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Same info wrong guy

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by diggerman, Sep 13, 2000.

  1. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    Why is it that everytime a new guy asks a question reguarding the ability of a certain piece of equipment to do plow work it seems like they get the same answer.Usually it is some big over priced truck that involves major year round over head to maintain,that will strap them for cash and limit them to one piece of equipment.Most of the plow trucks I own are 3/4 and 1tons and did not cost me more than $6000 plus plow,I can out fit 3 to 4 trucks for the price of a new Ford 550 or Chevy 3500.I have very little trouble with my trucks and most are daily drivers for my employees.It seem that the standared answer reflects very little knowlage of the condition or potential of a askers bussiness.I often sit and scroll through many of the forums here and see very little concern for cash flow,or the true cost of owning new equipment.Even if you can afford new equipment that does not necessarily justify buying new,unless of course it is an ego thing. Personally I drive a new ford ranger I like it and will get another newer truck next time but that is my daily driver I have no other vehicle I use to haul my kids,run errands,etc.So can someone help see the light reguarding all the HOO-HA over new as a standard response to the "what do I get questions".
     
  2. Doug406

    Doug406 Member
    Messages: 65

    equipment

    well one reason for using RELIABLE NEW EQUIPMENT would be that I secured a large shop this year (near a 20,000 contract because the last contractors were not showing up on time.
    Could it be the junk $5,000 1982 chevys that broke down? Well, that is what the supervisor said. "What kind of equipment do you run, is it new?" "We will be willing to pay for quality, instead of the rust buckets the last guys used !.
    Thats one reason.
     
  3. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    Doesn't sound like a equipment problem but a maintenance and schedualing and finally a perception problem.I have a 85 blazer it never misses a snow and is often requested over the newer stuff so I'm not buying that as a good reason to buy new. I hired help one year his truck was a new Dodge with new blade,he missed parts of three snows because he was in the shop. New trucks do not assure no troubles.
     
  4. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Mentor, Angel
    from Chicago
    Messages: 239

    I agree with you Diggerman. I had a 1985 F250 that I bought as a temporary vehicle in a snow storm, because my Bronco had a broken axle. I ended up driving and using that 1985 for 4 years and sold it for what I paid for it. The guy I sold it to is still driving it 3 years later. The main reason I sold it is, the clutch was killing me in big snow storms and I wanted an automatic. I looked all over for a good used truck and they wanted almost as much as a new truck, so I got a new 1997 HD F250 for 2,000 more than one with 10,000 miles on it. New doesn't mean it won't break down, but I've been lucky and it's been a good one. :)
     
  5. fivestr19

    fivestr19 Junior Member
    Messages: 25

    i think buying a new truck for plowing is just peice of mind that it is less likely to break down...i bought a new truck because that was u know what your getting, if u buy a used truck u never know what might happen. The transmission might be one hard storm away from giving way, not to say this couldnt happin with a brand new truck but it is less likely.....On my tuck i have the 5 yr/75000 mile warrenty, which i have allready had to take advandage of.
     
  6. iowastorm

    iowastorm Senior Member
    Messages: 358

    I agree with you both too. One of the biggest problems of getting started in business is going into debt or creating substantial overhead (trust me, I know this from many unfortunate past experiences). When revenue decreases because business slows or an unexpected expense comes up, it can be a killer of new businesses. Last year I bought a new Chevy 1 ton dually dumptruck and plow for over $30K and the payments were over $700/month. It was one of the stupidest decisions I ever made. As I think back, $30K would have easily bought 3-4 trucks and plows; not in perfect condition, but with a little mechanic work, they would run fine and get us thru the winter. Sometimes you have to borrow money to expand and operate your buisness to maintain cash flow. However, it sure is alot easier to sleep at night knowing that most or all of your equipment is paid for. I think the other thing that the guys are bringing up is that the older Chevy and Ford engines are the easiest engines to work on and fix as opposed to today's high tech engines and also makes buying an older truck more plausible.
     
  7. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I can't agree with buying used. One of the reasons the F 550 is recomended so much (on this forum) is it can haul a v-box sander leaglly.

    I have bought one used truck in the past 6 years, and the truck is a yard truck. However when it comes time for me to replace my wheelers i will condsider a 2 year old truck, only because my wheelers sometime sit a day or two hear and there, and maybe a weeks at a time in the winter. However replacement of these trucks will not be for a long time because they are all 92-95 Ford L 9000s.

    I perfer to buy new only because i know what i am getting. Also i trade trucks in 2 or 3 at a time every 5 to 6 years, so they stay fairly new, why? Well my maintmance cost is lower than an 85, all i do for maintamce is, tires, oil changes, fuild changes, and sometimes a ball joint or two. I can trade in a truck 5 or 6 years old a still get a decent trade on them. I have never had a transmission fail, or blow a rear end, or any major break down because the trucks have stayed fairly new. The only problems i had during a storm in 16 years are, a bad joystick controll, and had to replace a battery.

    Also because of the nature of my business excluding snowplowing, I have contracts from major companies for 5 or 6 years at a time for utility construction, service, and maintmance.

    Also diggerman, i think you may have hit on a touchy subject when you mensioned cash flow. I think that most of us on this board consider that personal information, and like to keep it tou ourself. Judging by the post i have read over the past year, it sounds like no one here is really buying more than they can afford.


    Geoff

    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 09-15-2000 at 01:55 AM]
     
  8. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Well, I'm in the "good used" category with my trucks. So far that has worked for me. No payments, which I like. Not that I would not like a new truck every couple years but it's just not in me,, or in my checkbook. I figure I can field two (at least) older trucks for the price of one new one. And paying attention to how they run and maintaining them seems to have worked as far as breakdowns. Only time I've had a truck lay down during a storm was last winter when we lost the heater fan motor on the 91.
     
