Back to trying to decide Conventional or Hooklift or landscaping

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Gravel Rat, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    I have been doing some searching and asking the local community members about me expanding my business a little more and going into a 1.5-2 ton container truck. They figure the area isn't going to slow down construction wise right now we are just in a little bit of a slow period now.

    In the next 10 years there will be 140 houses just built in my area the next community there is projected 600 houses that we know about. There is talk about a couple more developments putting in another 300 or more houses.

    One of the persons I talked to says sometimes you have to take the risk and buy something if it don't work out sell it. Its making me think well maybe I should try it.

    There are 2 companies not in this area that have 40 yard bins but most of these new sites can't fit a 40 yard bin or let alone getting a tandem axle rolloff with a 40 yard bin into.

    Anyhow to the question I know some of you guys use hooklift trucks and are they really worth it ?

    I have been reading the literature about hooklifts etc they do have their benefits.

    Some things that concern me is price I haven't got a firm price but I'am looking at 15,000 just for a 9000lb capacity hoist (ouch).

    The weight of a hooklift system a dual pivot system weighs 1500lbs or so plus the weight of the box so add another 1500lbs approx. There is 3000lbs before any payload is added. I want a dual pivot system as I want the dump angle a single pivot system doesn't have the dump angle. With the added weight a F-450 will be border line for any payload capacity.

    I was looking over the Switch and Go website I don't plan on buying one of those. It got me thinking of building my own conventional rail system similar to the switch and go but the rail tails will touch the ground. The Switch and Go is simple construction it uses a standard scissor hoist and a electric winch.

    Okay drawback if I build my own hoist I will have to build my own boxes nobody really manufactures 6 yard conventional rail boxes. There are hooklift boxes out there as they seem to be more common with smaller operations. There is allot of work building bins even if I got my brother to help me it would be about 3000 dollars a bin cost wise.

    I still can buy a 06 F-550 4x4 with a Multilift on it for 65,000 CND thats with no boxes. Its still at one of the dealers I'am looking at. It is allot of money and I can't figure out why its being sold already. Its says its barely been used so either the hooklift system wasn't good enough or there wasn't enough work. Its not in my area but on Van Island, maybe the guy that had the truck tried what I want and it didn't work out.

    If these developments go through there will be debris to haul away and landscaping materials to haul in. The one development closest to where I live is going to take tons of landscaping.

    The benefit of having a rolloff truck is ease of loading and I can do more than one job a day.

    To make the service work is I'am going to do the labour loading the box. I think its why the one disposal company in my area that has a 1.5 ton hooklift doesn't do very well with the truck is he doesn't do any loading. He just dumps the box off and the customer has to load it. Well with basement clean outs usually the old people over 65 don't want to be doing the strenous work carring junk to the box. On construction sites building contractors don't have the time to pick up the debris on the site.

    My last option is go with a standard dump its the cheapest option (5000 dollars) and I mainly focus on doing the landscaping side and haul trash. I also have access to a 2000lb capacity Hiab that my dad has that could be mounted on the truck infront of the box for lifting the heavy stuff onto the truck.

    I'am still not sure if there will be enough profit to pay for a 2 ton rolloff truck and containers probably a 70,000 dollar investment. For that kind of money I can buy a decent used tandem axle rolloff and find some used 40 yard bins. Atleast with a tandem axle rolloff you can run a low side box and use the truck as a dump truck hauling dirt.

    What do you guys think is it worth investing up to 70,000 on a F-550 container truck or should I go into the mini excavating business. If these developments go through there won't be enough contractors with smaller equipment to-do the landscaping work.
  2. 2004F550

    2004F550 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    Look at the conventional roll off system from dell mfg in Canada, it seems to be more heavy duty than the switch and go. I don't have much experience with hooklift, just our rolloff and it works well for dirt hauling too, jack of all trades kind of thing but a master of none, never gonna be as good as a real triaxle. But thats my .02
  3. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    I'am pretty well laid off from my part time gov't job so now its time for me to work on getting my own business running. Construction works all year round no stopping for winter because we never get enough snow or cold weather to worry about just days and days of rain.

