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View Full Version : Dead trees saved me! It all started with a machine!


stumpsandmore
10-21-2012, 08:30 PM
Hello,

It all started with working a factory job that was earning me less than what it was costing to support a family of six. The last job I had was six months before and they had gone bankrupt. Fortunately, it was a sales job that paid very well and we live fairly frugally after having been through some financially difficult situations in recent years...

I have a friend who was now a CEO of a non-profit organization. He left the tree service to get back to the non-profit culture.

We've known each other for about seven years, and I guess I was complaining a little about the work, bla bla. He asked me if I had considered starting my own business.... hmmm. Only every day at the factory. But how?

He had an old stumpgrinder, Vermeer 665a monster. He told me I could use it to see if I like the business. If I was still interested, I could buy it from him.

It was the break I was needing.

I put in my notice at work, got my license, insurance, website, and a backup plan.

He gave me a crash course on some friend's stumps. I started going door to door (which I had been doing for the past four years), anytime I saw a stump (I call it stump-hunting).

After having a web-presence, and word of mouth has spread, each week has filled up. Three months ago I added Tree Service, and I'll take down most trees under 60 ft. Anything more than that I have a friend in the business that I subcontract to.

I joined this site since I found an old youtube video on pricing snow plowing/removal. I'm really a newbee, but I've have a handful (about 8) customers who are interested in signing a contract (and they are almost all on the same street!)

So here is little about me.
Lewis Meyer
Stumps And More
http://www.stumpsandmore.com

Apex Lawn & Landscape
10-21-2012, 10:41 PM
Thats great man, glad everything is finally working out for you. Website is great, to the point , love the customer feedback on the main page. I might do that! Your logo is very cool too. Best of luck with all you do. Looks like youlle be just fine.

stumpsandmore
10-22-2012, 02:53 AM
Thanks for the feedback! Site is always needing a little work. Not sure whether to keep this "feel", or something a little more formal. A work in progress.

I'm actually an IT geek that likes the outdoors. We're not all like Norman in "Cubical Golf" (fun game btw if you have A smartphone) The IT field has gotten pretty fierce with all the outsourcing. Anyone who has taken a couple of classes is "qualified", and the fact I've been working with computers at a program level since 1984 (In Jr High I was helping the Teacher by making programs for him to use in class). But I don't have the certifications to "qualify" me.

The learning curve for starting a business is pretty steep, but its been successful. I had enough "techy" to get me going and on google "page 1", I remember the first day it happened. I shouted "YES!" And woke the baby.

I'm looking forward to being a student here. Still struggling with pricing with snow removal,o and wondering whether to include lawn services in the spring.

The "More" part of the business always leaves room for expansion.

Lewis.

Steve
10-23-2012, 12:58 AM
Hi Lewis,

Welcome to our forum!

How have you liked the stump business so far? Would you like to focus mainly on that and grow it as a niche service or do you see it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things?

Also, have you checked out the snow plow estimation calculator (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?p=43299#post43299) here? It should help you in getting an idea on how much it is costing you to perform that service.

stumpsandmore
10-24-2012, 03:59 AM
Hello Steve,
I started doing stumps primarily. Just started driving around looking for stumps. I had to do that while I was waiting for an online presence. I had some 4x6 club flyers made and I used a hole punch with a rubber band. I also had some vistaprint cards made.

Things were going very well since everyone dislikes stumps in their yard, and I provided full service stump removal (debris removed, filled with screened soul and seeded). It's hard work, but I enjoy the outdoors. I quickly realized that about 20 to 30% of my customers were wanting additional trees removed. But I turned them down, since I wasn't insured.

I decided to get tree insurance and my insurance tripled. At least I could start taking down manageable trees of 20-30 ft or so. It was well worth it. I have gotten braver over time and experience. I'll now take down trees up to about 60 ft. Maybe a bit bigger if it can just be dropped and cut up. If it gets to 80-100ft I leave it to someone who has the right equipment and climbers. I have developed a relationship with someone who has 30 yrs experience that I sub out to.

I started got my website in March, but started doing business late April, 2012..

Thanks for the link! I might start a little slow this season. However, I've got about 8 contracts all on one street. So I may expand if I can get some more clusters. I came in a bit high to start with, but quickly negotiated down. I told people if I could get more in one location I could save them some money... That seemed to do the trick for that block.

Steve
10-24-2012, 01:35 PM
You are really doing great so far! Keep up all your marketing and I am sure you are going to have a lot more growth stories for us!