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View Full Version : Think back to your where you got your start...


hi_speedreed
06-03-2011, 12:29 AM
I am glad I stumbled across this site. I have read a lot of good information, but I have also read a lot of comments that lead me to believe every person here started their business with a $8000+ mower, top of the line hand helds, new trucks and trailers.

I am coming up on my 1yr anniversary. I mow with a 42" Toro Timecutter, and a 21" MTD Yard Machine push mower. I tow it on a trailer that I got a deal on and I trim with an Echo SRM 230. I currently have 11 clients and I still work my full time job at Home Depot. I am sure some of you started with the capital to purchase great equipment or inherited your business but I am also sure many of you did not. So just for S & G what did you start with?

Turf Dawg
06-03-2011, 12:48 AM
When I started in 95 it was part time with my nice Honda mower and my Homelite trimmer and a 2hp edger. My neighbors were always wanting me to mow for them and I did not want my wife working since she was about to domino with or second child. It was not long before I bought a riding mower but quickly sold it to buy walkbehinds. I guess some start out with big loans but I started with the minimum. It did not take long till I was needing faster and more equipement though.

MOHUSTLER
06-03-2011, 10:02 AM
I started out with my cousin when I was 13 he was 16 and we used my dads old ford truck, I had a John Deere SABRE (mtd) mower. His dad has a old husky brand (mtd). We both had RYOBI trimmers that you could get to start mabey once a day at best.

We both saved up our money and without doing much shopping around went and bought a Woods 52" outfont when them and grasshopper were the same.

Took on 2 LARGE jobs. Both over 20 acres haha. That was a blast spending our whole summer mowing when we were suppost to be inside playing videogames or at the pool.

At the time I was 15 and he was 18 and we brought in over 20k that summer, while our friends were flipping burgers for $5 an hour.

It snowballed and he went into the military and I got burnt out of the mowing side and here I am today a dealer.

jason72g
06-03-2011, 12:12 PM
My partner and I are both career bankers, we are both 25 years old with great credit. We have scored 25 accounts, of which about 8 of them are weekly accounts, with no advertising at all. Just shows what a good reputation in your community can do for you. This is our first real, full season. Here is the thing though, we can sacrifice a profit for one season, in order to get all of the equipment we feel is necessary. In other words, our bank salaries are sufficient to live on. No expenses were/are paid out of our personal incomes.

We have a 6x12 enlosed trailer, a 2011 Hustler ZTR, a BOP 36" WB, a 21" Honda Comm, all STIHL handhelds, including backpack blowers etc. We have 2 loans that both equal about $10,000 together, in which we pay close to $1000.00 on each loan, each month ($2000.00) every month, which will make them paid off by next season's startup.

We are looking to get a company truck pretty soon (something 2-3 years old.) And the trailer will be lettered next month.

I will say this though... It may not be the norm to be able to do this, but it has worked out great for us, we put money in our personal pockets every month.

Our thinking is, is if we can get in to a position that will allow us to maintain the quality of life we have as bankers, sacrificing big payouts now, then maybe next year we can go at it full time, needing little other than routine maintenance and overhead costs.

topsites
06-03-2011, 01:12 PM
Debt looks beautiful from the outside.

mdlwn1
06-03-2011, 01:18 PM
I cashed out my IRA for 7k...bought a 180k mile p/u and trailer. Was given 2 commercial WB's, 21", trimmer at principal +12% interest...and free shop space for 1 season. Ate rice and beans for 2 weeks.

GravyTrain
06-03-2011, 02:22 PM
I can't imagine those companies that started out with the $10k mower, $5000 trailer, new diesel truck and all the bells and whistles are even on this board, because they probably aren't around any more.

jason might be around for a while, as he seems to have a pretty solid idea and is not relying on income this first year.

Most of the guys up to their ears in debt before mowing a single yard have no idea what they are getting into. You are doing it right, but you will slowly want to build up to more reliable equipment. If nothing else, it saves you time (and therefore money) not having to constantly fix broken equipment, it also looks a lot better when you can tell your customer that you have commercial equipment that is built to last and you have backup equipment. Stating that fact to potential customers has won me bids where I was the highest price.

As for me, I started and still have a used Turf Tracer HP, gave 4k for it. a trailer i paid about 1k for, and stihl handhelds new, but all bought during a local businesses annual sale. I still have everything I started with (5 years ago), but have added equipment and upgraded almost everything.

jason72g
06-03-2011, 03:16 PM
I can't imagine those companies that started out with the $10k mower, $5000 trailer, new diesel truck and all the bells and whistles are even on this board, because they probably aren't around any more.

jason might be around for a while, as he seems to have a pretty solid idea and is not relying on income this first year.

Most of the guys up to their ears in debt before mowing a single yard have no idea what they are getting into. You are doing it right, but you will slowly want to build up to more reliable equipment. If nothing else, it saves you time (and therefore money) not having to constantly fix broken equipment, it also looks a lot better when you can tell your customer that you have commercial equipment that is built to last and you have backup equipment. Stating that fact to potential customers has won me bids where I was the highest price.