    Right now we seem to be having a little lull in the house construction it seems like nobody is spending any money right now. I have been told it might pick up or it might not. I have been hearing stories that in the US there has been a housing boom and now its gone bust and the bank is repo'ing houses from people that went beyond their financial capability. Our little boom in this area started in late 2003 its been clipping along pretty good untill now its like somebody turned off the gas and the car is sputtering.

    So if the similar thing happens here as what I have been hearing about in the US I may have to re-think about spending 70-80 thousand on a 6 yard container business.

    Total junk removal companies in the whole area (population 23,000) like me with 1 ton trucks probably 4 at the most companies that run 40 yard container trucks 3. No other contractor really hasn't started a mini bin service the one other junk removal guy I know can't make a living off of junk removal. Is there a reason I don't know about that any bin service smaller than 40 yards is un-profitable.

    When I talk to my dad he says what in the h*ll do you want to haul garbage for just stick with hauling dirt. Maybe I will make more money doing landscaping again and doing mainly hardscape work. In previous years there really wasn't much hardscaping work as the new house construction was very slow. There is landscape maintenance but I gave that up got tired of mowing lawns and pulling weeds :laugh:

    Is there more money to be made with a skid steer or a mini excavator. For 80 grand a person could buy almost new 12,000lb mini or a used mini and a decent F-550 dump.

    I did some more pricing on a hooklift and I'am looking at 15,000 dollars just for the hoist. For me to build my own conventional rail hoist would be about 6 to 8 thousand. It would be nice to have the option of dropping a box on the ground and load it but for 15 grand just for a hoist its prolly not worth it.
  4. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,168

    That sounds like a losing idea to me. Too much investment for too little return. Plus you load the box? No thanks, that could turn into a nightmare. I would think there are better returns up there for that kind of money. Akso you would have to change your signiture to big boys hauling people's trash. There is no ring to it.
  5. SLSNursery

    SLSNursery LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    A few months ago (I think I posted this in a similar topic) we ordered a long wheelbase 4x4 F-550 chassis. My original intention was to put the Stellar hook that we have on an Isuzu NQR onto the new truck. We've since decided to get a new Stellar hook so that we have two in operation. It is not as easy to track profitability as directly related to the hook, but the versatility is endless. That is, the triaxle bills out more easily on straight hours, but can't do most of the tasks that the hook performs.

    The hook and containers work well for conventional dumping and pickups. A good hook can get a 54 degree dump angle, which is key, versus some of the less steep models. In addition, we move a lot of our own equipment and some machines (including mini excavators) for customers with the containers. This is very handy, and eliminates a trailer - which helps when you need to justify the costs. We also have a 10 wheel conventional roll-off (cable style). Containers ARE made, and readily available in a double pick format that switch between the little hook and the regular roll-off. The big cans (10-20-30+) can go between the conventional roll off and a big hook (60" bail height). This helps when you deliver a can with the small truck expecting to pick up 3-5 yards of material, and you end up pulling out 10 yards. The big truck can come and scoop it right up without being overloaded.

    As far as the dump and trash hauling goes, I will tell you that we don't do very much of it even though we own the trucks and containers. Maybe that will change, but the business model is different. What I mean, is that in our world - landscaping, excavating, the work and time frame is immediate. An empty can is filled up almost immediately (or at least the same day) on dig outs or clean ups. There is not delay. In the trash business, unless you are doing the clean out, the cans tend to sit for a couple of weeks. Furthermore, we try to charge trucking, plus dump charges, and a nominal can rental charge. We are not always competitive as a result, and would not rely on this model to finance a purchase.

    One of my tenants has a switch and go on a 550 and truthfully it works pretty well. It is definitely not as heavy as the conventional roll off or the hooklifts. And, unfortunately there is no compatability between the systems so this wouldn't work for me either. I would think that in your case if you didn't need the 4x4, why not pick up a good used mid sized truck, like an International 4900 or a Ford F-750, then put the hook on that. You should be able to put something together for fair money, and with an 80,000 budget still have some coin left for a mini. I will say this, on the negative side, however, that after owning and operating many different truck configurations, sizes, brands and styles, NONE of them really hold any value. Sad, but true.
  6. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794


    I think I've said this before, but you need to decide what you want to do before you start thinking about the equipment for it.
  7. gammon landscaping

    gammon landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 553
    this company just setup a franchise here and i see there trucks all the time. might want ti look at there buesness model and see if this is more of a service you could do. i bet these little cab overs with dumps are no were nere the 80 grand mark
  8. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    I have been doing some more pricing of parts etc man its expensive also been doing some hard thinking is this going to be a viable business.

