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The mid winter update

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Scag48, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    Hey everyone. Just thought I'd throw in a little update as to where I'm at these days. As some of you know, I've been back at college since fall quarter after I left home. The sale of our 312 and 277 was about all I could mentally handle, even if I wasn't going to school fall quarter I had to get out of my home town and back to my apartment 160 miles from my home town. At this point, after I finish this quarter, I'm about 2 quarters away from getting my Associate Arts in Business Administration. My whole plan was to transfer to a 4 year school and get a 4 year degree, my parents are still pushing me to go this route. I, however, don't feel I really want to be in school for another 2 years. I agree that in the long run the 4 year degree would put me better off if something was to ever happen to me and I was forced to get an office job, but truth of the matter is that I'll be back to working in the dirt once I'm finished with school, 4 year degree or not, I just love it too much. I'm not the perfect student, I just don't want that 4 year degree badly enough to be studying 6-7 hours a day, that's just not my scene. Truth of it is, I just don't think I can make it through another 2 years, I'd proably fail out. I hate studying and I'd rather be working and doing something productive, I get absolutely no sense of accomplishment by finishing assignments like some folk do. That and my restaurant job is killing me, I dislike it, yet I'm picking up more shifts and working 40+ hours a week at a job that I hate just so I can make more money. :drinkup: So who here has a 4 year college degree and puts it to use? I am taking accounting currently, I completely understand how I'd use this everyday in an entrepreneurial situation, but calculus and all that crap, dirt work math isn't that intense.

    My plan at this point is to be done hopefully after summer quarter '07, but trying to get a job going into fall/winter is a little tough in the PNW. I might finish school and keep toughing it out at the restaurant until next spring. Worst case scenario is that I quit the restaurant and try to get a job running a skidder or log loader in the woods until the snow flies, that's a possibility until spring. I have a connection who might be able to get me a chance to speak with a guy who is fairly high up on the chain with a global company called CDM. Their Seattle branch is fairly large and I guess they're always looking for help, they're a huge company. I might try to jump on with them for a few years, I have a lot of learning to do. I would eventually like to be doing development work and the heavy utilities and grading is what I'd like to learn. I need more training on finish grading with a dozer, I would like to try my hand on a grader, and running a scraper would be helpful as well. Eventually I'd like to get back to running my own show, probably start out with a skid steer and mini ex just like my dad and I did and see where things take me.

    Wow, super long, but just a little FYI. haha
  2. cddva

    cddva LawnSite Member
    Posts: 189

    Scag - While I'm not a long time member of this site, I've followed a bit of your "history" on here. I see your real passion lies in running equipment and literally "shaping the world around you", with aspirations of running your own company one day. You strike me as having alot of common sense for your age.

    I'll tell ya a little of my story just for comparison. I worked as a construction laborer for my next door neighbor a couple summers during high school and enjoyed seeing things get built. I went one semester to college on my own money while living at home and just didn't take it seriously. So, after six years in the nuclear navy I went back home and worked as an electrician wiring town houses for $5.25/hr for the summer. At 25 years old I decided it was time to get serious about my future. I enrolled in college and got a degree in Mechanical Engineering, while living at home and paying my way working as a janitor at an elementary school 4 hours every afternoon. It was a long way from the typical college kid scenario. I've worked as a Mechanical Engineer ever since, most of it back in the nuclear power field. The money's been good and there have been alot of accomplishments I've been proud to be a part of. Along the way I've gained alot of respect and admiration for craftsmen; pipe fitters, welders, riggers, electricians, etc. The good ones are underpaid and getting harder to find. But, back to the point, sometimes it takes awhile to figure out what you really want and are willing to sacrifice for. I was always encouraged by my folks to get a college education but I had to do it on my own terms. I do think it gets alot harder to go back to school when your older and have other obligations (family, full time job, etc.). Lately, I don't get the sense of accomplishment from my work that I used to, the industry has changed and its more about politics and less about the actual work (as I see it). Which is why I got interested in equipment and doing some part time work, to get back to playing in the dirt as Gravel Rat would say and feeling a sense of accomplishment at a job well done. It's kind of ironic that at my age I have a goal similar to yours now, running my own grading/ landscaping business and operating the equipment (of course!). There seems to be quite a number of successful self-employed business owner's on here, who I'm guessing probably don't have college degree's. I don't think having a college degree will ever hurt you, but I do think you need to do something that inspires you. Of course most of the successful business owner's here have probably been to the school of hard knock's, which teaches you lessons you don't forget. I've learned enough already as a part timer to see it's not easy, you have to want it and work at it to really make it pay. You just have to weigh things the best you can as far as your future plans and go with it. Unlike calculus exams, there's no real right or wrong answers in life, just decisions and consequences. You'll figure it out!;)
  3. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,260

    Scag honestly take that 2 year degree or whatever you have and go hit the dirt. Go get a job with a large excavator and work your butt off for a couple of years. There is just so much to learn about excavating. You do not need to learn everything, since you could always hire a guy thats good at laying pipe or laser grading etc.

