What to do?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by gravtyklz, Jan 13, 2006.

  1. gravtyklz

    gravtyklz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 96

    Okay as I drool over equipment I now come to getting much more serious.

    I want to pay cash for whatever I end up buying, so I think I want to start small in the field of earth moving.

    Heres the question though.....how does one start out with absolutely no experience? I'm an electrician, so I know certain aspects of construction and I see it very often, but ive never done the excavation, or earth moving part of it.

    I know a lot of people rent out equipment before buying something. Should I try to find someone needing work, and rent a piece of equipment to try it out and see how it works out?

    I've also thought about trying to find someone else in the business and help them out a little so I can gain a little experience and a "feel" for the work. What other alternatives are there though? Electrical work keeps me busy, so I doubt I can help out another contractor on my own schedule?
  2. tylermckee

    tylermckee LawnSite Member
    from wa
    Messages: 248

    no offense but if a fellow told me he had no experience and was going to rent a machine and be running it for the first time i wouldnt hire him. maybe find an operator and buddy up with him, hell maybe you could get lucky and trade some electrical work for him showing you some tricks of the trade.
  3. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 837

    My advice is exactly what I did for stone masonary experience. Like you I am a tradesman. I had machine experience but lacked the skills for building retaining walls. I got a job labouring for a firm building mass walls and simply progressed from that. It took some time because, like most things, actuaslly doing the job entails a lot more than driving a machine, building a wall or wiring a house. There is all the tricks of the trade, business management and peripheral stuff which is just as important.

    Get a job with a good operator and look for a mentor.

    I'm still learning:)
  4. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    I also suggest getting a job as an operator for a while. That way, if you don't like the business, you wouldn't have spent thousands buying the equipment only to end up selling it all off. Heck, you may not even enjoy operating equipment that much, who knows! Search for some hands on experience and you'll find your way. Maybe what you could do is tell some of your family and friends what you're doing and keep an ear to the ground to possibly score a job working for them. That way, if you screw it up, they won't be too mad at you. And instead of turning a profit on these jobs, tell them if they rent the machine and pitch in pizza and beer you'll do the job.
  5. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,170

    Perhaps look at it like this. If I came to you and said I am an excavator and what to learn how to be an electrician what would you do? Like starting in most any construction trade, working for an excavator part time with no equipment running experience, you certainly will find yourself at the end of a shovel. Much like an electricians apprentice would be doing the grunt work for a Journeyman electrician. That may or may not be appealing and you may not have time (assuming your still an electrician). This is what I did. I had run large ag equipment all my life. However I had no commercial dirt moving experience. I bought a skid steer and practiced and practiced leveling pads for concrete, laying out lawns ect. I started by taking on very small jobs and worked my way from there. That was a little more than 11 years ago. I only expanded as my knowledge expanded. I worked with larger excavators and learned a lot from them. The key is this. Should you take on larger more complex jobs than you are ready for and you will kill your reputation and if your in a small area it will take years to get that back if at all. Only take on the jobs that you know you have the ability to do well. As far as what machine to buy. I would start by putting a business plan together and determine what specific areas you want to get into. Whatever you determine. I would buy used and go from there. If it don't work out you may be able to sell out without getting stung too hard. Good luck
  6. gravtyklz

    gravtyklz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 96

    I appreciate all the advice. It's helped me a lot.

    I'de like to look more into working with someone else in the field of excavating/earth moving. Maybe I could sacrifice a couple days a week from the electrical field.

    The company I work with now is expanding its horizons sometime this year, or maybe the next to start setting modulars now. If thats the case I would like to have experience as an equipment operator and have the company help me buy what I need....that would also put me in a slight ownership of the company.

    Heres what I know I can do. I know someone with a crawler loader (big one), a backhoe, and a dumptruck. I could work with him a little. When I was much younger I helped him pour footers a few times, but thats much different....the only equipment used was a cement truck since everything was already excavated.

    The difference between he and I would be.....I would use a skid steer rather than a crawler loader I believe. Should I focus on trying to find someone doing something more precise to what I want to do, or is that close enough?

    Thanks again for all the help.
  7. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,170

    That would help provide the technical backround you need. It would not help turn you into a skid steer operator however. Perhaps buying your own skid steer and working for that guy (work out an hourly arrangement that paid for your skid steer time) might work out. This would allow you to work your own jobs at the same time and help get the "show on the road".

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