As for me, I started and still have a used Turf Tracer HP, gave 4k for it. a trailer i paid about 1k for, and stihl handhelds new, but all bought during a local businesses annual sale. I still have everything I started with (5 years ago), but have added equipment and upgraded almost everything.


You are exactly right. I understand a lot of people rely on their lawn maintenance income to live on, but we are in a unique situation that we don't have to. Would I want to? Hell yes! I would love to do this as my sole source of income! Which hopefully next year we can do.

As for Topsites comment, debt is a great thing when used wisely. Debt can get you in some serious trouble, and as bankers we know first hand that if used in a smart way, debt is great! We will have both loans paid of at year end hopefully and will have paid 0% interest... Why not?

LewisLawn
06-03-2011, 03:28 PM
I started mowing 10 yrs ago with a john deere 170 that i inherited thought i could mow cheaper than what my father in law was paying to have his condos mowed for..after second week JD gave out on me and bought a 48" WB on credit paid off quickly...have reinvested in handhelds every year always need a back up....have expanded to avg 20+ accts a year plus misc. work extra leaf removal and mulch etc...purchased a ZTR little over a year ago needed it for productivity....work full time 8-4 mon-fri want to develop this so I can turn it over to my son someday...its helped make life enjoyable beyond what the daily job could afford me and the family

gebby
06-04-2011, 12:05 AM
Started 16 years ago with 1,000.00 borrowed from my mother.
Bought a Troybilt 33" POS walk behind. Still have it and runs.
1 Lawn Boy POS self propelled for home.
1 POS weed eater brand strig trimmer.
1 Riding Gravely 48 inch deck.
1 1969 GMC 2500 pick up truck. Bought from my dad and just sold 4 weeks ago.
First account was a truck stop for 165.00 a week. Wiser now, never ever take on a truck stop. The world is a truckers trash can. They also use York Peppermint Patties for mouth wash as that was the favorite candy bar wrapper they threw out the most. You just never know what you might find in the grass or parking lot at a truck stop.
Won a Kubota lawn tractor that summer in a raffel, 5.00 ticket, sold that and paid mom off been going and growing steady since then. It took me about 10 years to buy a zero turn, a newer truck and a trailer with cash. I continue to buy good nice equipment that holds up very well. I had to start with junk. When you have started with junk, you really appreciate good quality tools. If I had to guess truck, triailer, mowers, hand helds, spray equipment, all well over 50,000.00
So when I see a fellow out there in a old PU truck, humping his a** off, I don't laugh at him. I remember me being that guy. I admire him for trying and doing something other than sitting on his a** thinking the world owes him something. Every one of us is one heart beat away from being in a bad position. My wife hasn't worked in 16 years, my job is to take care of her and my children. Her job is to take care of them. She works much harder than me. By the grace of God, I am a very luck man.

gibbonsballer10
06-04-2011, 12:23 AM
Im 19 now, when I was 12 a neighbor or two asked me to cut their grass, all I had was a toro personal pace a homelite trimmer and a homelite blower. The next year I decided to put out a few fliers, picked up 3 or 4 more new lawns. Picked up lawns from referrals or neighbors of the lawns I cut until I had about 25. Decided I needed a bigger mower. Asked my dad if I could use his 1995 toro wb and trailer since he used to have a little lawn gig, he let me do that. Then when I was 17, my moms friend said his friend was trying to get rid of lawns, picked up about 15 from him. Then I went and bought an enclosed trailer and a newer wb, all with my money and cash. Every year my profit has been way above expenses, and the great thing, all 40 of my lawns are within 1 mile of each other. And I do this while a full time college student.

chuacro
06-04-2011, 12:35 AM
I started my buisness 4 years ago with my honda walk behind and craftsman walk behind as a backup. I loaded these in my van along with a curve shaft trimmer and Sears hand blower. I now run with a Mini Z 36 and Walker 42. I have commercial hand held equipment. I owe no debt on my equipment. At this time I would have no problem buying a dream mower on the right credit program. This forum has helped me with buying used equipment and saved me half price on new costs. Both mowers have around 300 hours of use.

peahlybros.
06-04-2011, 01:29 AM
Im 20 now and a full time engineering student with a full time summer internship. I started at 14 with my dads push mower and linetrimmer that I pulled behind my bike. After many equipment upgrades over the years, my younger brother and I work together and have the equipment below. Many people ask how I started the company and got to where I am now.... my response is always I was the typical neighborhood kid mowing lawns who just never gave it up. hahaha

7625
06-04-2011, 02:42 AM
My son had a few yards that he mowed while in high school and was leaving to go to college. I decided to keep mowing them for the extra money. He had been using my 42" Sears rider, 22'sp mower,and weedeater and stihl bp blower. He had around five yards. Well his friend, was going to college to and asked if I wanted his yards also and I said yes, and I picked up another thirty plus and that was the beginning of my lawn service. Of course I found out very quickly that Sears equipment would not hold up so I up graded to a ztr, and other commercial equipment and before you knew it I had over fifty accounts. Oh yeah, I already owned a tandem trailer, and a pickup,( the same one that I'm driving now). I've done a lot of upgrading since then, including grey hairs, but I still teach school and do yards everyday after I get out.

