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New business in snow removal

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by MUoffroader, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. MUoffroader

    MUoffroader Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I hope to find some good input here.
    I own a company doing general handyman work and have always wanted to get into the residential snow removal side of things. I live in central Missouri so our show is minor, and it all usually melts within a week. I have an 01 suburban 3/4 ton 4wd and a Toro 24" self propelled snow thrower. I want to start picking up clients to do driveway and sidewalk cleaning. Many companies in town will do large parking lots or streets but not up to the clients door. I believe there is a huge market for it. Any input would be great.

    I work in a machine and welding shop, so I do a lot of fabrication. I would like to build a 7.5' plow to go on the front of the suburban to do minor residential driveways-no commercial lots or anything like that. The plow board would be 1/4' aluminum and I have a plethora of 3/8 x 1.5' mild steel to use for the frame. The main plow frame would have six uprights and a strap on the top and bottom. The mount would attach in two pre existing holes in the frame of the truck and be lifted by a winch. All of the sidewalk work would be done with the 24" toro and good ole' elbow grease.
    Questions:
    -Will the 1/4" aluminum on top of the main frame be strong enough?
    -Would I need two pieces of the 3/8 strap for the bottom of the blade? Should I make one replaceable?(I have no idea how long it would take to wear a plow blade in my circumstance)
    -Do I need power tilt, or is manual locking tilt good enough?
    -Any suggestions/tips on good, reliable snow shovels? Any better method to do residential sidewalks?

    Thanks it advance for all of the help.

    I've attached a few pictures of a similar blade I built for a small tractor at work and my sketches for the truck blade.
    My design ideas
    [​IMG]

    Previous blade I built.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,929

    Just gunna throw this out there, why don't you just buy a used plow that already fits your trk?
     
  3. MUoffroader

    MUoffroader Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I would buy a decent used plow if I found one for the right price. I enjoy fabrication and I have the tools and materials to do it with. All the used plows I have found are around $2,000 and I believe I can make one for around $200, which is a whole lot less risk in my eyes. Also, since I don't have an established snow removal business I don't want to be sitting on a $2000 plow that I only made $500 with.

    Thanks for the feedback!
     
  4. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    I'd suggest getting a few clients using your snowblower & a few shovels first, then after a year if you still want to go deeper into the industry, then look into getting a plow.
     
  5. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,929

    Not saying you can't, but what if something goes wrong. How many mounting points on the trk frame are you going to have? What is your lowest ground clearance? Manual angle? If I think I understand, you want to use aluminum as your winch plate? That will bend.
    Cutting would need to be replaceable.
    Not sure I understand what a top or bottom strap is?
     
  6. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,929

    Another thought, if you bought the plow you could try and sub for a company. That could pay for the plow in a year or two
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  7. MUoffroader

    MUoffroader Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    BC Handyman-Thank you for the input. I hadn't really considered just doing in with snow blower and shovels. Any input on the best snow blower? Or snow shovels? And any good or desirable walk behind salt spreader?

    Dieselss- I understand that precautions must be taken and failure is much more likely with a fabricated item. I would have two mounts to the truck frame with 1/2" bolts. Lowest ground clearance of the truck or the plow design?
    I might not have explained correctly-the entire plow frame would be made of 3/8 x 1.5" mild steel. The two "straps" I talked about would be a piece of that 3/8 material at the top and bottom of the plow. The 1/4" aluminum would be used only for the plow board, bolted to the 3/8 material of the frame.
    Manual angle-tilt on the blade instead of hydraulic. It would require getting out of the truck each time I wanted to change the angle of the blade. That is how the snow blades on our tractors at work function.
    I don't guess I understand the idea of being a sub for a company-do most commercial companies contract out if they don't have enough trucks to get their jobs done?
     
  8. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,929

    Subcontractors.....
    I own a plow company, I don't want to buy another plow truck for this year. I ask if anyone with there own truck with plow would like to work for me. I will pay you X amount an hour. You will plow these accounts that I have set up for you to plow. I need them done by this time. And at this dept.
    If you take the job you will have to provide, workers compensation insurance or a waiver, and company/plowing insurance on top.of your regular auto insurance.
    ...that's generally how "subing" works
    BCs idea was good as well
     
  9. kimber750

    kimber750 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,598

    Two half inch bolts will never hold up to a 5000# plus truck ramming into stuff. Remember a plow is basically a piece of equipment we bolt onto a truck and go ram crap for hours on end. Now add in you will driving around with this liability hanging off the front of your truck. Not trying to down play your fabrication abilities, just point out that building a plow for a truck is much different than one for a tractor. If you feel that you really want to build a plow I suggest looking at actual plows and coping them.
     
  10. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,213

    X2.....
    If you were just planning on doing your own drive then build one, if you plan to plow commercially you need to buy that was engineered to do the job and have the ability to buy replacement parts rather than making them.
    If you worried about not being able to cover the cost of a plow then do as BC mentioned. It's a low risk and economical way to get started.

