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excavating business

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by dmk395, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. dmk395

    dmk395 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 1,006

    For those of you who own one, or are a landscape company that does excavation work, how did you get into this? I started landscaping buying a 21" mower, putting flyers out....seems alot harder to start an excavating business?
  2. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    You better know your cost and how to move dirt fast. remember alway handle dirt once. And yes start up costs can get into big numbers. If you think you can dig basemants with a rubber tire machine most guys with 1 or 2 yd excavators will run circles around you for less money.
  3. coopers

    coopers LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,223

    What about putting yourself in the phone book? Go talk to local rental places like United Rentals, talk to nurseries etc. That's what I would do. I would think you'd just have to spread the word through whatever means possible. At least that's whay I'd do.

    Blake Iverson
  4. landman

    landman LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 110

    Maybe I could be of help here. First, this is not an easy add on business to get into. Most importantly you need experience in the excavating field, meaning running equiptment, reading grade plans, knowing about soil and conditions. I had a few years experience working for a company before I started on my own. I first started on my own with a landscaping business and over the years had rented equiptment if I needed it, then I bought a bobcat 753 skid steer($11,000.00 at the time used), I bought this machine first because it was a machine that I was using often and once you get to a point where it is cheaper to own then rent you buy. Once you buy now you must overcome another obsticle now you need to try to find work for this equiptment to pay for it self, I did this by advertising in local supply yards etc. I even worked for other landscapers. In turn shortly after I was getting busy I moved on to another machine, a John Deere 410 backhoe($18,000.00 used) and now I had more versatility to do larger scale work for myself as well as for others plus we were going to use this machine to do work at our yard to load mulch, soil, etc. When I also bought this machine I took a diffrent route of advertising, I posted ads at local plumbling suppliers and a few other places, (thought most plumblers replace sewer and water lines and don't have a machine or operator to dig) phone started ringing like crazy was doing 2-3 water/sewer lines a week this was EZ money you show up 8 am dig the trench in about 1-2 hrs leave for about 4 hrs and come back at 2 to backfill for an hour and still get paid for a full day. Now the Biggest thing about also owning a machine like this is transporting it on top of the cost of the JD410 I bought a single axle truck ($15,000.00 used) and 9 ton trailer ($3,000.00 used) to move it around with. after many years in the ladscape business we started getting calls to landscape new subdivisions and this required alot of grading, well you guessed it now we went out and bought a John Deere 450 Dozer ($22,000.00 used). at the same time i had come across a pool company that hired me for work and then in talking to them as well as the builder they asked me to excavate for them to keep all thier business with the same guy and they liked our work, well you guessed it we bought a Komatsu PC180 excavator ($38,000.00 used) and now we dig built in pools and founations. but once again guess what now that you digin and need to move dirt we had to buy a mack tandem dump ($25,000.00 used) and an 20 ton trailer to move the excavator($7,500.00 used) we have also over the years bought a large tree chipper that takes up to 14" dia logs for landclearing and tree work ($12,000.00 used) and paving equiptment Power box 450 ($7,500.00 used) and 2 rollers ($3,000.00- $6,000.00 used) and a Ingnersol-rand compressor ($5,000.00 used). Plus now we have a hired operator( he is also our mechanic for our equpitment) $35.00 per hour @ 40 hr work week, Insurance, and maintenance for this equiptment. So hopefully you get the idea of what it takes, we also do still advertise in a construction book and phone pages for excavating work but most of our work comes from word of mouth and people just seeing us around. I never bought equiptment unless there was a "need" for it. Up until the point of purchase we always rented, and sometimes we still do when we need special equpitment for the job. Good luck!
  5. dmk395

    dmk395 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 1,006


    Thanks for the informative post, thats what I was looking for. Did you find excavating to be more profitable than landscaping?
    I am also thinking of buying a used skidsteer, then I can practice and get good in my supply yard.....or should I just keep renting them and practicing on the job so to speak?

    BTW, I am 23 have a successfull maint. business, and just am looking for other add ons.
  6. landman

    landman LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 110

    By far it is more profitable, but we still do much landscaping and maintenance work, for this is the "bread and butter" of the business. You can set yourself up with the maintenance for 36 weeks out of the year, you can't do that with excatvaing. We also install alot of large retaining walls too so that keeps us going as well. The downside to the excavating business is that is slows in the winter time just like landscaping, obviously people aren't installing pools in Jan-Feb when its 20 degrees out, also the paving and concrete comes to a standstill as well. We still dig an ocasional foundation in the winter but not as often as we do in Mar- Dec. Same as grading and such it's hard to do when the ground is frozen. We do try to landclearing in the winter for a few builders so that when the ground thaws in Mar we can start digging again. Remember if you have all the equiptment sitting idle in the winter your still paying insurance so you need to make it while you can. As for your ? about the skid steer if you can afford it and are going to use it then get it, but just don't get it to have it sit around and then everytime you see it you will say to yourself I should saved my money and bought ???? instead. We still have a skid steer and we use it in the winter for loading salt, moving pallets of ice melt, and some light snow removal if needed, this way we keep our backhoe on a site where it's needed to stack snow and still make us money.
  7. dirtman1

    dirtman1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    You can post for free on that site. Maybe you'll get some work from it. It also has maps to list fill dirt, topsoil, free dirt, graders, landscapers, erosion control contractors. People who list are responciable for what grade of dirt that is listed. By the way I forgot, you can also find a hauler to bring you a load of dirt on it.
  8. Bleed Green

    Bleed Green LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,514

    what kind of landscape maintenance do you do?
  9. John K

    John K LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 47

    "landman" hasn't been on since 12-07-2004 07:01 PM

    Hmmm. Wonder what happened? No more website either.....
  10. StoneFaced

    StoneFaced LawnSite Member
    Messages: 201

    Very tough business to be in right now, my excavators have literally millions of $$ worth of equipment just sitting around and rusting, operators who have hours cut down to almost nothing or have been laid off...not good.

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