Starting a small excavating business

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by ASCHAL45, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. ASCHAL45

    ASCHAL45 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 63

    I am wanting to start my own excavating business here in central ky i wont have a lot of competition. I want to start small with maybe a dozer or backhoe with a truck and trailer any help would be helpful thank you
     
  2. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    I have been to E-town to the Compact Excavator Sales place there (IHI). Very pretty area.:cool2:

    I would start by looking at other companies in the excavating business in your area and see what they do, what gaps existing in the services they provide. If there is a lot of dozer work to be done and few dozers, than that would be something to get into. If there is not a lot of dozer work and everyone has one than it may not be the first piece of equipment that I would buy. I know that sounds elemental, but when your starting out buy what you can put to work and make money with immediately. Cash flow is everything, especially when your new. Buying another dozer for example to compete in already cluttered area of excavation is not going to pay you back very fast. After doing a market study of your area, let that tell you what machines you need to compete in your market. Buying machines, than looking for work is backward and tends to cost more money in the long run. IMHO
     
  3. RockSet N' Grade

    RockSet N' Grade LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,454

    I would also add: What particular areas of excavating do you like? One guy I know down here specializes in digging foundations and is set up for just that.....he has it down cold and is hard to compete against. Another guy I know found his niche in pipe work....that's all he does is set pipe. Another guy down here started out "wanting to do it all, anything to do with dirt".....he's broke and now driving a truck.
     
  4. thebobcatkid86

    thebobcatkid86 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    My advice: depending on what size jobs you plan to take on you might consider a skid steer. I run my business with a pickup and a mini-skid (Bobcat 453) and I rent whatever else I need. It works for me because it keeps my rig under the DOT limit so I dont have to worry about any inspections or any of that BS. But a big skid steer is a very versatile peice of equipment. If I had my choice on a residential grading job between a D3 and a big Bobcat, the Bobcat would win just about every time. Most mid to large size skid-steers have the pin height to load a full size tandem axle dump truck. I've done some waterproofing and driveway replacements and I can tell you I wouldnt do either without a skid-steer. But then again it all depends on what type and size of jobs you plan to take on. If you plan on doing commercial size jobs then you're going to need full size equipment and a probably a CDL. Which to me, for now is more of a hassle than its worth. But thats me. It all depends on what you enjoy doing, which should be the determining factor in what you plan to do.
     
  5. dozerman21

    dozerman21 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    ASCHAL45- I pretty much would agree with all of the above, especially the last post (except the part about choosing a big skid over a dozer to grade a yard:) )

    He hit the nail on the head though. I do mostly dozer work, but I think you would be better served starting with a truck and a skid steer or backhoe. They give you more options and make you more versatile. I love dozers, they're great, but that would limit you to a smaller field of work opportunities. I don't know what experience you have, so I'm just going to assume you have little to none. No offense to anyone running a skid or backhoe, but I think it takes more skill to operate a dozer at a high level. It takes years to master any of them, I just think with a dozer, you can grade or you can't. With a backhoe or skid, there are other jobs that you can take on and learn as you go (i.e. hauling trash, carrying/bucketing aggregate, loading dirt, etc...). Jobs that have more margin for error. Again, I think all three take equal amout of skill to master. I run all 3 as my prime machines.
     
  6. thebobcatkid86

    thebobcatkid86 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    I dont want to get nit picky, especially on someone elses thread. I will admit that comment was biased as I have only once ever driven a dozer (a D6 and that was building ATV trails in the woods). You are right that a dozer does take more skill. I have had five years in the seat of a skid steer and like I said only ever really driven a dozer once. I also have over 3 years with excavators mostly of the mini variety but I have run them as large as 11 tons. I just wanted to say that have done several jobs (mostly urban residential) where all I had was a rented Bobcat S175 or 773. I managed to finish grade those yards in a reasonable amount of time to where all it needed was a quick once over with a garden rake to put seed down. I have been trying lately to get some work doing land clearing/residential site prep. because I have found that I enjoy that. But its hard to convince clients that mine is a reasonable bid when I tell them that the equipment rental is $3000 or $4000. I like running bigger machines but at least right now I cant afford them, nor do I want do deal with the hassle of getting and maintaining a Class A CDL anyway. All I own is that 453 which, dont get me wrong is an excellent little machine but I cant pull stumps or dig basements with it.
     
  7. dozerman21

    dozerman21 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    I was just giving you a hard time.:dancing: I was actually referring to a true "rough" grade, where you have to cut swales, generate dirt to fill in a low area, etc. Don't get me wrong though, on many roughs where the yard is in good shape after the backfill, or you have to carry dirt around the house, a skid steer/CTL is faster. That's why I usually carry both with me.

    I bet you had some fun with that D6!
     
  8. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    Getting and maintaining a class A CDL is not that big of a deal. I mean if you don't need one than good for you. I certainly would use it as a reason not to expand. You take a couple of written tests, a driving test and there you are. It renews just like a regular license. The process is no different than when you get your regular noncommerical license.
     
  9. ASCHAL45

    ASCHAL45 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 63

    I appreciate all of your comments i have thought about them alot. Which my original plan was to buy a backhoe and a dump and trailer I already have my cdl so I wont have to worry bout that. I was thinking about strictly doing septic systems at first to get my foot in the door. What do all of you think about that and what kind of backhoe would you recommend be honest dont play favorites.
     
  10. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    Can't beat Case hoes whatsoever. Deere is good too. Heard a couple issues with Cat, but they're so minimal and few and far between that I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Cat. Any of thoes three would be fine, they're all good machines.
     

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