    If you're having a hard time finding something local that's in good shape you may have to go on a road trip.
    For what you're doing this http://denver.craigslist.org/for/4688516080.html
    would be a good fit, decent price, not obsolete so parts are still available and since you're handy with a welder you can make your own truck mount.
     
  11. Flyboy77

    Flyboy77 Senior Member
    Messages: 126

    The two types of insurance quoted (commercial auto w/plow and general liability will probably run you $2000 per year. Stay away from the plow if you don't want to go with large investment.

    Ever shoveled a driveway for someone else before/after school, do that with your shovel and snow blower but do more of them quickly and charge more. Get agreements with homeowners of when you should come (2")to shovel or salt. Also can call other plow companies and ask if the have sidewalks they need salted or shoveled. Most parking lots also have sidewalks and steps and the plow owner might rather not get out in the cold or could plow more jobs if he has you shoveling.

    In Missouri, you may get more chances to salt than plow depending on temp changes. Ask some of the local plow companies (check yellow pages for the companies, still used for low tech ads seen by many) where they needed help without a plow last winter and meet that need.
     
  12. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    He not looking there is a lot plows on craigs list in Columbia trust me Im a craigslist junky I flip a lot of stuff from craigslist
     
  13. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,503

    Sub's is the back bone of every large company. Without them, they wouldn't be where they are today.
     
  14. Flyboy77

    Flyboy77 Senior Member
    Messages: 126

    Use a craigslist app for a wider search(add multiple cities), being halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City and then widen your search term ("plow") and put titles only. There are def lots of deals if you skim frequently, like AntlerArt06 said.
     
  15. MUoffroader

    MUoffroader Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Flyboy and Antlerart-I am on craigslist daily and make a good part of my living by flipping items, so I know how to search craigslist.

    I am really liking the idea of subing for a company-I didn't understand there was that much of a need for it, and that is why I come to a place people with experience to ask questions.
    So is the problem with fabbing your own plow the reliability? The lack of replacement parts? The factor of the unknown (will this thing just fall apart and shatter)? The reason I ask is because many are suggesting buy a plow and fab a mount, that still involves fabrication. And btw-I originally planned bolting the plow to the frame of the truck with six 1/2" bolts and then making the up/down pivot point further out. What size hinges (bolts) do most truck plows use for their up/down and side/side pivot points?
    Thanks for all of the input, both positive and negative. I appreciate it.

    Also, would it be worth it to buy these http://kansascity.craigslist.org/for/4663531181.html . The guy said he would take $600 and I could build a mount and then sell the second blade.
    If I'm going a route like this, what is the best pump/controller? Or is that a question like chevy or dodge?
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  16. kimber750

    kimber750 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,598

    If you are considering trying to be a sub a name brand plow setup would be best. The contractor will base pay or if they will even higher you by what equipment you have. Never been a big fan of the SnoWay plows. In my mind not a commercial use plow.

    We when say build a mount we mean to copy the design made for that particular plow. As for the pivot point all plow are a bit different. Meyer I believe is around 5/8", basically a hitch pin. Fisher uses a stepped pin roughly 1".
     
  17. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,929

    Those are just the moldboards not a whole plow. I'd sprint from that
     
  18. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,213

    Kimber thx for adding clarity, in addition the mount is very simple geometry to recreate and straight forward to build.
     
  19. MUoffroader

    MUoffroader Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Ok, I think I got it on the truck plow-buy a good used one and sub for a company or don't worry about a truck.

    Another question-what is best for sidewalk/driveways? I have read several posts and seen many different ideas. This will be only me most of the time, and no major capital for a skid steer. I have access to self propelled walk behind units (BCS tractors, really handy). Would it be worth it to get a power broom for the front of one of those? Most of our snows are sub 2 inch with a couple in the 2-6 inch range. I have the 24" Toro two stage for the bigger snows, but it doesn't work too great in the little stuff. Would it be worth it to build a V-plow for a walk behind unit? Or use a small tractor (I have access to) with a V-plow?
    Also, what is best for spreading salt on driveways and sidewalks? Spread by hand, drop spreader, broadcast spreader?
     
  20. kimber750

    kimber750 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,598

    I will start be saying I do very few driveways, mostly friends and family and all larger driveways over 200' long. Now my truck even sucks on these larger driveways. I need a football field to turn around. So IMO a small maneuverable vehicle with good visibility would be ideal for drives. I also recommend a nice single stage blower. They are light, fast and clean the surface very well. Tractor requires loading and unloading and pulling a trailer or ramps for a pickup. Do you really want to deal with that?

    As for salt we use broadcast spreader but we are doing large commercial lots. For any of the smaller stuff I do the owner salts. Again these are friends or family and I dont normally even charge them.