    Your going to need a ton of money saved up to go into business. If i was you i'd get to work and start saving. Maybe even keep your restraunt job also and work there on the weekends. The more money you have the better.
  4. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    Talked to my mom this morning, I've decided that being 100% honest with my parents is pretty much the best policy. I told her that I just can't handle another 2 years of school and she sounded fairly disappointed. I'll be going back home this weekend for the first time in 4 months, probably gonna catch some flak from my dad, but at this point life is just beating me down. I don't enjoy school enough to keep putting myself through a BS restaurant job for the next 2 years and academics wise I'm sure I wouldn't make it. Until I WANT to go back to school, I'm gonna finish my 2 year degree and be done with it.

    If I can get going on my own by the time I'm 25, I'd be happy. Like I said, I want more experience in heavy utilities and development work. I already know quite a bit, I've been doing some sort of excavation on various levels for the better part of 4 years, projects and complexity have grown through the years and I've grown with them. The school of hard knocks has taught me a lot so far, but I realize I have a long way to go. With that said, I could still handle residential excavation and the business we HAD going on was about my skill level, residential excavation doesn't scare me away at all. Footings, utilities, basements, driveways, whatever, I could handle just about all of it at this point. It's dealing with large pipe and subdivision work that shakes my confidence. As long as I don't have to bus tables in a restaurant 35+ hours a week, go to school full time, and try to maintain some sort of social standing I think just about any job working in the dirt is fine with me.
  5. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    cddva makes great points the last sentence I think is very correct " You just have to weigh things the best you can as far as your future plans and go with it. Unlike calculus exams, there's no real right or wrong answers in life, just decisions and consequences. You'll figure it out!" Could not be more spot on.

    Another option could be Navy Sea Bees if you are so inclined. I spent 8 years in the Marine Corps and it was the best life decision I made. I never touched a piece of earth moving equipment but like the ad says "the change is forever". The Sea Bees can give you heavy equipment experience and a host of other benefits. The college fund will also pay for OJT in actual professions not just college. The disipline and worldly experience you gain are priceless. It can be a sense of accomplishment that is difficult if not impossible to compare with. The experience can install many attractive qualities that will come in handy when applying for jobs or running your own business. As with anything you get out of it what you put into it.

    Another option may be a construction management major. I am certain that Boise State offers such a program. You may do better in a field that you are actually interested in. Such a field, may be inline with your plans for the future and if pursued fully the pay is good.

    I would only say this. If you decide to leave college and pursue a job with an excavation company, realize that you will most likely not go back to school. At this point you can support yourself on side line jobs and attend school. Once you start working full time your in the suck with the rest of the working world and school never becomes a realistic option for most people. If you decide that you have the education you need to accomplish your goals (whatever they maybe) then the decision is made. The consequence of that is if you are mistaken, getting more education is not as convienient as it is now. I also believe there is an operators course in Wa. or Or. that gives you instruction on many pieces of equipment. That would certainly help get you the seat faster with a large construction company.

    You have a life time to work for a construction company and work toward your own company. The time window to do other things is relatively short. It is hard to see from where your at right now, but you don't want to look back 5-10 years from now wishing you would have taken more advantage of the options that you have now.
  6. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,799

  7. Construct'O

    Construct'O LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Sw Iowa
    Posts: 1,387

    Everyone has a story to tell,so here is some of mine.I was in the Army.Got drafted.Hated every moment of it,but i did learn from it.One to get you a$$ out of bed in the morning and too take orders.No,an, buts,or or's!!!!!!!

    Has carried over into my whole life,and business.My brother got me hired on construction running all the junk equipment that no one else would run(i said run not operate) most people can run a piece of machinery ,but not everyone makes operaters.