Mike Fronczak
06-04-2011, 08:52 AM
My story...things change.
I started in the early 90's with 21" mowers, & my Toyota truck. Bought a 4x8 trailer, etc. Aquired more equipment, for larger accounts. I look at my shop now beside my home & think what the $^ck happened, I have a 36 x 80 shop, the equipment won't all fit in, loaders dump truck, etc. The difference is now, durring the summer its me & one or two part-time guys, in the winter I have about 10 part time guys & another 10 or so sub-contractors pushing snow.
The economy crashing really took its toll on the lawn & landscape side of things for me. I lost accounts I'd had for 5 or more years to guys comining in 25% less, it cost me more to do the work than they are charging. We have guys every year that will do lawns for $ 15 a cut. I still have a good portion of my clients from when I started, they are getting up there in age, as they move, etc. I'm not replacing them...I could I get calls constantly but truth is there isn't any money in mowing here.
I have Bobcats from the snow work we do, bought a small excavator this year & will transition out of maintanence work slowly. The large snow equipment has a long life expancy so in the long run I'll be better off.
On a personal side, when I started I was single, living at home with Mom. Now married with a wfe & 4 kids, it takes its toll on your family life because you can't make plans, etc. Especially with the snow work I do, its a 52 week a year "on call" thing, I had one lawn clients get snoty with me this year because I told him I wasn't working weekends this season, it wears on you. I'm very fortunate I have a great wife, who has a good job, carries the medical through her work, has pretty much any overtime she wants to work @ 1+1/2 or 2x pay, etc. At the same time she wants to be able to say were going on vacation from this date to this date....not if it doesn't rain or snow we can go, see me at kids soccer games, we have a boat that rarely gets used.
For me the money I make for dealing with the grass cutting isn't worth it anymore to me, I have already came to that coclusion. The issues I have are I have to budget better to get through the summer (biggest one), the winter growth we have experienced cost a good deal of money (payments for 2 more years) & after 15 + years I feel bad telling clients to look elsewhere for someone to cut there grass. I will still have a couple small plazas to do as we plow them, but I can find a sub to mow them as needed (only take about 2 hours for both). Its not like I will have nothing to do in the summer between washing & cleaning of snow equipment (which gets neglected currently & rust haunts me later), snow bidding (I have already bid over 100K for next season), excavating jobs, other misc. work, I'll still be busy.

Classic Cuts Lawn Service
06-09-2011, 09:14 AM
I am glad I stumbled across this site. I have read a lot of good information, but I have also read a lot of comments that lead me to believe every person here started their business with a $8000+ mower, top of the line hand helds, new trucks and trailers.

I am coming up on my 1yr anniversary. I mow with a 42" Toro Timecutter, and a 21" MTD Yard Machine push mower. I tow it on a trailer that I got a deal on and I trim with an Echo SRM 230. I currently have 11 clients and I still work my full time job at Home Depot. I am sure some of you started with the capital to purchase great equipment or inherited your business but I am also sure many of you did not. So just for S & G what did you start with?

2 toro 21" homeowner push mowers
a trimmer
a blower

LHS Lawns
06-09-2011, 03:02 PM
Started out 13 years ago with a 11 hp rear engine Snapper, two boards and a '86 Ford F-150. My first lawn was small commercial and the owner said I didn't charge enough and doubled it. Property has changed hands three times and I'm still there. Now have 3 commercial mowers, 2 trailers, 2 trucks, 37 hp tractor with attachments, various handhelds and a workshed. Little bit at a time. Keep a low overhead. Long term customers. Not in use but I still have the Snapper, boards, and truck.

cpllawncare
06-09-2011, 03:39 PM
I started out in 08 while I was looking for a job after being laid off. I just had bought a new ranger before being laid off (thanks corporate America) After a year of job hunting I had managed to get three commercial accounts and various one time shots. It finally dawned on me that I wasn't going to be able to get a regular job, the job market here is the second worst in the country besides Mich. So I took some money and paid off my truck and bought a trailer, a toro rider (not ZTR) and a push mower. already had a blower and trimmer. Started working from there. I've since bought a new Grandstand and a stihl backpack blower, I know have 10 accounts (No where near enough) but I work other part time jobs when I can to fill in. I have a really good sub that I can give big jobs to and still get a commision on, it allows me to bid on bigger projects. It's still a struggle, but I just keep going every day and am thankful for what I DO have. I've lost hope in relying on Corporate America for anything other than being A major PITA, I know I'm jaded in that sense but It's just how I feel.