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  • Landscape Contractor Experience

    Alright, well for starters, I run part landscaping service as of right now, go to school full-time, and work elsewhere part-time. I am a very busy man but I hope next summer to go full time with the business. Atleast for the summer. One major goal is to really kick it in the a** and start getting some contractor experience such the goes beyond mowing grass and cleaning gardens. I am talking about ponds, outdoor kitchens, retaining walls, and so on. Right now I am reading landscape construction books when I am not studying for horticulture degree stuff. Do you guys think it is good to get some experience under a contractor or just keep reading and 'attempt' to do it for the first time at someone's property? It is just really hard trying to find the niche experience along with all the other stuff that comes with it. My wife wants me to work with contractor to gather some experience, but if I am doing my own thing next summer, why should I spend my time making someone else rich?

  • #2
    but if I am doing my own thing next summer, why should I spend my time making someone else rich?
    In short the damage you can do can put you out of business so fast it will make your head spin, excavation may look simple but you have to know how to read grades, look at a project and see in your head the end result.

    80% of my companies work is Landscaping and Excavation.

    There are many community colleges that offer heavy equipment courses, that is a good place to start, you might get hired on with a company however it is doubful they will let you run the gear without some type of training.

    As for making money at it, it took me two months to make out company profitable, we now have fourteen employees, started the company in April and have enough work until fall when things pretty much shut down here.
    Andy
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

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    • #3
      Do you guys think it is good to get some experience under a contractor or just keep reading and 'attempt' to do it for the first time at someone's property?
      What we see a lot of other new business owners do is experiment with construction projects on their property first. Have you considered this? What's your thought on it?
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      • #4
        Steve,
        Yes, I guess that would be a good idea huh? In fact I just got through taking a class that teaches me how to make out a residential landscape plan, and some of the stuff I came up for my own yard was kind of groovy. I have a long back yard in the city. Our property goes back approx. 250'. I have drawn up plans to put in a third level coming down at the backend of the property with retaining walls with like a little rock garden area, a 10ft. circular pond, a hot tub, dining area, butterfly and wildflower garden, and some arborvitaes for privacy from the neighbors.

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        • #5
          That would be really cool! You would learn how to do it. You could take pictures of it to help you sell your services and you would improve the property value of your home.

          Also, why not make your property a local landmark with a fantastic landscape? Make it the talk of the area and that could help you get more customers as well.
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          • #6
            Picfarmer.. Just curious what your underground insurance costs you? What do you have in the line of excavating equipment?
            best wishes lawncrafter

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            • #7
              Picfarmer.. Just curious what your underground insurance costs you? What do you have in the line of excavating equipment?
              best wishes lawncrafter
              For Insurance I carry five million is libality insurance, cost is around $2,600 a year.

              For landscaping equipment I have a John Deere 17D and 35D excavator, a 2305, 2 - 2520 and one 2720 tractor's all equiped with loaders and back hoes, I have every attachment John Deere makes for landscaping, three wood chippers two can run on the bigger tractors, the 8" is a stand alone pull unit with a 26 HP Kabota diesel.

              I have a pile of gear but this is the primary units for landscaping, we will add a 50D excavator in April of next year and possibly a skid steer.
              Andy
              Halifax, Nova Scotia

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              • #8
                Nice fleet Andy! Ive operated large hoes and dozers for years and am hooked also. Those mini excavators are so much fun and actually quite easy to run. They reminded of running the cranes for prizes at the Carnival when i was a kid... but running one and operating with feeling are quite different for the beginner though I see more and more younger fellows getting very handy with them. It was a good trade to learn for me. Another area that interests me is the new directional drilling machines.... good to hear your doing well

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=lawncrafter56;55863]Nice fleet Andy! Ive operated large hoes and dozers for years and am hooked also.QUOTE]

                  Bobby, Send me one of those Hoes!! LOL
                  Artie Crowley
                  www.marketingholders.com
                  sales@marketingholders.com

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                  • #10
                    Nice fleet Andy! Ive operated large hoes and dozers for years and am hooked also. Those mini excavators are so much fun and actually quite easy to run. They reminded of running the cranes for prizes at the Carnival when i was a kid... but running one and operating with feeling are quite different for the beginner though I see more and more younger fellows getting very handy with them. It was a good trade to learn for me. Another area that interests me is the new directional drilling machines.... good to hear your doing well
                    Thanks, I have two excavators on a site doing a 850 foot drain, I ran into bedrock at surface yesterday so we had to get a company in to blast, I know the owner of the company quite well, it left some massive pieces of rock which I would not move with my gear, he had a Deere 650D with him as they were on route to another site, he let me use it for half an hour to move these rocks, OMG what a machine 465 H.P. 75 Ton's with a massive bucket with 25 ton lifting ability, the power was insane, told him I wanted one then his reply changed my mind...$325,000+ anyhow this made my day!
                    Andy
                    Halifax, Nova Scotia

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                    • #11
                      Was this the machine you used?



                      It must have been a real kick to use.

                      Could you ever see yourself getting any larger equipment like that? How much do they charge per hour to have that on a job site?

                      Also I was wondering, can you use a jack hammer attachment on an excavator to clear away bedrock or is it better to just blast it?

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                      • #12
                        Was this the machine you used?



                        It must have been a real kick to use.

                        Could you ever see yourself getting any larger equipment like that? How much do they charge per hour to have that on a job site?

                        Also I was wondering, can you use a jack hammer attachment on an excavator to clear away bedrock or is it better to just blast it?

                        That looks like an older one Steve but looks to be the same size, it was a blast to use.

                        Personally I have no interest in owing big machines like that, it's a very focused market that you would be after and I like to work outside the box.

                        The jackhammer attachment in your image is the same as what this company used, only 5 or 6 times larger. I talked to Deere about getting one a month ago for another job as they bring in $250. an hour, However Deere and google search showed me they are desperate hard on your equipment and prone to brake on a regular basis.
                        Andy
                        Halifax, Nova Scotia

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                        • #13
                          Experience is indespensible.

                          There are several ways to get it too. Landscape contractors, pond installers, university campus landscape departments, etc..

                          Without experience, nobody can offer good customer service when beginning a business, because there is nothing valuable to serve, even with a guarantee.
                          M. D. Vaden - mdvaden.com

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                          • #14
                            Experience is indespensible.

                            There are several ways to get it too. Landscape contractors, pond installers, university campus landscape departments, etc..

                            Without experience, nobody can offer good customer service when beginning a business, because there is nothing valuable to serve, even with a guarantee.
                            I have hired staff from community colleges that teach heavy equipment courses, not one was worth a dam, couldn`t read a grade if their life depended on it and screwed up on several drains, not sure what they teach, give me three or four days with someone that know nothing but wants to learn and I will give you the best excavator or loader operator going, it took a month to get everyone trained but they all know their stuff well.

                            We ran three tree crews this summer with three industrial chippers I bought it took a few days to show them the ropes then I moved on, I started this company in April mainly for the fun of it and a chance to work with my son who goes to university, it will gross around 400,000 this year and I pill push it over a million next and then probably sell and do something else. I have done this with 5 other companies, it`s simple.
                            Andy
                            Halifax, Nova Scotia

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                            • #15
                              Nice work! What would you like to do next?
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