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When to buy your own trencher/skid

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by CurbAppealKS, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. CurbAppealKS

    CurbAppealKS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 448

    A little background guys, I have been in the industry for around five years. I started at the bottom and made my way up to crew leader where I was in charge of managing several guys on a crew at a time doing everything from landscape installs to irrigation service and installation.

    This year I decided to purchase a business in April and go out on my own. The business I bought was strictly mowing, but it came with a customer base which was imperative for me. I knew that I could up sell and offer more services to my customers so far it's been a success.

    This leads me into my question, when did you decide to purchase your first piece of equipment? I have been considering either a walk behind trencher or a mini skid with the different attachments. I have researched and I'm well aware of the costs involved. I am marketing my business towards irrigation/landscape installs. In my opinion I will need either a skid or mini skid at some point. I just have to make my mind up on whether I want strictly a trencher or the diversity of a mini skid, but I digress.

    I know that I obviously need the machine to pay for itself to justify purchasing my own. And this entails at least a job per week I would say. This is just a guess going off of the average install around my area. Renting is what I have been doing up until this point, but as you all know it gets costly after a while.

    I would like some honest opinions and advice on when to take the leap and buy. I appreciate your time, I'm sorry for the long post.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  2. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Messages: 2,745

    I would purchase what I could make the most money with. A few years ago we decided to purchase a SCUT, it was one of the better things we've ever done. In fact I upgraded to a larger tractor this year. It more than earns its keep with brush hogging, plowing gardens, moving rock/mulch, mowing, and on and on...
  3. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,565

    If you know you are in trenching territory, your search is simpler. If you can install sprinkler pipe with a vibratory plow, then you'd be looking for a combo plow-trencher.
  4. CurbAppealKS

    CurbAppealKS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 448

    Thanks for the responses guys. Some jobs can be plowed, some can be trenched. This is part of my problem as well.

    I agree with what gcbailey said as far as get what I can make the most money with. I can honestly say that I would benefit from having a machine that can do many things. If I had a mini skid I could plant trees and many other things that force me to rent equipment right now.

    Boots I know you have been around here for a long time and in the industry as well. When did you decide to make the jump from renting to owning?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. Irrigation Contractor

    Irrigation Contractor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 423

    I have been using Toro Dingo's since 1999 and now we have Vermeer 800's and a 650 TX all with diesel engines.

    100% convinced these machines are by far worth the additional up front expense due to all of the attachments. Our soil is clay / rock and we trench everything. Having the grading equipment along with buckets vs. rakes and wheelbarrows keeps the crews installing rather than doing cleanup work. The compact utility loaders replace at least one laborer and increase production of the others.

    We also use the boring attachments and we now use a vibratory plow attachment for pulling long runs of landscape lighting wire and irrigation wire when we have to replace long runs on decoder systems.

    Definitely recommend tracks and do NOT mess with the gas motors.
  6. CurbAppealKS

    CurbAppealKS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 448

    Thank you! The company that I worked at had a dingo 220 with wheels. They had every attachment that we needed to do landscape and irrigation installs. I liked the dingo, but it was a little underpowered I thought as well as pretty easy to tip with a load.

    How is the maintenance on the diesel units? The two companies I have looked at are vermeer and ditch witch.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,565

    For strictly irrigation, the dedicated wheeled plows would be a starting point, like a Vermeer LM-42

    also, there are bound to be decent used machines around
  8. gusbuster

    gusbuster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,930

    Not mentioned, but what about trying to buy the machines you have been renting if it suits your purpose?

    Yes there is a little risk involved, but it does give you a chance to recover some of the up front cost much faster. Sometimes you can get real lucky and get an awesome deal. Its how I got my sod cutter with only 20 hrs on it for $700 from a company that I would rent from on a regular basis. I had the cash, he wanted to get rid of the equipment.

    But most important rule regarding buying equipment....know and have the work to pay for it. Ever pay attention to Ebay around October or so and see low hour equipment for sale?
  9. txirrigation

    txirrigation LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 977

    We have and use a dw 650 and dw 755 everyday. I also have a Kanga 522??? Diesel that I have retired but we keep at the shop to move trailers, clean up the road, and move material.

    I started with the Kanga bc I bought it for 5,000 with a trenching attachment. We trench 5-6 days a week with both dw machines and I strongly believe I have made up the price difference in maintenance and versatility. We can move dirt, rock, do light grading, cover trenches, etc. My guys even use them as a jack when changing trailer tires. You cannot pick up a pallet of grass, but you can push and pull them into better staging places.

    Starting out it is hard to say that a 20k+ purchase is a good one, but do what I did and buy a used machine for a great deal. Wait for winter to set in, those landscapers that do not budget start selling everything.
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  10. CAPT Stream Rotar

    CAPT Stream Rotar LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,192

    if i were to start a business i'd buy a dingo...versatile...**** it can plow for you in the winter.

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