    The rolloff truck idea was something I thought about to expand the services I provide. The hooklift system does have versatility because you can swap bodies quick. I have run conventional truck quite abit (tandem axle 40 yard bins) its not that quick swapping boxes. I have fought with boxes that wouldn't pull up the rails properly so your doing allot of wiggling and adjusting.

    My original question is the hooklift worth it ?

    For me to buy a hoist and atleast 2 boxes to start with is 21,000 dollars that doesn't include a decent truck to put the hoist on. A decent used F-550 is 25,000 dollars. I would have to really drum up the work to make it pay.

    Well I won't be asking about hooklifts again I promise :laugh:

    After my second go around of seeing if the venture would go, its not the the cost of the truck and a hoist isn't worth it. That F-550 4x4 with the Multilift will be sitting on that dealers lot till the tires rot off the truck. Its been pretty well 6 months or more now. I would buy the F-550 as a cab and chassis but they won't just sell the truck.

    I might end up buying a tandem axle dump I found a few A model Kenworths in the 20,000 range. I have been avoiding the idea of buying a tandem because there is already lots of them out there but when it gets busy there isn't enough trucks to fill the demand. If I had a truck this summer it would have been working almost everyday but I would have had to put a driver on it.
  9. RockSet N' Grade

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

    GravelRat: Since you are entertaining ideas, here is one. IF the housing market continues and IF rules/regs are similiar to your area this is what I saw bust wide open. Developers get the lots ready to build. Sell the lots. It is the developers responsibility to keep the streets clean through the process or there are stiff fines for debris in street, debris and dirt washing down drains. They are motivated by law (penalties are still and enforced) to keep the streets clean.
    One chap I know signed contracts with several developers to keep the streets clean on a per lot basis. Then he went and got a street sweeper. No one was doing this business. Long story short.....within a year, this chap has cornered the market, has 10 machines running full time with long term contracts with most of the developers in this area. It was a niche that needed to be filled. I do not know the ins/outs of his contract, cost of machines, whether they are leased or owned or what......but this guy is laughing all the way to the bank.
    The trash business from my experience.: Money is made buy owning the site. Money is made by hauling for city/municipality contracts. Roll-offs of any type for construction are just a necessary evil and something you have to provide.....and I have never heard anyone say much good about the bottom line on that end of the service.
  10. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    The street sweeping is a good idea but there isn't enough market to make it pay. I know the guy that comes and does the sweeping for the two municipalities he covers a large area. His trucks have vacuums so it sucks up the crap that the brushes loosen up.

    The highways dept does most of the road cleaning its part of their contract to maintain the roads. They have a broom that fits onto one of the plow trucks they also have one that fits on their Cat IT loader.

    As for dirt washing into the drains etc we don't have any laws against it as the developments don't have any underground sewers. The sewage from the houses is plumbed into a main pipe that goes to a massive septic field.

    I slept on my ideas the one thing I should continue with is try find a newer F-450 or go with a F-550 and put a dumping flatdeck or buy a mason box with fold down sides. I know I will still have the construction site clean up jobs I just have to start advertising again. Between that and my other part time job it should get me through the winter.

    I will wait till spring and see if the construction market picks up. The developers have jumped on the realestate bandwagon its kind of gotten carried away with them clearing large chunks of land for housing developments. Like one developement it almost covers 3000 acres or more. The customers to buy these houses and bare 1 to 5 acre lots have dropped off. If things start selling again then work will be happening. Nail pounders and carpenters will be gauranteed work for the next 10 years. Landscapers will be busy too because the more refined developements have lawns to be installed and hardscaping.

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