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Which order? SS, MINI-X, Big dump?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by mrusk, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    My business is 85% hardscapes. As i progress with my company, i realize i need to add a few peices of equipment to make my company more efficent. I know i need to add a skid steer, a mini-x and a 26k or 33k dump truck (possible with a hook lift). I may only be able to add 1 next year, however i am hoping for two. Which would you buy first. Right now i am renting machines and having all material delivered to the job. Delivery cost add up.

    I am planning on going new on both the skid steer and the mini-x. Don't debate that though. I will go used on the truck though.

    What do you guys think i should buy first?

  2. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 543

    Skid steer first! Most versatile piece of equipment and handiest to have. With forks, bucket, yard install tools... why rent when you can have it around all the time. Buy the backhoe and forget the mini ex...or just postpone it. With the price of license, insurance, fuel maintenace.... the truck is something to really pencil out. We've started having more and more mats delivered versus self haul for just that reasoning. Good luck!
  3. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    I would go with the skid steer, provided you have a truck to pull it.

    A skid steer is more versatile than the mini x. A mini x and a skid steer is an ideal combination, but obviously not your reality, yet. With the right skid steer, you can use it for each phase of a hardscape project and many more projects. Ever install base aggregate over a large area with a mini x? Ever move a pallet of pavers with a mini x? Also, I didn't catch where you are from, but the skid steer can be used for snow removal, which has been about a third of my annual revenue.

    As far as the skid steer rentals vs. delivery charges, the length of time you need to rent a skid steer for each job can be unpredictable. What if you bid in two rental days and use it for four. Your delivery cost for a given job is a known cost, your rental fees for a skid steer per day are as well. However, the number of days you need it can and will vary from your estimation. I bid delivery into almost every hardscape estimate I prepare. My vendor will deliver anywhere within the area we work in for $100.00 or less. It would cost me almost that much to send a guy to pick up the materials. Why have a guy in a truck on the road when he can be on the job making you money?

    Hope this helps.
  4. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 837

    Mrusk, G,day
    I build limestone retaining walls and have all three of what you are contemplating so I'll see if I can help out with my experiences:

    Firstly, the excavator - It is fundamental to our business, it pulls out fences, digs footings, levels, lays the blocks and gets used as a crane to load & unload our gear. It is the most universal of our machines and, if starting over would be our first choice machine. We also have a hydraulic hammer which brings in hourly hire work and we have a demolition/rake bucket which is good for cleaning work areas. I have transplanted some huge trees with this machine. An auger would be a worthwhile addition. Other hardscapers regularly hire us and this machine which really helps fill in the gaps in the cash flow.

    Secondly, the Skid Steer - The machine wasn't bought primarily for the limestone business but to supplement our work by doing general site works. Problem is the bloody thing is so handy, especially with the pallet forks. Whilst our Skid mainly gets used for hourly hire site works we find we would not be without it...and it always earns good money.

    Thirdly, Dump Truck - We have a 9 tonne Mitsubishi tipper and are trying to work out how we can get another one on the road. Well you need something to pull/carry the excavator and skid around don't you. In so far as carrying your materials around its worth having a close look at. If I leave a site the work slows down or, worse, goes wrong. Taking a guy off site to get material usually slows production. If you have a good relationship with your suppliers talk to them about delivery cost. Generally if its just a small quantity and its not far I will pick it up but for most its more economical for me to make a call, pay $15 - $20 for delivery and not take people off site. I can get a pallet of cement delivered for 20 cents a bag so why bother with all the time it takes to do it yourself.

    Finally the approach you are looking at is viable if you have the machine work available such that the machines will pay for themselves right away. I find hiring machines takes the cream off the pie. If you already have the work what are you waiting for?. I see people going out and buying new $50K motor vehicles which earn them Jack..My 246B only has to work one week to make a months payment, insurance and maintenance..The rest is yours. People seem to become emotionally attached to their machines but at the end of the day they are only there to put food on the family table.

    Work out your hire costs and do a budget...them get the mini-x and see how things pan-out. Just my HO, hope this helps.
  5. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    I have a 3/4 ton cummins so i can pull a skid steer fine.

    I just think my supply yard is screwing me on delivery charges. They have a tandem flat deck with the forklift on the back. For local deliveries their charging me 125 + 25 dollor fuel surcharge. They can only put 8 pallets of block on the truck. So on my last job i had to pay for 2 deliveries since i needed 12 pallets.
    After getting the block 5 yards of base, 18 yards of 3/4 stone, and 18 yards of top soil i had $500 bucks in delivery charges. So basically i don't think i am going to stay loyal to my one supplier anymore. I like the guy personally, but business is business.

    I am just trying to cut cost as much as possible to get the tools i need to make the most money.

  6. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    One more thing, by ordering agergate from supply yards, i belive i am paying a signifant amount more per a yard or ton, then what it would cost buy picking it up at the quarry.

    When i buy a skid steer i am going to have to buy a trailer. Maybe buying a low profile dump trailer to haul it around might be the smart move to make. It will proably cost me 4k more then a equpiment trailer, however the convenice may be worth it. I'd be able to pick up my materials for the small jobs my self. Where i live, there are quarries and supply yards almost every where. There is always one withing 5-10 minutes of a job. The dump trailer will save me trips to the dump. If i adventually buy a big truck, i could always just sell the dump trailer, they seem to hold their value well.

  7. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    I have a deal with a local trucking company I use for hauling aggregate. A tri axle of base aggregate (approx. 22 tons) costs me $220.00, delivered almost anywhere we work.
  8. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Matt, do you primarily install retaining walls or pavers?
  9. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    I guess i need to talk to every trucking company and supply yard in the area. Seems like it might be possible to get affordable agergate and delivery.

    Thanks for all the advice so far. You guys are really helping me make the most out of my money.

  10. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    Hmmm....it sounds as if you're not including those costs in your prices to your clients?

    We have a medium duty truck with a 15' body and 8 ton hoist, and we still get everything delivered! Some jobs they have to make 3 deliveries of pabers and wall block! Just gotta factor that into the proposal :)

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