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View Full Version : Life of a Spray Tech?


wooley99
01-20-2008, 12:06 AM
Tell me about the life of a spray tech? A guy I met at my night job is an area manager for a local pest control / fert and squirt company. They will have some openings this year from people retiring. The company has a good reputation, it's one of two that I told the few customers that asked to talk to, or anyone that threatened to have the spotted dog guys come to their lawn. No prior relationship by me, just knew folks before I started mowing last year that liked them.

I retired from the Air Force last summer and started a lawn business last spring because I still hadn't decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still haven't.

Anyway, back to the original question; for those that have techs working for them can you give me some insight?

Thanks!

Whitey4
01-20-2008, 12:38 AM
Sorry, but I can't make heads or tails out what you wrote here:

The company has a good reputation, it's one of two that I told the few customers that asked to talk to, or anyone that threatened to have the spotted dog guys come to their lawn. No prior relationship by me, just knew folks before I started mowing last year that liked them.

Rayholio
01-20-2008, 01:29 AM
LOL Yeah.. It varries a great deal based on who you're working for... you could be pulling 12 hour shifts, and given upsale tasks on top of a demanding route... or it could be 6 hour days, and little empisis put on propper apps..

overall, I really love the work though.. being outside, changing locations every several minutes(usually on a schedule), seeing the results, and the excersize are all part of the job... you gotta be able to retain some knowledge, and follow the 'rules' perfectly, because it's state, and federally regualted. and in every aspect of this business, you must be a detail oriented person.. you won't last long if you're not.

If they ONLY do liquid apps, then excersize will be minimum.. If they do a lot of granular (and don't use ride ons) then expect some days to be greuling...

I'm a owner, so my perspective may be a little different.. but I can't think of anything I'd rather do.... I mean ANYTHING.. and people like myself are ALWAYS looking for like-minded individuals..

wooley99
01-20-2008, 12:18 PM
Let me try this again while sober (I may or may not make more sense that way);

Sorry, but I can't make heads or tails out what you wrote here:

The company has a good reputation,

I don't know jack about pest control, lawn chemical companies. There are two in the area that friends of mine have used and my friends had good things to say about them. No one I know has had their lawn or shrubs killed by either of these companies or had a bill dispute with them.

it's one of two that I told the few customers that asked to talk to, or anyone that threatened to have the spotted dog guys come to their lawn.

When mowing customers asked me about taking care of lawn weeds, fire ants, mole crickets, etc - I can't do it and don't have a company that I work with to refer them to but I would recommend they call one of the two I had heard good things about. Anyone I ever talked to that mentioned a certain national company I would ask them to please call someone else and suggest one of these two other companies.

No prior relationship by me, just knew folks before I started mowing last year that liked them.

I don't already have any kind of relationship with the company I'm thinking about working for.

I don't know anything about working as a spray tech and would appreciate any kind of insight on work, salary, etc. you folks can offer.

Rayholio
01-20-2008, 01:02 PM
around here, spray techs are paid minimum wage.. (which is now 7.50-8.00) That's what they've always been paid, and it was considered a good wage until my fellow citizens got stooo-pid.

At any rate, I pay my techs 10-12 an hour. That's considered extremely high for this area, (avg income is $13,000 per person per capita in my city)

so.. spray techs arn't paid much.

Midstate Lawncare
01-20-2008, 01:35 PM
around here, spray techs are paid minimum wage.. (which is now 7.50-8.00) That's what they've always been paid, and it was considered a good wage until my fellow citizens got stooo-pid.

At any rate, I pay my techs 10-12 an hour. That's considered extremely high for this area, (avg income is $13,000 per person per capita in my city)

so.. spray techs arn't paid much.

When I get enough work to employ someone to spray for me, they will have at least 3 years experience and start at $12.00 per hour+10% production bonus(ammount over weekly goal) + 10% sales bonus. after 3 months they will be given up to a $1 per hour raise for the first year and no less than $.25 per hour per year raise after that. when they get to $600.00 per week "salary" they will be moved into management/sales. Your "good" spray guys can devestate your business if they decide to go out on their own. No compete contracts "cant hold water"...believe me..."I didn't get wet". Make sure you stress getting the best scores on your tests reguardless of pass-fail. I scored an 88 on my Il gen. standards, 88 on rights of way, 90 on ornamentals, 90 on turf and 92 on mosquito. all out of 100. I only know 1 person "personally" who scored higher than me and only 3 people "personally" who passed all of these tests on the first try.... except for mosquito, I don't know anyone who has that license. Read Read Read!!!! make sure there is no question that you can't answer. You can make some serious money applicating, just make sure you know your stuff before you offer it yourself.
This is my 5th year "applicating" if you have any questions pm me or e-mail me at perfectlawnscape@live.com All I do in the winter is dork out and read, gain 30 lbs and make sure there is no question I can't answer.

