Semi vs Commerical mowers

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by yazzy, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. yazzy

    yazzy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I was recently laid off from my full-time groundskeeping job at a local university and now I'm looking at maybe starting up a lawn mowing business after a few suggestions were made about it.

    I'm used to Commercial mowers, we had three John Deere 997 72" and 4 other commercial mowers when I was working.

    Obviously there's no way for me to afford an $18,000 mower. Even the low end JD 700 series mowers are pushing the price even though I know they're worth it.

    I'm trying to keep my initial start up expenses under $10,000 so I've been looking at what they call Semi-Pro mowers, in particularly the John Deere Z425 54" mower.

    What are your thoughts on these kind of mowers? Are they durable enough to handle a small commercial business, but also durable enough to mow 15 acres in a day on one job? I was looking at trying to secure the mowing contract this year with our local school system, which is generally around $12-$13,000 a year for the three separate schools.
  2. Chevy z71

    Chevy z71 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,052

    You would get more bang for your buck If you got a hydro walkbehind.
  3. Spring Valley Lawn Service

    Spring Valley Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 142

    Look for demo units. John deere in my area has had them. Also look at the options. There may be things you can day away with.
  4. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 452

    if you're just starting up, look for a GOOD belt drive walk behind. They're very versatile, can cover decent ground, come in various sizes, are affordable, and really easy to fix. If you wanted to, you could get a hydro WB for more $. Another option is to get a GOOD used zrt. I got a 36" belt WB and a used 52" ztr last year when I started. Now, come Jan, I'll be getting a brand new Tiger Cat or Turf Tiger to replace my current ztr. So i made enough in my first year, just starting out, to justify the cost of a new machine. You could do what I did, and try it out on the cheap first to see if you can make it. OR give it hell right form the start, go balls out and drop the $ on a brand new machine. You just need to be able to get the accounts to cover the cost. That's the hard part. Start getting accounts NOW, that way you have an idea if you outta go new or used. You can get a mower pretty quickly if you need to. So get the accounts first, then get the machine.

    also, skip the JD and get a Scag. I'm pricing Tiger Cat's now with a 61" Velocity deck and 27hp Kawi. lowest I was quoted was around 8,000. thats brand new. 0% for 48 months. 2 year commercial warranty, 3 year deck and spindle warranty. Both my current mowers are used Scags, high hours, rode hard and put away wet and they still run and cut great. Good luck.
  5. brianslawncare

    brianslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 459

    u have 10k to spend look on ebay u could find a zero turn and walkbehind for that. but they will be used. there is also some complete packages on there.i started out with a mtd tractor for my first 2 years then i quickly learned why the guys in my area had scag and exmark mowers, not many deere users in my area.i wouldnt spend it all i would start slow until u get the customers.also buying used u know some of the problems that went wrong with the mowers u ran before so u could fix them if something happened.
  6. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 581

    Scag and Exmark are big in Delaware as well, I am not a fan of JD. Wait until the Spring when your local mower shops have huge discounts at their spring expo's. Or go the eBay route, just don't throw out ridiculous offers to people. :waving:
  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,108

    look at world lawn or encore mowers. Can get one new for about 5500$ saw some in your state on craigslist.
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    That Deere looks a bit too light duty for commercial cutting. I think you need to step it up a notch or risk buying a disposable mower. Gravely's HD series mowers look decent as does the Exmark Pioneer (looked at one yesterday in fact). I see some commercial cutters around me using the Scag Freedom mowers.

    Bob-Cat has some reasonably priced machines too...the Fastcat Pro prices are pretty good.
  9. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 581

    Every area is different with their top mower brands, for just starting out World Lawn makes a good walk commercial behind mower that is starting to grow in popularity in Northern, DE. I prefer my Toro T-bar walk behinds because they are so much easier on your body than pistol grips.


    I just don't understand why some people want to buy that residential ztr instead of buying a commercial walk behind because the prices are close.

  10. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    Take a look on craigslist or on the marketplace on here and find yourself a nice used machine. This way you can get a quality commercial machine for far less money than buying new and still get quite a bit of time out of it. I took a look on craigslist in my area found quite a few choices in used commercial machines...I'm sure that will be what you find too.

    There are plenty of brands available, just because someone on here doesn't particularly like one brand doesn't mean that it isn't good. Any reputable brand like Deere, Exmark, Toro, Scag, Hustler, etc., will serve you well. Just be sure to consider the dealer support in your area should your "new" mower need servicing or parts.

    There is absolutely no need to spend you entire budget just to get started. There is plenty of used equipment out there that will serve you well as you start out and still keep some money in your pocket.

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