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Buying new equipment - Give me feedback please.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Prestige-Lawncare, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 753

    The time is getting close to go full time, after 31 years on the old job! Over the winter months I will be making the swing to go full time next spring with my LCO. If things go the way they are looking, I will have about $25,000. from stock options to bank roll my investment in my new equipment, therefore avoiding any payments on equipment while growing my business to a limited customer base (looking to schedule myself to only 4 days a week ... with the 5th day open for extra jobs, catch up, or just a 4 day week) While I will be on the downside of my working career (another 10 years to work at the most) ... my now 16 year old son can be on the upside of his if he so chooses.

    Anyway ... the topic of this discussion is for equipment manufacturers. I've really considered Exmark (3 local dealers - good service) ... but am wondering about others like Scag, Gravely and Dixie Chopper (manufactured just west of me here in Indy) ... or maybe others. Also, what about trimmers and blowers? I've read so much about so many now the numbers are just a blur!

    I'm kinda looking at a WB, maybe a 60" ZTR, a 16' enclosed trailer, and new trimmers and blower.

    Throw me some ideas here guys.


    FIRESCOOBY LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 986

    Well, I'm really a "small time guy" so I don't know how much I can help. I'm a career FF and started a PT lawncare biz this spring. Wanted to for a few years, and finally stepped on out there.

    I made some good and bad choices.

    Didn't go out and buy a new trailer or truck at the beginning. Waited to see how things would go. Used the 5x10 open trailer (still using) and Tacoma I had at the time.

    Bought the cheapest (in my area) commercial mower I could get (see sig). 19hp on a 52" mower is ok most times, but next mower will be max hp offered. Spend the extra money and get a bigger mower.

    I had a Stihl trimmer that's still going strong, but not as good as new. I bought a Stihl KM-110 with edger and hedge trimmer. I've not been happy with it and had some problems with throttle handle and it currently won't stay running without running the throttle up. I also bought a new REDMAX 7001 blower. VERY happy with it, and my next 2 cycle tool will be REDMAX.

    I bought a new Chevy 2500HD about a month ago. Planning on buying a used enclosed trailer before next season. My goal is to expand or "evolve" into renovations/installs/etc in 3 years or so and buy a skid steer or tractor. That was my initial wish, but the initial investment scared me away.

    Good luck with your endeavor. Provide quality work, reliability, and honesty and you'll be fine. I've done the above with my customers and I've been awarded by having many referrals and understanding customers. I had a very close family member that was murdered a little less than 2 months ago. For nearly two weeks I was unable to provide services because dealing with the situation and the emotional toll. I called all my customers and explained the situation and they ALL were very understanding. Most have asked to make sure I would be providing their service next year. Very good feeling when you provide a good job and they are happy with it.
  3. ABeautifulCutAboveInc.

    ABeautifulCutAboveInc. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 118

    I'm just like firescooby, small time. Just started my own business a few months ago. I personnally have redmax equipment and a hustler super mini Z 44". Which has the 23 hp Kawasaki. Very, very pleased on the construction and design of the Hustler. My blower is a EB4401, which I highly reccommend. My trimmer is a BCZ2600. My personnal favorite tool, Which I also highly reccommend. Runs great, no problems, and good on gas. My edger is a HE225F. Now to be honest with you, I'm very displeased with it. I don't reccommend it. It boggs down on me all the time, just doesn't have the power. But, if you go with echo, stihl or any high grade equipment, you'll have good results. Take care and good luck on your adventure.

    FIRESCOOBY LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 986

    One more thing about equipment. Go to each local dealer and demo, demo, demo. If a dealer is hesitant about a demo...leave and go elsewhere. Ask about service, loaners, etc. I bought a Hustler and am very pleased with product. The only dealer that was closer was the Gravely dealer, and I DID NOT like the Gravely at all.

    My dealer provides a loaner anytime the problem cannot be fixed in less than an hour. Also if you schedule service, you can take a loaner while it is being serviced.

    Bottom line: Dealer support goes a LONG WAY!!!
  5. DBL

    DBL LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,219

    buy good equipment that will LAST but for starting to save money i would go with an open trailer that enclosed trailer will eat up wasted money in my opinion and a reliable truck too
  6. J&R Landscaping

    J&R Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,095

    All the mower brands you mentioned are good brands. For that, the deciding factor for me would be who's service dept. is best, who has the largest parts inventory, etc. Any machine can and WILL give you problems at some point so you will need a dealer who can get you up and running immidieatly.

    As far as trimmers and blowers are concerned, ECHO and REDMAX are brands that I personally feel are good all the way around. Shindaiwa is also good. Again, what brands do your dealers sell, which do you prefer, and which does the best dealer seem to give the A+ too?
  7. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 840

    Being that I am a fairly new, but already seasoned LCO (due tot he fact that I have already made several transitions), please allow me to add my .02 cents.

    I am currently running the following and I will explain some pros & cons later.

    John Deere 727 54" Deck-23 HP Kawisaki
    Exmark 36" Metro Walk Behind (Belt Drive) 12.5 hp Kaw
    Stihl FS90 Trimmer
    Stihl FC100 Edger
    Stihl BR600 Blower
    Stihl KM90 w/ Hedger Attachment
    6'x14' Enclosed Haulmark
    94' Ford F-150

    Now for the Pros & Cons:

    I started with my residential equipment, discovered quick that it was not up for the job and I need commercial. I bought the 727 New to avoid early breakdowns and down time, plus dealer support. I got the 54" Deck so taht I have a nice happy medium between small to large residentials and can transistion to commercials with the same equipment.

    Hand Tools, again started with my residential stuff and then upgraded. I finally decided on Stihl due to popularity of this equipment in my area and the dealer support. I have already used this equipment and felt comfortable with it. But, my opinion is that dealer support is the most important thing to look at after realiability. I also prefer to keep the same brand in my hand tools so that I can get all the parts and supplies at on shop and not have to make serveral stops though town due to different brands of hand tools.

    Now for the trailer. I am running in an enclosed now, but I started on an open flatbed. Two drawbacks of open trailers, all equipment is in plain view and advertised for thieves and it is more difficult to secure. Additionally, your advertising space on an open trailer is limited. With an enclosed, you can keep you equipment out of view, out fo the weather adn much more secure. Plus you can use it as a rolling workshop with more tools and maint items on board. You also have a much larger "Bill Board" to roll down the road with you.

    I like the enclosed because it does all that I want and in the long run is cheap advertising. LCOs operate many different ways from the equipment choices, to methods of advertising to trailer options. I like this site because it is very informative and provides alot of outside the box thinkers. What you decide to do about equipment and trailers is all up to you and how you want to operate your business.

    I would suggest that you make friends with a couple of sucessful LCOs in your area and pick their brains, find out how they operate and what thay have found to work. I have 2-3 LCOs that I talk to in my area quite often. We share info and help each other out. They are all helping me out with ideas and an account here and there.

    Good Luck

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