Whitey4
01-20-2008, 03:08 PM
LOL... yes. sober I get now!

I really don't have much info for you, but I can tell you how I got started... and am in the middle of that journey. I picked up some properties early last year. Then I got a fairly steady flow of "other than weekly" type maintenance accounts. It seemed to me I could make a go of it, but also realised I had to do things differently if I wanted the business to be more than some part time schlepping. I snuck in a few apps at the end of the year, and people wanted someone who could do it all... one stop shopping.

I had a cursory background in ornamentals, but really only on the design and selection side, doing installs. NO LCO around here knows how to diagnose or address turf or ornamental problems. They can spot a fungus alright, but they really don't know what type it is, and obviously can't can't correct the problem unless they get have some dumb luck in getting the right fungicide and just happen to apply at the right time.

So, I started studying. Took a 30 hour course, and have been hitting the books an average of 5 to 6 hours a day. My state required certification test is the 29th for categories 3a and 3b. That's ornamentals and turf. After that, I have about 6 more books on my buy list. This year I'll be a certified tech, and will have my new company registered as a pesticide buiness. Costs will be different state to stae, but my costs not including equipment is about $1000 for the classes, the test, the certification and the business registration. Tack on another $145 to join my local LCO/pesticide association, which has been VERY valuable. Other start up costs here (state, county, town fees) about $600.

Being an LCO, I will only be using pesticides about ten days per season. That helps limit chronic exposure issues to a large extent, which I see as the biggest drawback in being only on the chemical side of the business. It also helps me use IPM techniques more effectively, as I can change more boilogical, physical and cultural controls on a given property. Total property management, instead of less flexible more sporadic use of controls.

We'll see how well it works. If you were in NY, all you would need is an 8 hour apprentice training session, and then be supervised by a certified applicator, much of which is "off site" supervision. The applicator would not have to be with you when you put down unrestricted use pesticides. So, you would on your own sprayer truck most of the time.

For me, it's the difference between schlepping into a job every day vs. being challenged and doing something I love. I could never just be a full time applicator. Before the apps guys jump in my chit, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it just isn't what I want to do. I want to be a horticulturist that makes enough dough to live comfortably. I like scouting properties for potential problems, evaluating why some plant life is stressed, diagnose and treat the problem. Designing plantings... all stuff I love to do. Dragging a hose around all day? Not for me. It's sort of like the difference between a general practioner MD vs. a brain surgeon. I prefer the more wholistic approach.

ted putnam
01-20-2008, 03:47 PM
LOL... yes. sober I get now!

I really don't have much info for you, but I can tell you how I got started... and am in the middle of that journey. I picked up some properties early last year. Then I got a fairly steady flow of "other than weekly" type maintenance accounts. It seemed to me I could make a go of it, but also realised I had to do things differently if I wanted the business to be more than some part time schlepping. I snuck in a few apps at the end of the year, and people wanted someone who could do it all... one stop shopping.

I had a cursory background in ornamentals, but really only on the design and selection side, doing installs. NO LCO around here knows how to diagnose or address turf or ornamental problems. They can spot a fungus alright, but they really don't know what type it is, and obviously can't can't correct the problem unless they get have some dumb luck in getting the right fungicide and just happen to apply at the right time.

So, I started studying. Took a 30 hour course, and have been hitting the books an average of 5 to 6 hours a day. My state required certification test is the 29th for categories 3a and 3b. That's ornamentals and turf. After that, I have about 6 more books on my buy list. This year I'll be a certified tech, and will have my new company registered as a pesticide buiness. Costs will be different state to stae, but my costs not including equipment is about $1000 for the classes, the test, the certification and the business registration. Tack on another $145 to join my local LCO/pesticide association, which has been VERY valuable. Other start up costs here (state, county, town fees) about $600.

Being an LCO, I will only be using pesticides about ten days per season. That helps limit chronic exposure issues to a large extent, which I see as the biggest drawback in being only on the chemical side of the business. It also helps me use IPM techniques more effectively, as I can change more boilogical, physical and cultural controls on a given property. Total property management, instead of less flexible more sporadic use of controls.

We'll see how well it works. If you were in NY, all you would need is an 8 hour apprentice training session, and then be supervised by a certified applicator, much of which is "off site" supervision. The applicator would not have to be with you when you put down unrestricted use pesticides. So, you would on your own sprayer truck most of the time.

For me, it's the difference between schlepping into a job every day vs. being challenged and doing something I love. I could never just be a full time applicator. Before the apps guys jump in my chit, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it just isn't what I want to do. I want to be a horticulturist that makes enough dough to live comfortably. I like scouting properties for potential problems, evaluating why some plant life is stressed, diagnose and treat the problem. Designing plantings... all stuff I love to do. Dragging a hose around all day? Not for me. It's sort of like the difference between a general practioner MD vs. a brain surgeon. I prefer the more wholistic approach.

