Think back to your where you got your start...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by hi_speedreed, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. hi_speedreed

    hi_speedreed LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 534

    I am glad I stumbled across this site. I have read a lot of good information, but I have also read a lot of comments that lead me to believe every person here started their business with a $8000+ mower, top of the line hand helds, new trucks and trailers.

    I am coming up on my 1yr anniversary. I mow with a 42" Toro Timecutter, and a 21" MTD Yard Machine push mower. I tow it on a trailer that I got a deal on and I trim with an Echo SRM 230. I currently have 11 clients and I still work my full time job at Home Depot. I am sure some of you started with the capital to purchase great equipment or inherited your business but I am also sure many of you did not. So just for S & G what did you start with?
  2. Turf Dawg

    Turf Dawg LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,719

    When I started in 95 it was part time with my nice Honda mower and my Homelite trimmer and a 2hp edger. My neighbors were always wanting me to mow for them and I did not want my wife working since she was about to domino with or second child. It was not long before I bought a riding mower but quickly sold it to buy walkbehinds. I guess some start out with big loans but I started with the minimum. It did not take long till I was needing faster and more equipement though.

    MOHUSTLER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,376

    I started out with my cousin when I was 13 he was 16 and we used my dads old ford truck, I had a John Deere SABRE (mtd) mower. His dad has a old husky brand (mtd). We both had RYOBI trimmers that you could get to start mabey once a day at best.

    We both saved up our money and without doing much shopping around went and bought a Woods 52" outfont when them and grasshopper were the same.

    Took on 2 LARGE jobs. Both over 20 acres haha. That was a blast spending our whole summer mowing when we were suppost to be inside playing videogames or at the pool.

    At the time I was 15 and he was 18 and we brought in over 20k that summer, while our friends were flipping burgers for $5 an hour.

    It snowballed and he went into the military and I got burnt out of the mowing side and here I am today a dealer.
  4. jason72g

    jason72g LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    My partner and I are both career bankers, we are both 25 years old with great credit. We have scored 25 accounts, of which about 8 of them are weekly accounts, with no advertising at all. Just shows what a good reputation in your community can do for you. This is our first real, full season. Here is the thing though, we can sacrifice a profit for one season, in order to get all of the equipment we feel is necessary. In other words, our bank salaries are sufficient to live on. No expenses were/are paid out of our personal incomes.

    We have a 6x12 enlosed trailer, a 2011 Hustler ZTR, a BOP 36" WB, a 21" Honda Comm, all STIHL handhelds, including backpack blowers etc. We have 2 loans that both equal about $10,000 together, in which we pay close to $1000.00 on each loan, each month ($2000.00) every month, which will make them paid off by next season's startup.

    We are looking to get a company truck pretty soon (something 2-3 years old.) And the trailer will be lettered next month.

    I will say this though... It may not be the norm to be able to do this, but it has worked out great for us, we put money in our personal pockets every month.

    Our thinking is, is if we can get in to a position that will allow us to maintain the quality of life we have as bankers, sacrificing big payouts now, then maybe next year we can go at it full time, needing little other than routine maintenance and overhead costs.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Debt looks beautiful from the outside.
  6. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    I cashed out my IRA for 7k...bought a 180k mile p/u and trailer. Was given 2 commercial WB's, 21", trimmer at principal +12% interest...and free shop space for 1 season. Ate rice and beans for 2 weeks.
  7. GravyTrain

    GravyTrain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    I can't imagine those companies that started out with the $10k mower, $5000 trailer, new diesel truck and all the bells and whistles are even on this board, because they probably aren't around any more.

    jason might be around for a while, as he seems to have a pretty solid idea and is not relying on income this first year.

    Most of the guys up to their ears in debt before mowing a single yard have no idea what they are getting into. You are doing it right, but you will slowly want to build up to more reliable equipment. If nothing else, it saves you time (and therefore money) not having to constantly fix broken equipment, it also looks a lot better when you can tell your customer that you have commercial equipment that is built to last and you have backup equipment. Stating that fact to potential customers has won me bids where I was the highest price.

    As for me, I started and still have a used Turf Tracer HP, gave 4k for it. a trailer i paid about 1k for, and stihl handhelds new, but all bought during a local businesses annual sale. I still have everything I started with (5 years ago), but have added equipment and upgraded almost everything.
  8. jason72g

    jason72g LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    You are exactly right. I understand a lot of people rely on their lawn maintenance income to live on, but we are in a unique situation that we don't have to. Would I want to? Hell yes! I would love to do this as my sole source of income! Which hopefully next year we can do.

    As for Topsites comment, debt is a great thing when used wisely. Debt can get you in some serious trouble, and as bankers we know first hand that if used in a smart way, debt is great! We will have both loans paid of at year end hopefully and will have paid 0% interest... Why not?
  9. LewisLawn

    LewisLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 518

    I started mowing 10 yrs ago with a john deere 170 that i inherited thought i could mow cheaper than what my father in law was paying to have his condos mowed for..after second week JD gave out on me and bought a 48" WB on credit paid off quickly...have reinvested in handhelds every year always need a back up....have expanded to avg 20+ accts a year plus misc. work extra leaf removal and mulch etc...purchased a ZTR little over a year ago needed it for full time 8-4 mon-fri want to develop this so I can turn it over to my son someday...its helped make life enjoyable beyond what the daily job could afford me and the family
  10. gebby

    gebby LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    Started 16 years ago with 1,000.00 borrowed from my mother.
    Bought a Troybilt 33" POS walk behind. Still have it and runs.
    1 Lawn Boy POS self propelled for home.
    1 POS weed eater brand strig trimmer.
    1 Riding Gravely 48 inch deck.
    1 1969 GMC 2500 pick up truck. Bought from my dad and just sold 4 weeks ago.
    First account was a truck stop for 165.00 a week. Wiser now, never ever take on a truck stop. The world is a truckers trash can. They also use York Peppermint Patties for mouth wash as that was the favorite candy bar wrapper they threw out the most. You just never know what you might find in the grass or parking lot at a truck stop.
    Won a Kubota lawn tractor that summer in a raffel, 5.00 ticket, sold that and paid mom off been going and growing steady since then. It took me about 10 years to buy a zero turn, a newer truck and a trailer with cash. I continue to buy good nice equipment that holds up very well. I had to start with junk. When you have started with junk, you really appreciate good quality tools. If I had to guess truck, triailer, mowers, hand helds, spray equipment, all well over 50,000.00
    So when I see a fellow out there in a old PU truck, humping his a** off, I don't laugh at him. I remember me being that guy. I admire him for trying and doing something other than sitting on his a** thinking the world owes him something. Every one of us is one heart beat away from being in a bad position. My wife hasn't worked in 16 years, my job is to take care of her and my children. Her job is to take care of them. She works much harder than me. By the grace of God, I am a very luck man.

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