARDS!!) but usually if a customer wants me to do the job, he wants me. So I hope cloning comes about in the next 5 years or so, 'cuz I'm not looking forward to getting screwed over.


I tried cloning but ended up with 2 100lb. teenage girls and a 4 year old girl. Guess I didn't clone right.

YellowDogSVC
11-06-2007, 10:19 PM
Bob, you sound a lot like me.

I have 2 Bobcat s300's k series, high flows (one just sold this week), a toolcat, 10yd dump, 2 flatbed trucks, Vermeer chipper with loader, tree shear, grapples, buckets, grader attachment, roller attachment and on and on not included saws, pole saws, ropes, welding machine. If I had only invested that money. LOL. I just don't have enough time to do all of it and work on my own ranch that mother nature keeps damaging. I have stacks of industry related magazines (dirt and trees) piled up, 2 websites to maintain, and just not enough time in the day because I like 8 hours of sleep. I am not complaining but someone else mentioned cloning... :) My wife is great, however. She makes calls in her down time at work and helps me there arranging service calls, calling people for me and returning some inquiries.
I am lucky, too, that many of my jobs are within 30 mintues of the house. I just wish I had one or two guys who want to learn and are willing to put the hours in to pick up on what I have learned. I already had the learning curve and I am willing to share knowledge but at the same time, I am afraid someone would take that knowledge and try and go it alone. I can't tell you how much of a learning curve there is for all the different machines I have (and have become proficient at) but it's a long one as I'm sure you know.
I've been thinking more and more about comfort. If I can stay as comfortable as possible in a machine, then I can keep doing this but I want to raise my revenues and that would mean bringing in some help. This line of work can bring me anywhere from $700-1500 day for clearing and chipping respectively and if I could combine those numbers I could pay the right person well and still have increased revenue...but not as much control (at least that's what I fear).

YellowDogSVC
11-06-2007, 10:20 PM
Iinto it. There are a lot of different ways to make it in this business, and you never quit learning.

would love to see pics of the motocross trails.

patpls
11-06-2007, 11:25 PM
Hey Bob, are you still running vts on your skid? Would you say they are helping you get things done quicker and easier than other tracks or wheels? Do you feel less beat up after a days work?

RockSet N' Grade
11-06-2007, 11:36 PM
I have one full time compadre. We mesh extremely well and have worked together for 3 plus years. We don't say much to each other during the day....don't need to.....we have learned to think alike from process to product. I feel most fortunate. I also have a part timer who runs equipment C+ to B-, but he brings his 10 wheeler so we have access to that. If he gets a call to do trucking, our deal is he takes off and does trucking. On the positive side, he is an ace mechanic and has been doing all my mechanic work at his hourly laborer rate. On larger jobs, I try to team up with other outfits and that has been satisfactory. I really enjoy getting out there and doing the work myself - especially the creative or difficult jobs. I have no ambition or aspirations of getting large, I like it just the way it sits. My take or general thinking from past experiences is that you can make it being a small business or by becoming a large business, but the risk is greatest in being a medium sized business. I ran a Painting Business and then at a different time, ran a Framing Company and had about 20-25 full timers on each of those separate ventures. My job description changed into management and I just don't like that. I then transitioned into real estate development and had a 10 plus full time crew.........all I did in the beginning of that, is trade money. When I got rid of all my employee's and developed a circle of good sub's the money poured in. So, I have been on both sides , and prefer at this point in my life to keep a small, well organized, high quality service. I enjoy, on the whole, the lifestyle and the work and if I had a choice to do something different..I would still choose exactly where I am and what I am doing. Lots of benefits to being a small operator........

Bob Horrell
11-07-2007, 12:27 AM
YellowDogSCV, I don't have any current pics of motocross tracks I have built. I'll see if I can find any old ones. I raced for many years, am too old to race now, so I just build em. Still love the sport, though.
patpls, I still have the VTS sytem and still love it. I just keep it on my S250 and use it when I need the special things it does best. I have my skiploader for the other things that might be hard on the tracks or they aren't especially suited for. They really work well for building the motocross tracks - can move a lot of dirt in a hurry and allow easy work on the steep jump slopes. I pretty much use the machine like a small dozer, except it can also carry dirt, not just push it. With a 4/in/one bucket it becomes a very versatile machine. Overall the VTS has performed flawlessly with absolutely no problems so far.

Fieldman12
11-07-2007, 08:03 PM
When I was younger I wanted to be a big farmer. Now that I'm older that does not seem that important anymore. I have all I can take care with what we already have. Im just starting out doing some loader work for people. Dad is retired so he can help some. Maybe some day ad one person but Im so picky about my equipment I just prefer that me and dad do it.

SiteSolutions
11-07-2007, 10:27 PM
I tried cloning but ended up with 2 100lb. teenage girls and a 4 year old girl. Guess I didn't clone right.

A buddy at work told me that making girls was easy; said "you have the pattern right there in front of you."

YellowDogSVC
11-07-2007, 10:34 PM
A buddy at work told me that making girls was easy; said "you have the pattern right there in front of you."

