Starting mower

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by stevenf, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. stevenf

    stevenf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,612

    I bairly made it through my first year with a homeowner ztr. The deck was slightly bent so I really had to limit my advertisement. I made enough to end the year with a 5x10 trailer, a backpack sprayer, a backpack blower, an SRM-230 trimmer, an SRM-210 trimmer. and a 21inch toro mower. Everything is paid off so I am set for a new mower in around feb.
    I will be financing some, if not all, of it.
    I have been looking at nothing but lower end riders. The scag tiger cub, exmark lazer z hp, hustler fastraks, Ferris IS1500 and so on....
    Do you guys think I should go with a lower end rider or just buy a 48inch WB? This mower is going to have to last me through my main growing years ATLEAST (2-3 years). What would you do? Should my first big investment be a rider? Or should I buy a cheaper WB and it will get me through?
  2. DK lawn care

    DK lawn care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 763

    It depends on how many customers u have and how big their properties are. IF u have a good amount, with decent sized properties and plan on expanding alot next season, then i would take the big investment and buy a Exmark Lazer Ct with a 48 inch deck. Thats a good start off mower. If u plan on cutting small yards and dont plan on expanding a whole lot, then i would go out and buy a WB with a sulky
  3. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    I really don't see the big distinction that your trying tomake here between a ZTR and WB !! Commercial operators use what they are most comfortable using whether it be a ZTR or WB ... some prefer a ZTR and some don't. Therefore, it really depends on what you're comfortable with. Unless the issue is simply the money. If so, then you may want to go with a WB for the next 2-3 years. If not, I would recommend go with what you prefer ... if it's the ZTR, then get that. Just remember, you'll need to be happy with your purchase because you're going to be using all day, every day for several years !!
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I am sorry but I kinda take it personal when someone refers to a Wb as the cheap machine, more so because it makes it sound like it's a POS, and the Wb is anything but crap. Yes I may have brought this on myself, but I just wanted to make that clear.

    Now here, are you tired of going 'low end' rider, or are you in for another year like this one, barely making it through?

    I would start looking for a USED Wb, or if you prefer new that is fine, I think.
    The '98 model I bought in 2003 is with me today, thou it has sat most of the year due to broken brake pads and I did replace tranny and engine last winter, but we're also talking 8+ years on all the original parts (at least the expensive stuff). My '05 is just now about broken in... It may sound like it's just 2 years old, but this is the end of its third season, that's how good these things are, it is missing two or three of those parts that are not important but other than that gtg!

    A wb will get you 5-8 years down the road, guaranteed, so long you take care of it and do all the daily maintenance and whatever else it may need, they're designed to last 10-15 years...
    A low end Ztr, IMO it's just going to be another hard year, trying to make payments on something that costs you more than you can afford, no offense.

    So what's the choice, you ask?
    It's a no brainer from my end, 44-48" Wb.
    DO opt for a floating deck, at least for 2-3 years until you get good with it.
    And, get a Velke.
  5. stevenf

    stevenf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,612

    I am asking because of my price range. I plan to go after commercial and residential accounts. I plan on trying my hardest to make it 30-40 accounts ATLEAST next season.
    My main concerns are being tired. Does the standing up all day really take its toll? I will be targeting many different size lawns.

    Even though Im on the lower end rider budget, I still know that I have to have a machine that will allow me to get the job done, yet last in my main growing years.
  6. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    I agree with Topsites. I hardly consider the $5850 I spent on my WB cheap, especially when I could have gotten a rider for not much more. With me a WB was a more practical decision because of the smaller lawns I cut and also some of the lawns have very steep hills. With a WB you also have an option of riding, but try walking behind a rider!

    WALKER LANDSCAPE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,413

    I agree with Topsites as well. a WB is the heart of any LCO it can handle anything. It all depends on the size of your accounts. I think a WB would be a good choice. I have had one of my WB for going on 9 years now.
  8. stevenf

    stevenf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,612

    You say that your WB are 9-10 years old, Do you use them on a regular basis as much as you can or do you have other mowers?
    Im just haveing a hard time deciding because I havent been into this very long. Before My homeowner one, I knew nothing about ztr mowers. I have a financing limit of about 6k. This has made me think if its better to save $1,000.00 or so on a WB or to get somehting like a toro Z master 19/48 or a Ferris IS1500 19/44 Which are $5,300.00 ish
  9. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    I agree that WB's are good, solid machines and are at the ahert of any LCO for the most part ... although, like I said above, it really depends on what the individual LCO is most comfortable working with !! Having said that, and having the question answered concerning whether the issue is really the money, at this point I would say go with a WB due to the fiancial consideration. However, in your situation I would go with a used WB that you can get for about $ 3,000 to $ 3,500. This will let you build up your business and the machine will last you for the next 3-4 years at least ... by then you'll know whether you should stay with a WB or get a ZTR !!
  10. wooley99

    wooley99 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    In short it depends.

    I bought a '97 Toro 37in gear drive WB this year as my first commercial mower. It cuts great but was down for parts for 6 weeks in Aug and Sep. While it was down and the heat was killing me I bought a Husky 4217 ZTR for $5500 because I "had" to have a mower now and I wanted to be able to back up for all the narrow alleys between the sides of the house and privacy fence. The Z is faster but it's bouncy even going slowly on somewhat rough lawns. I scuff more turf with the Z than the WB and I do more trimming or 21" mowing because I'm afraid to take it into ditches w/o the ROPS and with the ROPS it tears up trees and shrubs. Even folded I have to stay further away from privacy fences. When I'm mowing a half acre that feels like the sod was laid over a washboard I cuss the whole time and the WB w/sulky is more comfortable. When I'm one of of the few wide open lawns I do the Z is the bomb though.

    In hindsight I wish I'd bought a new hydro 36" WB from the start. I very nearly bought a Quick (sorry Gary) but for the pistol grips (dwarf hands) and needing a tool box to change the cutting height. Whatever you get; if you can use it on all your properties you don't need to drag as many mowers around. If you get a WB first you'll have a great back-up mower later too.

    My .2 cents from my first year's rookie mistakes and adventures.

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