I'd like to be a Brain Surgeon like you but I guess I'll just be an MD. The patients in my area want a checkup every 7-8 weeks, maybe a pain killer every now and then, but they aren't really in the market for Brain Surgery!

Whitey4
01-20-2008, 04:17 PM
I'd like to be a Brain Surgeon like you but I guess I'll just be an MD. The patients in my area want a checkup every 7-8 weeks, maybe a pain killer every now and then, but they aren't really in the market for Brain Surgery!


You kinda missed the analogy here, Ted. Being on all the properties I maintain every week was the general practioner connection. I do the check-ups and the physicals. I scout and monitor. If I find a tree problem I can't figure out (aside from the fact I don't have the equipment for tree spraying), I call in the expert, an arbotist (the brain surgeon). If a chinch bug problem occurs, 7-8 weeks is hardly often enough to treat such a problem before significant damage might be done.

I'll be on my stomache with a hand magnifier every week. I'll be scouting the ornamentals for signs of infestations and diseases. If I come across a plant with galls, I want to know the cause. If I can't identify something, it's off to the coop. If I see black fungus growth on a bush under the drip line of a tree, then I'll look at the tree. Could be caused by sap droppings from aphids or whatever.

I'm interested in regular scouting and monitoring. Early ID of problems. I have a lot to learn, and this is the best way I can see to do that. Field experience. Just saying that this is why I got into the business. I've won blue ribbons at the county fair for produce. This is my next step. I love to nurture things that grow. But, I sure as chittly aint no brain surgeon when it comes to the apps side.... far from it.

ted putnam
01-20-2008, 06:01 PM
You kinda missed the analogy here, Ted. Being on all the properties I maintain every week was the general practioner connection. I do the check-ups and the physicals. I scout and monitor. If I find a tree problem I can't figure out (aside from the fact I don't have the equipment for tree spraying), I call in the expert, an arbotist (the brain surgeon). If a chinch bug problem occurs, 7-8 weeks is hardly often enough to treat such a problem before significant damage might be done.

I'll be on my stomache with a hand magnifier every week. I'll be scouting the ornamentals for signs of infestations and diseases. If I come across a plant with galls, I want to know the cause. If I can't identify something, it's off to the coop. If I see black fungus growth on a bush under the drip line of a tree, then I'll look at the tree. Could be caused by sap droppings from aphids or whatever.

I'm interested in regular scouting and monitoring. Early ID of problems. I have a lot to learn, and this is the best way I can see to do that. Field experience. Just saying that this is why I got into the business. I've won blue ribbons at the county fair for produce. This is my next step. I love to nurture things that grow. But, I sure as chittly aint no brain surgeon when it comes to the apps side.... far from it.

Whitey,
I was not trying to be a smarta$$. I agree with you. In fact, when I first started that was what I wanted to do. The "one stop shopping" thing. Unfortunately, my clientele here limits me on that. Most of them are just working class "Joes," and cannot or will not budget that level of service. Now, if I was in say certain parts of California, Florida or the Northeast, I might be able to pull it off. I've had to instead build my business without those big dreams. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy what I do, I make an excellent living. It's just kinda like wanting to be a brain surgeon in New York but ending up being a general practicioner in smallsville.

Whitey4
01-20-2008, 08:17 PM
I hear ya Ted. My county has one of the highest per capita household incomes in the nation. I happen to drag that number down some...lol... but even a modest unimproved Cape Cod house here goes for about 400k on a 90 X 120 plot. Split levels and high ranches are 550-600, and that's in the middle class areas where I hawk my services. Everyone is a two income family, at a minimum. So, people just don't have the time to do their own mainanence and upkeep. Lots of guys hold down 2 jobs or have something else going on the side. If a family doesn't make at least 100k, they don't own a home. Property taxes alone on a standard plot run 6-7k a year. Some pay 10k. Even the rent on a two room effiency apartment in a development is about 1,100 a month.

Aside from that, I see VERY few spray trucks around here. I don't think I even saw one this past summer. The arborists have almost been put out of the spraying business because of restrictions. They do removals and prunings now, and little else. Not much they can do with hort oil and soap.

That is why I will just use mostly granular apps and backpack sprayers, and stick to this business model. The properties are small. Perfect for a small solo like me. Even these LCO's have no clue. They don't even know how to get rid of nut sedge. Once that stuff pops up this year, I will likely double my customer base, just by knocking on a few doors. I've seen otherwise beautiful lawns just overwhelemed by nut sedge. I know they are gettings apps... likely illegally from their LCO. They can't diagnose a dead rat in the street!

But, whether or not this works remains to be seen. It's really my first season. Necessity is also the mother of need, besides invention. I could be all wet with this business plan.