LOL. If I had only made east german or good, strong russian girls, I could grow the family business. :)

RockSet N' Grade
11-08-2007, 12:17 AM
YellowDog...it's still not too late........mail order

YellowDogSVC
11-08-2007, 09:16 AM
I'm waiting for the soviet block to get back into full swing with Putin's "reforms". I figure I can get some hard workers who will do jobs Americans just won't do! :)

hosejockey2002
11-08-2007, 03:43 PM
I'm waiting for the soviet block to get back into full swing with Putin's "reforms". I figure I can get some hard workers who will do jobs Americans just won't do!

If you are expecting hard work from those who don't like Putin's reforms, you will most likely be sorely disappointed. Around here we have many who hail from behind the former Iron Curtain. Fine folk they are, but not the sort you will find pushing a mower or in a ditch laying pipe.

dozerman21
11-08-2007, 10:02 PM
I tried cloning but ended up with 2 100lb. teenage girls and a 4 year old girl. Guess I didn't clone right.



I'm pretty much in the same boat as you. No employees right now. I would like to hire a good reliable operator in the next couple of years. It is nice to be able to take off when you want and not have to worry about employee(s), but it would also be nice to take off and still have money coming in.:clapping: Having to do everything can wear on you after a while. I think one employee that could operate would be ideal for me. The problem is finding someone who is reliable and willing to learn, and doesn't have all the usual issues.

It sounds like you have a pretty good niche down there. I'd like to get into more land clearing at some point.

Are you sitting on this for when your girls start to date?:laugh:

Gravel Rat
11-09-2007, 03:08 AM
Most excavation contractors in my area have 1 or 2 employees its all they need. One of the reasons why it is hard to get a job with a excavation contractor. The way things are going if they hire you, you need to have experience no time to train people anymore.

I don't know if its the same in the US but for years contractors never trained younger operators and now its back firing. The old guys with experience are hanging up the feed bag and there is nobody with experience to replace them.

To find a experienced operator younger than 45 is really rare most operators are 50 and older most of them are close to 65.

It will be interesting to see in 5-10 years from now how many excavation companies that will be still operating. Not in my area alone it will be through out the province.

bobcat_ron
11-09-2007, 10:05 AM
Most of the new operators in my area have been trained all wrong when it comes to digging and specialized techniques, so we tend not to hire anyone who has any training from any heavy equipment operator training school, more favouritism is shown to the guy who was a grunt with companies that slowly got on the job training.

Gravel Rat
11-09-2007, 02:26 PM
I'am not a beleiver in heavy equipment training schools either. You want to learn you learn on the job. I think those equipment schools try make you think you need to go to school so they can make money. Its not cheap I looked into it for curiosity and it was couple grand.

With the economy in B.C. it is in a boom companies want experienced operators now that they can stick in a machine and work. When the economy slows down they don't want to hire a person to train.

One of the biggest trades that is feeling the crunch is lineman that work on powerlines. Over the years no new guys were ever trained the old farts are retiring or are forced to stay working because there is nobody to replace them. I was told B.C. alone is short something like 2000 or more lineman and it takes 4 to 5 years of training.

One of the guys I went to school with is working for one of the local excavation contractors. He wants to get a job with the same gov't company I work for. I said to him stick with the contractor more you learn the better because 5-10 years down the road you will have a steady job making 25-30 dollars per hour.

Another thing that is happening is contractors are under alot of stress nowwadays. Homeowners are getting more and more demanding there is more rules and regulations than ever. To do anything you need half a forest of paper work and approval for this approval for that.

YellowDogSVC
11-09-2007, 04:37 PM
If you are expecting hard work from those who don't like Putin's reforms, you will most likely be sorely disappointed. Around here we have many who hail from behind the former Iron Curtain. Fine folk they are, but not the sort you will find pushing a mower or in a ditch laying pipe.

It was meant tongue in cheek but I guess things really have changed. I remember how the true legal immigrants would work hard especially the Russian and eastern Europeans. I don't think a lot of people want to work hard anymore. I get so many calls to fix other contractor's messes because they took money and didn't finish or didn't do a good job and there is hardly enough left in the budget to fix it. I'm as lazy as the next guy when I want to be but when someone pays me, I do the job as if it's my own back yard (and I keep it pretty nice on a budget). I was hoping to find a helper that wanted to learn and wasn't afraid of hard work but those folks are hard to find.

Digdeep
11-09-2007, 08:04 PM
I don't have any employees, and I do most of my work in the summer (snow removal in the winter). I don't advertise either. I used to be a Bobcat salesman here in wisconsin, made good money, but the hours behind the windshield got to me. I had a degree in mathmatics and went back to school and got my teachers certificate and now teach 8th grade math full time. The summers off allow me to continue playing with my two toys, although I'm looking at trading in my S220 for a ASV RC30 for smaller jobs. Most of my work comes in the form of subcontracts (lawn removals/installs and general landscaping) for guys I sold equipment to in the past. It keeps me busy and augments my teachers pay. I'm a compact equipment addict and still read and observe all of the new equipment coming out.

