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questions about starting a salting biz

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by JML, Dec 23, 2000.

  1. JML

    JML PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 70

    I am really not to big on plowing. in my area everyone and their mother has a plow on their trucks and prices for plowing are so low, i don't know how anyone makes money. but their aren't that many people that offer salt/sand services and its starting to become very popular. I was just wondering about starting next year and was hoping i could get some advice on what to put in my trucks. I have 1 1998 and 2 2000 GMC 3500's with the 350, 4x4, and 4.10 rears. I was wondering what size spreaders i could put in them. They are also getting addtitional leaf springs installed this spring. Also how do you charge by the ton, if so what is the average (i know its different everywhere). Thanks for all of your help..

    thanks

    joe
     
  2. SCL

    SCL Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    This comes down to a number of options and you may want to search previous posts. This has been hashed out pretty well in the past but a quick synopsis from my point of view. On 3/4 tons your pretty much relagated to a tailgate spreader due to the weight. For the one tons you can install v box spreaders . Advantage to a tailgate, still get to use your truck bed, use bagged salt for smaller sites, and less initial investment. Advantage to v box, load with a loader, don't have to reload as often, salt cost 1/3 of bagged price. With a tailgate spreader I'm getting from $.20 to $.30 apound spread this year until I can figure out a better way of bidding it. A friend of mine who does subdiv. gets $65 a ton spread with his V. Seems too cheap but he does OK
     
  3. OBRYANMAINT

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    it will probably be hard to salt and not plow you may search your area for plowers who do not salt and get work subbed from them or some otherlandscape companies i think in the end you will really need to plow to get the salt accts.
     
  4. slplow

    slplow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 594

    You could a 1.5 yd vbox to a 1.8 as long as you are putting extra springs in but most people want you to do the plowing too.
     
  5. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    If you are only using salt,you could run a small V-box 1-1.5 yds on a 3/4 ton,just dont heap it.Salt weighs less than sand,so its not so bad when you fill it.I have a bradford SS V-box on my 3/4 ton LD 89 GMC,it only weighs 400 lbs empty,and if you heap it.itll hold a yard.It handles salt easiy even when heaped,when I use sand,and heap it,you know its there and the E range tires start to bulge,even at 80PSI.I much preffer the 1 yarder to a tailgate,I can load out of my pile with my tractor,its cheaper,easier and much faster than loading from a pallet into the hopper,then having 40 some odd bags in the bed of your truck to dispose of.A pallet of salt is at least 150 a ton,I can buy bulk salt for 60 here,and i can get it for 50 -ish a ton if i get a delivery of 25 tons or more.Those big savings go into your pocket-its called profit,and you'll be able to make a lot more money or be more competetive with lower operating costs.
     
  6. RB

    RB Senior Member
    Messages: 197

    I'm in agreement with the guys when they say you'll inevidentiably need to plow. But if you don't have to plow, get a machine that will handle bulk salt. Here in Pgh. bagged salt is $120/30 80 lb. bags and bulk is $39/ton. I feel if you don't use bulk salt you might find it hard to compete with the guys that plow.
     
  7. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    From what I've seen from the pricing structures we are paying for plowing in New Jersey - the numbers aren't all that low. You can make money plowing in New Jersey at the rates we're seeing and paying......
     
  8. FIREMAN

    FIREMAN Member
    Messages: 50

    YOU COULD PROBABLY GET DECENT WORK AS A SUB TO A PLOWING CONTRACTOR.....ONE GUY I USED TO SUB FOR PAYED 65HR. FOR A TRUCK WITH A 1 YARD OR LARGER SALTER....HE WOULD SEND THIS TRUCK AROUND TO FOLLOW OTHER SUBS WHO PLOWED AND WERE NOT EQUIPED WITH SALTERS...I GUESS THE ARRANGEMENT WORKED OUT WELL FOR HIM.HE ALMOST CRYED WHEN I TOLD HIM WE HAD OUR OWN ACCOUNTS A COUPLE YEARS AGO...OH BY THE WAY HE PAYED FOR SALT...3500 SERIES DUMP 2WD WITH A TAILGATE SALTER USING BAGGED MATERIAL...CAN CARRY 2 PALLETS AND THE SALTER NO PROBLEM...THIS WAS A GOOD WAY FOR ME TO USE A 2WD TRUCK INSTEAD OF LETTING IT SIT FOR THE WINTER....
     