    As far as college,which i don't have,is that the first 2 years are mostly boring ,because your not really getting into your major,just taking the basics like English and etc.Isn't usually the last 2 years where you get into more of what your going to major in.Then it should get more involved and interesting.By the way have you even picked out your major????????

    Something that is hard to do because of your thoughts change,but if your thinking excavating it should have something to do with it i would think.Right!

    I think book smarts is great,but too me gods gift of common sense will get you through a lot of the problems that will come a long,plus the expereinece you learn from every mistake you make along the way.Learn by your mistakes !!!!!!!! Everyone makes them ,just try not to do it twice!at least in a row.

    Somethings happens that we haven't any control over.I started with the rent to own!!!!!!!! I rented a dozer with the first months rent coming from the saleman loaning it to me.Rented a year at which time i had to let it go back or buy it.I had a big investment in the machine ,both in money and time.I took a year out of my life to either make it on my own or go back to working for someone else.32 years down the road i still want to run my machines.

    No ! college isn't a necessity,but it sure woulding hurt.Your working on your first thirty years wondering what you want to do.I'm working on my last 30 years wishing i could keep on going and doing what i love too do.Good Luck!!!!!!!!
  8. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    My plan was to go into business administration, a fairly well rounded field. Problem is, I just can't get excited about it. I've tried, but there is absolutely nothing that motivates me to keep going. If I had to get this degree to go to work in the dirt field, you can bet your bottom dollar I would be doing my absolute best to do well so that I could get back into running iron. Truth of the matter is that I don't need this degree to get where I'm going, it might make some aspects a little easier, sure, but for the most part I don't need the degree to run the business. To date, I have lost all motivation to keep going with school, aside from finishing up my 2 year degree. I do realize that once I stop going to school it will be hard to go back if I decide I want to, but I'm pretty sure I won't be married any time soon and have a family to support and if all I had to do was bail on a job and go back to school, I guess that's the worst case scenario.

    I appreciate the advice guys. After sitting here and doing a little reading, maybe my parent's plan for me isn't the right one? My issue at this point is that I really don't want to relocate at ALL. I have a nice place here in the Seattle area that my dad owns (yeah, I still pay $450 a month for rent) and I'd really prefer to not uproot myself again. I guess if I found the right program locally, going to school for another 2 years wouldn't be so bad, but I still don't want to do it. I was kind of against those equipment operation schools, but it might be worth looking into. They're pretty short, do most of the written work at home and then you go down for a couple weeks for the on-site training. Maybe that would be more for me.
  9. tnmtn

    tnmtn LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NE Tn.
    Posts: 1,019

    i don't mean too tell you what to do but will add my 2 cents. since joining this forum i have been impressed with your knowledge and honesty on diffrent matters relating to dirt work. you know equipment and what it is for and have the desire to learn the rest. as well you have gotten a few leasons that will help in the long run. bussiness degree may be nice but i would look along the lines of a civil engineering or construction management degree. if we look at what new developments are on the horizon for equipment we see technology. whether it is laser grading or software for figuring take offs. there is a great deal coming down the pike. we see more licensing, tighter areas, more insurance issues. all these things tell me the future operators had better have all t's crossed and i dotted. you are young and some of us are older. what we will get away with the short time we have left may not apply down the road. also you wouldn't be the first person to get a little disillusioned, change majors, find new life and graduate. maybe the timetable should be adjusted. would it be possible to get a job at a dealer during the day and take classes at night. maybe slow the pace. that would cure the restaraunt job. or work in the field. it may take longer to graduate but you still get there.
    i am a merchant marine officer. some of the military guys will understand when i say i am a hawsepiper. i became an officer through the school of hard knocks. we have all seen the collge boys/academyboys when they first come on a job. usually they are a laughing stock. but a few of them stick with it and get the practical experiance to match their book knowledge. these guys become the total package. much more likely to be successful.
    i hope i haven't overstepped to try to give advice to someone i haven't shook hands with. with your knowledge and desire the total package is attainable, just takes perserverance.
    good luck with your decision.
  10. 2004F550

    2004F550 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 270

    I am majoring in construction management and honestly its the only reason that I keep going to college every semester. I love my major and I know I will use it everyday after I graduate. It's unbelieveable what these programs can do for you. My family has a good business but I don't want to ever have to worry about a job if things didn't work out. This degree will give me that security and it is a major that I am passionate about, even though I hate the Calc, Chem. and all the other crap I know it will be worth it in the end.

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