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Starting out

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by AndyL, Mar 17, 2002.

  1. AndyL

    AndyL LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Hi Everyone,

    After a recent move, (from calgary) I'm up in the great white north, or at the very least farther north than I care to be :D

    I've had a few months to look around at the local landscaping companies, and realized... I wouldn't choose to work for any of them. Maybe I was treated too well with my former employer! Don't know if Jim N or Pete A reads this, but if you are, You guys ARE the best!

    I still really like landscape maintenance. I like the job, I found I was WAY more nit-picky than my customers... To me a horrible cut or cleanup was in their eyes "Excelent".

    I am almost CCHT certified in Landscape Maintenance (did everything correctly, just missed safety items, mostly with jobs I have never done, or probably will ever choose to do)

    I'm thinking this spring will be the perfect time to get out and build my own company. This will be a first for me, but I've owned a few small companies before, so I'm not 100% terrified, none of them involved landscaping...

    I'd love to hear some good advice, on what to do when starting out, and what to avoid. From what I've seen of the local companies, they target the commercial market more than the residential market. And considering I prefer residential, this works for me!

    I'd also like to hear some thoughts on equipment, at my previous employer, I was using Walker GHS, Hydrostat and Belt drive Ransome walk behinds, push mowers were mostly John Deere JA60/62s (I wont be even considering 62), I used mostly Toro and Echo Line trimmers, tho we had mariyamas (I had a heck of a time getting those to start, just didn't have the magic touch I guess) and a Stihl or two. And almost exclusively Stihl BR400 blow packs. My real problem up here is, there is no real store that sells professional landscaping equipment. The John Deere dealer can order any J.D. product. Otherwise, its a 3-4 hour drive to the nearest major center to get equipment/parts. In other words, I need very reliable equipment, anything that I can't get parts for local, had better not need parts often! I am considering the purchase of a bigger walk behind (36" deck?) for some of the bigger properties. Probably with a sulky, but otherwise, I want to keep the equipment small.

    I already managed to buy 2 trucks, (an 84 F350 4x4 460, dually, and an 86 F350 302 SRW) Both had service bodies, those have been removed, sold, and I'm custom building a new service body with dump box so I'll be able to carry all my equipment without a trailer (bigger walk behind mower excluded, will need a trailer for that) Trucks should be pretty sharp when I'm done with them. And to think, so far they've cost me nothing! (the service boxes that were on them sold for more than the price of the trucks, and all the metal/hydraulics I've bought for them so far)

    I know my biggest headache is going to be staff. Unemployment here is less than 1% (pretty much the people who choose not to work) 'minimum' wage up here (unofficially) is 10$/hr. Everyone is desperate for employees. So the highest likelyhood is I'll be doing most of this work solo... I do have a friend of a friend in mind, who would be willing to come to work for me, but considering he's illiterate, and doesn't have a drivers license, I'm not 100% sure I want him. (although he is a VERY hard worker)

    Looking forward to hearing from everyone,

  2. AK Lawn

    AK Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 186

    where are you? just wondering, you said up north. seems like you have a solid idea and a good start, i am also in a tuff spot trying to find employees in Alaska.
    AK lawn:blob3:
  3. AndyL

    AndyL LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    South of da border baby! :)

    Fort McMurray Alberta :) You're in the only place in the world where I can say I'm South of the border from you :) (Just barely tho, more like east!)

  4. Grasskeepers

    Grasskeepers LawnSite Member
    from Alberta
    Messages: 108

    hey are you still flat out? are you turning away work

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