so much mixed advice... what do you think?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Stroker, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. Stroker

    Stroker LawnSite Member
    Posts: 92

    I posted my story in the Just Getting Started section... Im thinking of going into business for myself. I have ALOT of heavy equipment operating experience. However the type of work I was doing for BIG contractors is different than what I would be doing in a smaller scale in business for myself. I have all the confidence in the world in my operating skill. But going from an operator used to being on a big highway job or grading for a shopping mall to much smaller scale residential work which I am in no way familiar with will be a big change.

    Up until yesterday. I thought purchasing something like a Kubota L48 and a single axle dump going after backhoe/loader, bush hogging, debris removal, ect.. was a good start. But after talking to a couple of construction friends yesterday, they say I would be wasting my time and would be better to focus my startup money towards a mini excavator like a CAT 304 and a Skid Steer to dig footings, ect...

    I know different parts of the country might have a greater demand for certain types of work. But my question is, if you were just starting up. What equipment would you buy and what kind of jobs would you go after?

  2. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Posts: 1,891

    It seems like you have your head screwed on right... that's a relief, seeing some of the companies around the area I live in... in any case: I wouldn't go immediatly to a 304CR or 304.5. What exactly do you have in mind? Do you want to begin with footings and heavier excavation, or is your plan a bit more gradual? Drivers license considerations are also important here. What work you ultimately decide to take on decides the equipment -- not necessarily what people say. I'm personally a SSL+miniex guy, but that certainly is NOT always the most effective or easiest way. So... what jobs do you have in mind? Or what interests you?
  3. Stroker

    Stroker LawnSite Member
    Posts: 92

    Thanks for the reply Bobcat... I think my real problem is I don't know what kind of jobs I should go for. Ofcourse, the types of jobs I would specialize in will dictate what equipment I purchase. But as far as size of the equipment, I thinking nothing bigger than what could be pulled behind an F-650 size single axle dump. Ive done much more grading and clearing type work than anything else. Ive dug for some utility installs, mostly jobs where we had to bury conduit prior to finish grading. Have never done footings ect.. since all my experience was working for large contractors grading for highways, office parks, and shopping malls.

    I have the drive to get something started and Im confident in my skills as an operator and a business man. But the more people I ask for advice, the more different answers I get as to what the demand is out there. Just today a friend of mine reccomended I get certified for septic tank installs. While another insisted I could do well JUST digging footings and site clean up.....
  4. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Posts: 1,891

    Gotcha. I'll let some of the guys with some actual experience jump in... me just throwing out ideas won't help in the long run.

    Best of luck... if I can do anything, let me know.
  5. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    I would first decide do you want too do work for the property owners or from contractors(commercial work).
    If you decide too do commercial work you can get by with just doing footings as you will have the oppurtunities that multiple sales outlets present ,but at a reduced profit.
    If you decide too build your buisness around more homeowner work and bypass the supcontractor work then a Skid Steer is very versatle.
    Good units start at 30k plus and expect to spend another 20 k in accessories.
    I do not have the experience you do and all my work is done with a Tractor.
    I however want too expand and am asking myself the same questions you are asking yourself.
    I have settled on a Tracked Skid Steer .I will pick up some additional builder work and I do alot of land clearing were less than 8 inch trees are present.The skid steer will speed the process up and increase profit.

    If you do septics you will need a 36 inch bucket to make it easy.That limits most Mini Excavotors and gets you in a big unit.
    A backhoe is nice but a pain too dig footings with in a tight spot.
    I have a Kubota L 3710 HST with a Harley Rake and it is wonderful on small too med size jobs.It is 4 wheel drive and has a loader .It is awesome for Bush hogging but if you want to bush hog large areas 3 plus acres you need a bigger tractor.

    This is the key.Never buy a peice of equipment that will lock you into a certain direction.
    A small buisness must be versatile and be able too adapt too the ever changing supply of work.
    Tractors and Skid Steers allow the most potential for a wider range of jobs.

    Good luck and keep us informed.
  6. greywynd

    greywynd LawnSite Member
    Posts: 132

    I think a lot of people have given you good advice, I'm kind of in a similar situation to yours, just farther along. It sounds like you've decided on the size of equipment you want to have, just not what in particular, because you're not sure yet of the work available in your area, or what you might like to do. In my case, since I do this part time, I've specialized a bit, I have a small miniex, an F350 with dump, and a heavy duty tandem trailer (12000 Gross). I do a lot of jobs that range anywhere from an hour to a couple days. I can react quickly when someone calls, and they rarely shop around.
    Usually I'm called because the alternative is a shovel, and they are more than willing to pay what I ask because of it. When I get into bigger jobs, or need something that requires a different piece of equipment, I'll rent something. Currently I'll rent a skid steer for a couple days about once a month, and have 3 or 4 small jobs for it all lined up and do them at the same time, having the truck and float, I can go from job to job. I'd like to have a skid steer, but renting allows me to have the versatility of picking the right machine for the job. It also allows me to try different machines, to see if I would prefer one over another when I do get to the point of justifying a purchase.
  7. Stroker

    Stroker LawnSite Member
    Posts: 92

    Thanks for the reply's. I feel as if Im definatly getting a clearer idea of what direction I want to go in. I think I would like to atleast start out my business with offering more property owner type services, instead of getting too specialized and hooked up with contractors right from the start. Since I can continue working my current job when needed to pay the bills, I can take a chance in marketing my business and trying to build my own customer base.

    It sounds like this is what you guys are doing. In your experiences, what services do you find are requested the most?

    Thanks again
  8. Mini man

    Mini man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 241

    Greywynd....I am in Gananoque ont., can you tell me what type of mini-ex you have and what hourly rate you charge?
    I have a Cat 303.5
  9. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    I think the best way to approach your idea is decide what part of your local market you want to enter. Once you know what you want to do you can buy equipment that allows you to accomplish your goal. Buying equipment and then finding work for it is a bad idea. A little home work upfront can save you money and save you headaches later. I would talk to excavators/landscapers you know and find what kind of work they typically sub out or don't want to do. If you study how those in your local market are equipped, you can see the gaps that allow you an "in". A big key is to stay diversified. We do a lot hardscape landscaping (lawn prep, rock walls, block retaining walls ect.) and we do a lot of concrete removal and prep, as well as additions, new home excavation. This allows us to maximize the work year, very important in our climate. It also takes some of the highs and lows of being soley committed to one market.
  10. alldredge_2008

    alldredge_2008 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 60

    You might want to consider doing miscellaneous skid steer and mini excavator work, such as backfilling house, final grading, lawn seeding, and installing rip rap rock for waterways, i have done that with a skid steer and a mini ex. Also try and bid medium size jobs, for example talk to a home builder who is going to build one or two homes in a row, and rent a excavator for a day when you can get to basements done, and they are right next to each other and you dont have to travel far. Advertise home owners will call to have miscellaeous work done. Also find out what most people in your area are charging for that type of work.

    Good Luck :waving:

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