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Ready to buy a trencher - any advise?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by TuffWork, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. TuffWork

    TuffWork LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 506

    With the narrow tracks I can get through gates for minor things like running a new wire, or adding a drip line to an existing system, etc. The sk650 may have more power, but I really don't think I can afford a 650 as of yet. Keep in mind this is my first step moving from a mowing crew with some minor irrigation repair, landscaping, and tree work. To being a "real" landscape and irrigation company.

    Messages: 18,668

    Don't get fooled by that real tag. A single irrigation service guy doing 1500 hours of billing will make more than most real landscape and irrigation owners.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. allinearth

    allinearth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    Should be some used dingos or ditch witch sk's out there that could be had reasonably. You couldn't pay me to take one of those old 3 wheel walk behind. I had enough of those days. Fimco is right. Look at profit not size. I used to think like you until I "arrived" and quickly turned around to leave.
  4. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    Well to me being diversified is key. The more services you can bill out for... the busiers you will stay. The whole idea is to bill out for as many man hours as possible. Keep the mowing crew for cash flow, do the landscaping and irrigation for gravy.

    IMO, the more services you can do the more jobs you can land. Now I am not talking jack of all trades, but we do maintenance, natural stone work, water features, lighting, pouring concrete, irrigation install, irrigation repair, grading and skid steer work and we can stay very busy. Plus on a large job, it is a one stop shop where it gets to be a total painintheass dealing with subs and their schedules and getting them to the damn work right AND you are losing billable man hours.

    I am big believer in doing everything yourself... at least in the sense that my employees do everything for me.

    I am learning how to acid stain concrete as an alternative to pavers since most people already have patios and it half the price to pour concrete and stain than install pavers. Just trying to create another avenue to bill for man hours and possibly fill a niche.

    And I just bought a vibratory plow since no one around here pulls pipe. I think it will make our production faster, but if my price is remotely close to someone trenching it in... who do you think they will go with?
  5. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    And I would argue that a well run landscape/irrigation company could crush a guys net that was doing just 1500 hours of irrigation repair.

    And the owner doesn't have to dig holes.
  6. TuffWork

    TuffWork LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 506

    Exactly. That's what I'm striving for. Last year I was almost all mowing. With some tree work and small landscaping. This year I'm doing more tree work, more landscaping, plus about twice the mowing, and have added irrigation. I'm doing well so far with irrigation. I plan on getting my pesticide app. lic. sometime before next season.

    All that's not really here nor there. The subject here is the trencher. I demoed the sk350 today. The first one I picked up was a used unit that I was considering buying, but it had no power. I think the motor was about to go on it. So I took it back and he gave me a new unit to try out.

    The new unit was pretty nice. It did the job, but it didn't do it well. It took me all day just to trench out two zones. (keep in mind we have hard packed clay, and last year was a drought) So I'm thinking that if I'm gonna spend this much money on something I might as well get what I really need, and I don't think a 350 is it. I'm gonna call the dealer in the morning and find out if he'll let me demo a 650 tomorrow. I'm hoping the 650 will be much faster with almost twice the power to the boom. If not I'm afraid these installs aren't going to be very profitable.
  7. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    Let us know how you like the 650
  8. TuffWork

    TuffWork LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 506

    I liked the 650. It was much more of a machine than the 350. The 350 would only creep in the clay. However, the 650, while not lightning fast, was still almost twice as fast as the smaller one. If a person were to try and build a sprinkler installation "crew". You would almost have to have a 650 for this neck of the woods.

    Which brings me to my dilemma. I'm not really doing installs all the time. So I don't really need a trencher all the time. I could probably afford a 350 if I really needed it, but I don't really think I can afford a 650 even if I found a good used unit (which I have). Also, if I were to buy a 350 now out of necessity I would just be irritated at myself later for not buying what I will really need in the long run. It comes down to the fact that I don't really really HAVE to have one yet. So I guess I'm gonna eat a few hundred dollars here and there for a while until I can really afford what I need. All in all I'm kinda disappointed, but I guess it's for the best.
  9. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    What about a ditch witch sk500? I have seen a few on craigslist. What is your budget? Also, I just bought 2 used ditch witch 650s and may sell my two of toro dingo diesel 525s if you are interested. I would say a 525 is maybe 5-10% less productive than a 650. They are little smaller, but have about the same hydraulic flow for an attachment. I just bought a vibe plow and will probably sell one of mini skid trenchers as well.

    My first dingo I bought was a Toro Dingo tx425 with 400hrs for $5k about 7 years ago. It was one of the best purchases I have ever made. I think if you are patient and find a "steal", you can probably sell it and when you find what you really want you could sell it and break even and get what you really want. When I decided to replace that TX425 with a newer model, I sold it for $500 more than I paid for it and used it for 3-4 years.
  10. TuffWork

    TuffWork LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 506

    Well part of what's holding me back is that I don't have a whole lot of my own capital on hand at the moment. So, seems like I need to pay down some of my current debt and get some money of my own. Also, if I want to get a good deal waiting until winter might be my best bet. Furthermore, I've only done one install. I probably need to get a few more under my belt to decide whether I really think this is profitable. That's what I really learned from all this. I thought I was ready to buy a trencher, but now I realize I need to take a step back. Which is sometimes the right thing to do.

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