  9. JML

    JML PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 70

    thats what i want to do, is be a sub for guys that plow.. i live in central jersey and the guys i talk to, some of them are getting as low as $30 per hour for a 1 ton truck, how can you make money.. i just want to offer salt/sand services to all of those that just plow..
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    I'm thinking of adding a V box next year, found a supplier that will load bulk Magic salt. I don't have a place to store bulk material, and bobcat is on a site. If I get loaded night before will material clump up, a friend that does salting(regular salt), said material would clump, cloging spreader. Supplier said they are open durring storms & 8-5 daily, haven't delt with them but I'm leary since I haven't dealt with them before. I don't want to be in a position where I need material, and their not open. My friend said I could load at his shop, prefer not to. Bagged material not cost effective here, bid out this fall, purchasing director said his quotes started at $60/ton applied, I was at $160. I know magic will cost me $ 62+tax/ton loaded, haven't ran numbers, to figure on applied cost. Does everyone use their own piles or do you have suppliers that load? how long does 2 ton last in V box?
     
  11. Aspen Snow

    Aspen Snow Senior Member
    Messages: 148

    If you are using Magic Salt it will not freeze up in your spreader, but you can not let the Magic salt get wet. It will wash out the liguid and then it will freeze rock solid.
     
  12. JML

    JML PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 70

    thanks for the responses guys, you see what i mean, no one salts.. out of every member only 9 of you salt. lol.. thanks again..
    joe
     
  13. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    I salt my own acct's. because I don't want that $$ to goto someone else. Also, if I'm salting, It means it's not snowing (enuf to plow), so I am not doing anything anyways!
    I use a walking push spreader, like the small ones used to spread fert. in summer. I posted before about it, but it cost me $20, & earns me $100 an hour every time I use it.
    I don't have any huge parking lots, so it's not that big a deal. I have a Buyers salt spreader sitting in storage; I haven't put it on yet cuz as before, my salt acct's are smaller. Also I don't like adding 3 more feet to the length of my truck just yet for plowing.
    I'd rather plow than mow lawns-faster, easier money. I'd rather salt than plow- easier, faster $$. It's not as dependable, but salting is about the easiest, fastest money I make other than subbing commissions.
     
  14. Greenman2ooo

    Greenman2ooo Banned
    Messages: 107

    To expand on what Yardsmith said, get your own accounts. You will be further ahead. If Joe Schmoe decides to get a salt spreader, you are out of a job if you are relying on his accounts.

    In my area, there is a heck of a market for this service alone! Many competitor's lots don't get anything but a quick plow at best. Conversely, I don't have a lot I don't salt at my own discretion.

    Don't be afraid to ask for plenty of money and talk to anyone who will listen.<b> Follow up on your proposals until they sign or tell you to leave them alone.</b> This is a numbers game, unless you already have the connections from other types of contracting. Just my opinion, but I speak from my personal experience.

    You will get exactly what you put into this, I assure you. If you have gotten nothing, you know you need to knock on more doors, so to speak. Good luck, and don't let 5 people who will brush you off discourage you from talking to the 1 who will sign with some perseverance on your part.


    [Edited by Greenman2ooo on 12-27-2000 at 11:06 AM]
     
  15. JML

    JML PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 70

    for those of you that do salt/sand, when do you decide to go out and spread. how do you write agreements for this type of service? thanks

    joe
     
  16. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    I salt/sand at my descretion,I dont take accounts where they control the applications unless they've been doing it more than me(none yet).If there is a doubt,I call manager of facility,and recommend that it be done-if they dont want it,I write in thier name and time I called and service refusal slip,this helps me in case i was to get sued from a slip and fall.I show the Judge the time,dates,and person who refuesed,I doubt the Judge would find me liable.I pre treat high traffic facilitys when the ground temp is under 32,alos or when it will; be under 32 within the next 36 hrs.Makes clean up easy and prevents ice formation under the snow where it gets packed tight.
     
  17. jaclawn

    jaclawn Member
    Messages: 92

    I tried this years ago, before I got into plowing. I had an idea to be a "supplemental" contractor to guys that only plowed.

    I found that the guys that only plowed, had the accounts that did not want salt.

    No end customer wanted to deal with two seperate contractors, one for plowing, and another for salting.

    I wouldn't want to do this from a buisinedd standpoint either. What if you feel that you can melt the little snow, and the plower decides to plow? I can see conflicting schedules.

    About the only way that I could see this working, is for you to plow and salt the accounts, or for you to obtain the accounts, and sublet the plowing, and do the salting yourself.

    I also had thoughts of having a sidewalk service. I could sub to guys that plow and salt, doing their walks. Problem was that no one wanted to pay the price for manual labor, in the middle of the night, in all weather conditions.
     
  18. CCLC

    CCLC Member
    Messages: 91

    Maybe you should get into the salting business by getting the plow jobs/salt jobs by subbing out the plow portion. There is good money in the salt and you could make some extra money off of the subs plow work.