View Full Version : 20 years in irrigation and now starting over :(

08-25-2004, 01:00 PM
Well.....20 years ago when I was 16 I started out in this business at a golf course...repair tech for the golf course and common areas....4 years later, Asst Golf Course Superintendent and Irrigation Foreman....than on to a supplier as a branch store manager and 1994 started my company in Arizona.....

Now fast forward to 2004 and I am starting over again.

irrigation systems in Colorado are poly...I am a pvc guy coming from Arizona...went to supply house here in Colorado yesterday and stocked my van to be ready to start here......ugh. A new learning curve! I was humbled..to say the least.

I am sure I will figure it out....soon as I have a job to go do. Relabeling the van today with the local phone #....business cards should be ready soon....now I have to prove to myself that I can find work. I haven't had to look for work in 5 years! The phone rings off the hook...there it goes now..hang on.....see what i mean? Anyway...now I need to get the Colorado phone ringing.

So....you can teach an old dog new tricks...just have to want to learn the tricks I suppose.....

Wish me luck,

08-25-2004, 01:20 PM
Well Tony, as you can see I am in the office not doing a damn thing today. With repairs and service in our area it is much more seasonal as you're used to.

The previous 2/3 years was still busy in August and September due to the drought. Many people just wanted their systems checked and make adjustments necessary for good coverage for the 2 days a week they could water. Now this year I have many customers that have not watered in the last month due to rain and cool temps. Heck last week we had one day where the high was 55.

But this weather was typical years ago before the drought. And before I had employees it wasn't an issue. I enjoyed time off in late July/ Aug/ Sept when things slowed down. But now I am trying to keep my one service tech busy, but he also likes time off as well - hiking golf, biking, etc. But in the spring I could use 3 more techs as we can't keep up. Same with October 15 - Nov 15 with winterizations.

Now if I wanted to do installs I could keep alittle more busy, but I hate installs. Even selling new jobs I hate. People here are very price oriented on new systems. Turned one away yesterday to another friend in the biz.

I thought of getting out of the biz in 2002 due to the way the drought affected my business that year. I was stressed bad. But I realized 2 things: 1, this is what I know. I have done irrigation since '91 or '92. 2, there are way too many people in this area without good jobs right now. Example: my girlfriend has a BA, over half way to her MBA, passed the test to get realtor's license, and still can't get a job. Hardly even an interview. So I stuck with what I know.

You'll end up doing just fine. Especially since you're looking at parttime. Not having full days of repairs. This year will be tough due to trying to start at the slowest time of year, and continued rain. But next year you'll be ok. You know I'll send you work when I can't get to it.

08-25-2004, 01:24 PM
i know...too bad about that staying at home and doing nothing thing! Been there done that.

I haven't decided yet if I will do installs or not....think I might do a select few...which means I will bid jobs to either get them or not get them, if you know what i mean.

Thank goodness I don't need the work that bad eh? I would like to do some though....getting fat and lazy sitting in the office the last 5 years or so :)

There are realtors looking to hire great people in WP! Long drive eh?

08-27-2004, 01:48 AM
Welcome to The Springs. I have lived here for the last seven years and been in business for 5+ yrs. The city is growing and as you know in a dry climate you need to irrigate. You should have no problem building a business but remember it freezes here so you will have to blow out systems in the fall and restart them up in the spring. You can charge $50 for each of these services.

As for Poly pipe it is easy to work with once you do it a few times. Make sure you heat your pipe before inserting fittings and use quick crimp clamps. If you ever have to do a long run of a water line that will be under pressure its better to use PVC due to poly will leak where ever there is a clamp when under pressure.

Good luck,

John:) :) :) :)

08-27-2004, 10:29 AM
Interesting....I said I was starting over not necessarily today...I guess you have missed out on all the dialogue the last 2.5 years....I have been in colorado for awhile.

As for heating the pipe...I have heard that isn't the best thing for the molecular structure of the poly? could be wrong I suppose.

Thanks for the tips hagemanj....:)

08-27-2004, 10:51 AM
Don't heat it. It may split at the area you heated it. I've seen it many times. But I have also done it once in a great while. Only on some tight repairs. Heating it will make it easier, and less pain on your hands (my wrists, knuckles and hands have had problems for years). But then you run the chance or weakening the pipe, waste propane/mapp gas, need to carry the torch around with you, etc. Never found it to beneficial.

But I know a few people who do it like that all the time. And I've fixed some of their splits. :D

08-31-2004, 12:33 AM
always heat poly pipe...funny pipe too.


08-31-2004, 01:01 AM

Why would you always heat poly and funny pipe? I can see it if it is colder than 50 degrees but anything over that, and the fittings will 'bite' properly.

What do you use to heat them with? We used the exhaust pipe to soften 1" flexible PVC so we could cement it into the fittings. I finally told the president of the athletic booster club that if it was that damn cold we didn't need to be putting sprinklers in the ground anyway.


08-31-2004, 10:06 AM
All the contractors I know heat pipe.

AGain, you just add about 3 seconds of heat to help assist in inserting.

DO NOT heat it to the point where it almost starts to melt. Thats when you end up with the weak compounds of the plastic.

Also always store your rolls of poly outdoors. The heat from the sun keeps the poly also soft and makes it easier for plowing and fittings

08-31-2004, 12:08 PM
I still say heat your pipe. Just like aquamtic said for about 3 seconds. Not until it is melted. If it does weaken the pipe I haven't seen any of my repairs needing to be replaced. I have been in business since 99 and I have kept the same customers. Maybe it takes longer than 5 yrs for the pipe to weaken enough to split or break but what customer will ever remember you did a repair where it broke. This is my thought.


08-31-2004, 01:33 PM
and I have kept the same customers. Maybe it takes longer than 5 yrs for the pipe to weaken enough to split or break but what customer will ever remember you did a repair where it broke. This is my thought.

hmm...i guess you are right.....i would probably remember though....and I guess 5 years is a long time.

I have just heard conflicting reports....by heat I didn't mean heat til melting...I just meant heat it just enough to get in easier to work with.

Wonder what HB Fox will say?

Now I just have to wait for my phone to ring!

08-31-2004, 07:43 PM
Just wondering if the poly fittings are that tough to put on. That seems like a PITA to heat the pipe, turn the torch off, put the fittings in, tighten the clamp, move over a few feet, cut the pipe, get the clamp ready, light the torch, turn off the torch, put the fittings in, tighten the clamp, etc, etc....

Damn I'm glad we use PVC down here. And yes folks they do pull PVC in the ground also.


08-31-2004, 09:19 PM
Here's my two cents. When having problems with an insert fitting with poly I use a little heat. Have tried soap, too messy. A rubber mallet works nicely too.

08-31-2004, 11:55 PM
I gotta believe you can put on a poly fitting faster than PVC... If it's dug where you have enough room it doesn't take more than 30 seconds... I dont know what kind of torch you are thinking about but ours turns on just by pushing the button and off by letting go... we dont heat the pipe for more than a second and a half..