Scag48
11-09-2007, 11:24 PM
When I was excavating, I was by myself most of the time. I liked it this way, I could do whatever, whenever I wanted as long as progress was being made and the bills were getting sent out, but sometimes you needed an extra hand to ram together some sewer pipe, etc.. For the most part, this setup wasn't too bad, I didn't have to make the payments on the machine, but I did everything else. Basically, I got paid $10 an hour to completely run a business, thanks dad. :laugh:

YellowDogSVC
11-09-2007, 11:55 PM
I. I'm a compact equipment addict and still read and observe all of the new equipment coming out.

So what's bobcat got coming out that's new and better? Any thoughts?

Digdeep
11-10-2007, 09:27 AM
So what's bobcat got coming out that's new and better? Any thoughts?

I think it is almost a given that the Kubota engine is gone very soon, probably early 2008. I had also heard that they were going to get rid of the transverse mounted engine. I hope so. It will finally allow them to acheive higher hydraulic flows when the pump is under load. A direct driven pump is much better than the belt they have used for years. The new K series is better now (the engine doesn't die anymore when you really load up the hydraulic pump), but they still don't come close to the other manufacturer's high flows when the pump is being worked hard (ASV and CAT for example). It's a combination of a small displacement engine, torque, gear pumps instead of piston, and belt driven vs. direct drive.

YellowDogSVC
11-10-2007, 11:36 AM
Hmmm. So you think they will get rid of Kubota engines? I don't know. There are so many Kubotas that have been used for years and they are a fairly low maintenance motor. Interesting to see how things pan out.
If Bobcat changes its motor orientation, it will take a complete redesign so that it can be serviced. That will be interesting too.

bobcat_ron
11-10-2007, 12:26 PM
From who is this info coming? A real IR rep or just some guy on a corner wearing a CAT themed trench coat?

Digdeep
11-10-2007, 01:31 PM
I heard about the possible change from the transverse engine from the Bobcat circles, and the change from the Kubota engine just makes sense due to Doosan buying Bobcat and Bobcats announcement to brand the Kioti tractor next year. Kubota had taken Kioti to court and won, and why would Kubota continue to sell bobcat engines when Bobcat is entering into direct competition with them in the compact tractor market, ezpecially with someone that Kubota sued. I think the Bobcats will end up with Daedong engines. Kubota will also probably introduce a skid steer to goe with their mini-ex's. Just an educated guess.

bobcat_ron
11-10-2007, 03:15 PM
Yuck, I hate the name Daedong, sounds like a porn name!

YellowDogSVC
11-10-2007, 04:23 PM
Well, if my Bobcat says anything for daedong like "donkey kong" "King Kong" "ding dong" or "long duck dong", I think I am switching to CAT.:)

bobcat_ron
11-10-2007, 04:28 PM
HA! I'm way ahead of you, I'm making a phone call next week!

ksss
11-10-2007, 08:13 PM
I think the new motor will likely be Korean. The rest of the machine may well be as well. Unlikely that the Koreans will utilize anything that is Japanese. Especially if they have access to an alternative. Has anybody heard if the deal is offical yet?

Construct'O
11-10-2007, 09:01 PM
From who is this info coming? A real IR rep or just some guy on a corner wearing a CAT themed trench coat?

I heard it from a Doosan Rep, that had a Cat hat on and wearing a Deere jacket!!!!!!!!:)

Makes sense too me.:dancing: :usflag:

Fieldman12
11-11-2007, 12:01 AM
I think some changes are coming with Bobcat but I don't see them dropping Kubota that quick. Kubota does sell allot of compact tractors but also look at how much business Bobcat has brought to the table for Bobcat. Like others have said it would take a design change. We all know they have known about this buy out for a while but I don't see changes very major just yet. I see the remote control Bobcat as one way Bobcat is trying to hold its name at the top. We all still have to admit there is tons of Bobcats out there new and old. They have to be doing something right even if we all don't like the price of the machines or some of the specs and features. I know there name has helped carry them a bunch though in the past few years. I think it would be silly on Doosan's part to change them that quick and not really know the product. Give them a year or two to get there feet wet.

Fieldman12
11-11-2007, 12:03 AM
I think the Bobcat and Kubota relationship has been a benefit to both sides. We shall see what Doosan thinks about that.

twj721
11-11-2007, 08:12 AM
I tried cloning but ended up with 2 100lb. teenage girls and a 4 year old girl. Guess I didn't clone right.
Not bad. You know some girls also love to play in the dirt too. Think that when I was growing up they were called tomboys My wife told me along time again that she was never in to the Barbie doll thing that she was most happy out in the sand box playing .Her younger sister different story prim & proper make up , and dressed to the max would never even go near the sand box
Me I have 3 grown boys and only 1 of them helps me and the only thing he likes top do is bush hog told him that he could run the dump truck he replied dad I am around them things 5 days a week on my regular job why would I want to do it 6 days :hammerhead: