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  #21  
Old 03-03-2012, 12:13 PM
Potomac Lawns Inc.'s Avatar
Potomac Lawns Inc. Potomac Lawns Inc. is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Southern MD
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Shop looks great. I like the blower storage rack.
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  #22  
Old 03-03-2012, 12:40 PM
jbell36 jbell36 is offline
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Location: KANSAS
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i like it...looks like you have accomplished a lot in little time...how did you grow so fast? how did you start?

...also, just out of curiosity, what exactly are those little trucks for? they just don't seem very useful in my opinion but they obviously are useful for you in your operation...
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  #23  
Old 03-03-2012, 06:59 PM
Gr8WhiteNorth Gr8WhiteNorth is offline
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mini trucks- they have their place. we put more miles on them compared to any other vehicles. They normally don't go out on the highway for two reason 1-they don't have to 2- they aren't made to

growth- i grew the business slowly at first using what i had. (rusted out toyota truck, wheel barrow, lawn mower, shovels) i learned how to do the techical things from the previous owner who was a journeyman landscaper. i took necessary courses and training in landscaping from 3 colleges by correspondence. took a business degree from my local university.
The first major purchase was a 72" zero turn exmark. This landed me a major mowing contract. The contract paid the mower off and my way through school for a couple years.

The next major purchase was a 463 bobcat. I thought that thing was unstoppable back in the day. These two items helped gain efficiency in the jobs I would do. The work was split 50-50 lawn maintenance and landscape construction at that point. Landscape construction jobs were basically small yard renos with plantings and sod.

The two machines were bought with bank debt. The mower was paid for right away, but i took the skidsteer over 3 years.

I soon caught on to doing hardscaping and started with basic installations of walkways and patios. Soon we started building a client list and getting referrals. Three years later I got proper training on the subject and have become a leader in our market since.

Our market size is quite small and there were a couple of major players so things didnt happen over night. I did continual marketing efforts from day one that advertised specific products and services we perform. I look back 10 years later and think I really did things right when I printed up our first brochures from my printer at home. Writing up specific services and then figuring out how to do them more efficiently than our competitors was my goal then and still is marketing and operations.

The next major purchase was buying out assets from a competitor. He was a guy that built up a solid client list for maintenance services that was looking to retire. Along with his lawn equipment, I got some wisdom and the list of customers.

I have always used debt to finance our growth. Dont get me wrong, I would purchase the smaller items with cash. Debt is scary, but its also motivational. I secured a large volume of maintenance contracts for both summer and winter that financed all major expenditures for the construction side since it was more asset-based work.

The snow business allowed me to work full time and obtain more customers that would generate additional revenues once I earned their trust. I remember how brutal it was @ -50*celsius doing 40-50 properties with a shovel, then how unreal it was to do them with a skidsteer with no cab heat. It took 1 winter of that until I got heat installed for $2,800. I thought it was a hugely unecessary expense at the time. lol.

Next major purchase was newer skidsteer. I bought a bobcat s300 that was 3 years old. It had 2 speed transmission and made gave us large production gains. At this point we were up to 5 full time staff and a part time book keeper.

Now that I had my feet wet in snow, I wanted more. I saw painfully small sales in the winter months and knew I had to increase sales over the winter. I bought out another competitor. This company had been for sale for a few years and nobody wanted it. The sales were about $45,000 per year , the assets were a skidsteer, loader, dump truck, and some attachments. They had a pretty good commercial client base for hourly snow work.

I bought it for fair market value of the assets and got the clients for free after some serious negotiating. There were some red faces, but I argued they didn't make enough money to justify paying for the clients. They barely had enough cash at the end of the year to pay themselves. In one year I increased the commercial snow sales by 5x. That business had some very simple problems. They were stuck in a rut following the status quo. Their clients followed a regimine of 4 inch and greater snow clearing. The first thing I changed was to get customers to sign contracts for 1 or 2" service. Some loved it, I lost others. This change alone more than doubled sales for the same customer base.

Well, thats all the time I have for now. Family showed up early for supper. I'll continue asap when Im not so distracted.
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  #24  
Old 03-04-2012, 10:59 AM
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grassman177 grassman177 is offline
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very nice. are those floors vinyl?
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  #25  
Old 03-04-2012, 11:18 AM
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barney14 barney14 is offline
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Location: North GTA, Ontario
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Mini trucks

What can you load on the mini trucks for maint work? A walkbehind or can you get a Z turn on it somehow? Thanks
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  #26  
Old 03-04-2012, 12:31 PM
Gr8WhiteNorth Gr8WhiteNorth is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Manitoba, canada
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Floors are commercial rated laminate.

Minis hae payload of 900 and 1200 lbs in box. They do lawn routes with smallest props using push mowers. Weeding crew, small pruning, and parking lot line painting use them all summer long. They are so handy being low to the ground and having fold down sides with tie downs built in. We also haul small trailer with them. It's got a 2000 lbs gvwr with sides for clippings, paint, equip, etc.

These trucks cover dedicated snow routes in the winter. Shovellers love them because everything in the box is within arms reach. The snow throwers, backpack blowers, shovels, and snow blowers are easy to get in and out of the box. You really don't realize how much time and energy is wasted throwing your equipment in and out of a half ton until you use one of these. The guys come back less fatigued and I'm happy because they cut a route's fuel consumption by half.
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  #27  
Old 03-04-2012, 12:43 PM
Gr8WhiteNorth Gr8WhiteNorth is offline
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Location: Manitoba, canada
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The trucks are 10 ft long and 4 ft wide. Great for getting material between houses. Many man hours wheelbarrowing Plants, soil, crushed rock, wood mulch, etc have been saved with these minis.

You will save garage space as well. I could park 4 of these where my F350 parks in my garage.
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  #28  
Old 03-04-2012, 06:36 PM
lawncare18 lawncare18 is offline
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Location: Syracuse ny
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Nice pics!!! Have any more pics of mowers or trucks??
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  #29  
Old 03-13-2012, 07:04 PM
Gr8WhiteNorth Gr8WhiteNorth is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Manitoba, canada
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More Shop Pics

Here's a couple shots from today. First is of the new shelf system we built. The bottom 8ft section is caged off to help deter any theft. We have people coming and going 24/7 and have noticed things going missing. With the cage system, only those with our common padlock key will have access to power tools, supplies, etc.

The fridge houses welding rods and other humidity sensitive items. I'm downsizing it and getting rid of the smaller compressor for a larger one. The welder will be re-located and a permanent set of stairs will be installed at the end of the catwalk once we get the new air compressor installed. Its on order and we've been waiting forever. I guess it takes time for everything now that its made in China.

It sucks that it had to come to that, but our safety program required us to have a lockout area anyway and we were building a platform to access the top shelves so it seemed logical.

The last couple shots were the fountain setups in the front reception area.
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  #30  
Old 03-13-2012, 07:17 PM
Gr8WhiteNorth Gr8WhiteNorth is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Manitoba, canada
Posts: 253
Newest Machine

I've been looking for one of these for 3 years and finally got one at a fair price. This machine has an 80 hp diesel motor, dump trailer, power lift jack, hydraulic chute control, etc etc etc.

Parents lock up your small children and family pets. ha ha

My plan is to haul this around with a single axle dump trucks after crews are done with the spring or fall clean up. We are also going to advertise curbside pickup to generate more sales.

Our current setup for doing spring cleanups is two crews or 3 hitting each site because we need 4-6 people to lift up the clippings/leaves into the back of pickup trucks. Sometimes the crews would have to dump a pickup and trailer 8 or 9 times a day.

With this new setup we should be able to run two-three crews on their own sites with their own routes and this machine + dump truck will follow behind picking up debris from all crews.

Sounds pretty good in theory, but I'll know soon enough. It looks like spring will hit about a month early this year in Manitoba.

And before I forget, does anyone have any high-resolution photos of a machine similar to mine doing curbside leaf pickup? I'm not happy with the artwork our sign company has produced....

Let me know
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