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Tools and Equipment

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by MarcusLndscp, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. MarcusLndscp

    MarcusLndscp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 634

    Here's a topic I haven't heard much about on here.
    We currently have as many as 16 crews running at one time during the landscape season, each of which are supplied with their own locker (or trailer) that is equipped with thousands of dollars of hand tools and small equipment. For example, at the beginning of every season every crew foreman is supplied w/ 4 digging shovels, 3 flat shovels, 3 leaf rakes, 3- 24" steel rakes, 2 - 36" grade rakes, sledge hammers, pick axe, mattocks, pry bars, rock hammers, etc etc. All construction foreman are given a stihl TS400 cut off saw, a transit, etc. As an employee here all you have to do is provide a good pair of underwear and socks, everything down to your pants, gloves, shirts are all paid for. The company provides all of your equipment and other necessities and if something is damaged from wear and tear it is replaced for you. At the end of every season I calculate $$$ of lost equipment per crew. On average each crew loses from $50 - $150 worth of tools. That's not too bad. My question pertains to the guys that year after year lose up to $1000 worth of tools. How do you guys deal w/ these guys and do any of you have different methods of handling the whole tool issue in general? It doesn't seem fair to me that some guys make an effort to keep track of what they are given and some guys don't because they know they will just be given new stuff come spring.
    Let's see where this goes.
    Thanks Mark
  2. cgland

    cgland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,929

    We have incentive programs geared towards minimizing lost or damaged tools. If they come in under the set percentage we give out incentive $ based on how far under they are. The hard part is differentiating damage and wear and tear.

  3. jreiff

    jreiff LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Posts: 402

    We had a guy that forgot a Stihl 420 Backpack blower at a jobsite and did not notice tat it was left behind until the next job site. By the time that he had went back to get it, it was gone. Well that employee ended up buying that blower, or paying for it.
  4. MarcusLndscp

    MarcusLndscp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 634

    So Chris
    The guys who are doing well w/ their equipment get bonuses. What about the guys that don't? Are they just given more tools to replace what they've lost w/ no penalty? Like I said, most of the guys respect the fact that we spend 20-30K a year on small equipment, without bonuses. It's just the guys that don't care that bother us. Is giving the guys that care a bonus incentive enough for the others to do better?
  5. lawnlubber

    lawnlubber LawnSite Member
    Posts: 186

    I would make the base wage of all crew members approximately equal. The crew leaders would have a DAILY bonus available equal to the wage differential they would normally expect. This bonus would be payable when they returned the truck and trailer with everything present, cleaned, lubed etc. Those who consistently take care of their equipment will consistently make more money. Some might replace lost items themselves rather than forgo their bonus. There would inevitably be resistance to a "pay cut". I would point out that it is reasonable to expect more from those who are better paid. When their performance(their care of equipment) warrants it they will earn more money.
  6. cgland

    cgland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,929

    I've found that money, unfortunately, is the best motivator. The guys that consistantly damage the tools will be held responsible. See, it is the crew leaders job to ensure the tools are accounted for and in good condition. If he consistantly falters in this area he will loose his crew leader status and a new guy will get the nod. If the old crew leader has a problem w/ a demotion then he looses his job and the food chain continues. All guys move up and a new apprentice will be hired. It has worked so far and the old crew leader is usually so embarrased that he tries extra hard to get back in good standing.

  7. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    So let me raise another question along these lines:

    How do you keep the tools for the individual crews separated? I assume you mark them somehow (paint?), but do you also keep them on the crew's truck overnight?

    I have yet to work for a company that had accountability for tools. Which is surprising, because all of them (except my current employer) were big enough to need it. I was trying to get some sort of accountability system in place before I was laid off from my last job. For some reason though, the owner of the company didn't want to spend any more money in order to save it though.....:rolleyes:

  8. Ice_Gargoylle

    Ice_Gargoylle LawnSite Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 60

    unfortunetly your problem is one fo the hardest things to teach people in any job. Part of it os remembering all the tools at the end of job, but you have to bring the right tools with you also. Have you ever tried to calculate how much time is wasted going to and from the truck? exactly, tons of time. I think if you try to teach your foremen the "big" picture, it may help out alot. you could also get them crappy replacements to, so they value the nice stuff they lost int he first place:)
  9. MarcusLndscp

    MarcusLndscp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 634

    Yes Dan we mark everything with paint, every crew has it's own color. From there, 12 crews have their own lockers w/ storage racks in our barn/garage and all the other crews have their respective trailers. During landscape season all of our trucks have racks that I built simply out of 2 x 4 pressure treated and 1 1/2" steel pipe (I could give you a pic if interested). Most guys have every tool given to them right on their truck so they are there when needed for a last minute job....it's simply a waste of time to take tools off and on the trucks every day. Another thing that makes life easier is that every guy is designated a truck for the year and that ,99% of the time, doesn't change. The racks that I built also hold all the tools in place so you can carry a full load of materials and dump w/ out taking your tools off the truck which is a time saver.
    I'm not sure I've seen the answer yet for the guys that don't care. Anybody ever try having a set amount of allowable loss say $200. Then after that you pay the remaining balance? So, last week I did the calculations on one guys tools. He lost about $950 so he would have to pay $750 to compensate for the lost tools.
    Here's another question for this thread........
    As far as shovels, rakes, sledge hammers, etc etc...what brand names do you guys use that you really like and are durable?
    My vote for shovels will go to NUPLA....the handles essentially will not break. You'll wear the metal down to the point it's worthless first.
  10. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    If it's a wooden handled shovel, it has GOT to be a double riveted handle. Anything less and it simply won't last. Razorbacks are a good shovel, as are Jacksons, for wooden handles. We've got three Craftsmen shovels (fiberglass) that are 5+ years old. I'm sure we will need to replace them one of these days though.:)

    For spades, King of Spades is the way to go. They've got a 5 year warranty, anything happens, essentially no questions asked. Yes, I've seen one break, and it wasn't being used for edging either.:) Our nursery supplier is carrying a new brand now, similiar to KOS, but they look to be a better spade/shovel. I'll try to get the brand for you.

    Rakes; leaf; whatever is cheap. They don't usually last more than 2 seasons anyway, though a round tine "forest" rake (or two) may be on our list for this year... Steel rakes: Duro rake or a knock-off of one. Forget the old "bow" rakes.

    Sledges need to be a wooden handled sledge. Fiberglass handles will break too, and when they do, they are 1) harder to find, and 2) a MUCH bigger PITA to replace!


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