  9. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    I guess in response to what has been said the main reason for my post was that for people like you Geoff who has an established business can justify year round the owning and using of newer equipment. But many of the people who post here who are just starting out in business get the standard response of "Go get a Ford 550 its really the only thing that will plow snow effectivly"when I know good and well because of how the question was asked, and frankly because it was asked at all, that the amount of experiance that this person has in the snow removal business is very limited(I never intended for anyone to divulge their cash flow it is not nessecary).The last thing they should be buying is a $40,000 truck,if someone has spent the time plowing they know what will work for them.Rarely do I see a response of" a good 3/4 ton pickup w/plow thats has been inspected by a professional always is a good starter truck.It frustrates me to see responses that are geared toward peoples personal businesses rather than what is in the best interest of the person asking the question,I too am guilty of this,just trying to point out something we all need to be careful of
     
  10. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Oh i agree for starting out a 3/4 ton is a good truck. You can put a v-plow on it, the only draw back is it's really not ready for a sander with out some suspension mods ( it will work, but the weight balanced better after suspension mods.. I told snow to get a 3/4 ton when he buys his first truck.

    However the difference in cost between a F 250 and F 350, isn't very much all things considered. I would recomend a 1 ton pick up over a 3/4 ton, for the reason that, it will handle a v-plow better as well as a 9' blade. Also a 1 ton can take a v-box, and not require any suspension mods. So i belive a 1-ton pick up may be a better truck to start with, because it has a greater potential.

    a 3/4 ton used to be my standard pick up. I used to buy F 250 HDs like Erics all the time, and still have some. However in 97 i did also buy a F 350 pick up. I did notice a big difference between the two pick ups for plowing.

    Also in 97 i leased an F 250 HD for two years, because i needed an adition plow truck, and wasn't sure how long i would have a snow contract ( and i didn't want the expense of buying one more truck that year). Anyways i put a 9' diamond blade on the truck, it had heavy duty front and rear suspension, so it was set up to plow. Anyways that truck, is the only one i have ever had problems with, in 30K (2 years) it ate 2 sets of ball joints. The F 350 stood tall and proud, and has never ate a ball joint, it now has 59K on it. Needless to say i turned the 97 in, the good thing about it is i got a lot of spare plow parts. When you lease from ford with a plow, you own the plow at the end of the lease. So i put the blade on my kubota loader, and kept the other stuff ie frame kit, wiring harness, ect as spare parts.

    One thing about the Ford F 250 HD, is the turning radius is very big. You need an 8.5' blade is you plan to plow a lot of curvy areas.

    I will say that a pick up is good to start with. However if you have the cash to spend, the Bigger trucks just have more potential long term. I would just hate to buy a pick up this year, and next year need something bigger, then you have to trade it in. When you trade in with in the first two years of ownership, is when i belive you are throwing away money ( this is just based on the numbers i have gotten in years past, i have found trading after 5 or 6, is a good time to trade.

    Sorry to make such a long post, and i have no ax to grind, or problem with anyone. This is just how i see it.

    Geoff

    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 09-15-2000 at 01:47 AM]
     
  11. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Well I have to agree with the used section. I have an 84 k-20 that I paid 2500 for last fall, and that plowed as well as my newer ck 3500. It is used everyday and runs great, but Its not the truck I want to plow with. If someone asks what one truck to buy, I will say buy used. But if they are looking to upgrade, then new is the way to go. Depretiation, and write offs are a good way to justify the new truck. I am also looking at an 88 f-150 with plow for 700.00. Its needs little work, and will be a good back up ride.
    Dino
     
  12. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Dino, buy a ford?

    Has the world gone upside down. To be honest with you, if i saw a 700 dollar 88 F 150, i would buy it two. Use it as a back up or a shovelers truck. When you find a steal like that, there is nothing wrong with buying used. Thats how it worked last year when i bought the 93, the price was a steal. I just can't see spending 2K less than new for a truck that is a year old with 12K on it.

    Geoff
     
  13. SLSNursery

    SLSNursery PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 140

    I agree with Geoff

    We used to run older trucks all of the time - 1980s to 1994. But, even with regular maintenance, the breakdowns that occured were more costly than making regular payments on warrantied trucks. I was having problems that just don't occur on new vehicles. In 1994, I bought my first new F-250 Pickup - I still have it, and it runs EVERY day of the year. I know exactly what is wearing out on that truck, what it has cost me, what it has earned me, etc. Again, compared with the old ones, it made sense for me to begin purchasing new vehicles. Now, we buy new, one year old new on the lot, or one year old used traded in. In the latter two situations, either the dealer, or someone else takes the initial loss for depreciation.

    It is important to stress, especially to some of those starting out, that many people run what they can afford, until they can justify the purchase of new vehicles. Others jump head first into something that has a payment they like. I have spent many snowy nights on the ground in and under older trucks fixing them, or working on the plow hook ups. To me its not worth it. However, at that time, I didn't have the work, or the experience to justify purchasing new vehicles. Each person needs to assess their position and capabilities. Time and experience has led me to believe that even with the purchase of newer trucks, I am pacing myself to run them for 5-6 years steady, then make an educated decision to keep them working, keep them for backup, or trade them in.

    A lot of times on these forums, guys are asking the simple questions like, "what's the best ...", or, "who likes x brand". Many folks should be asking, "How do you know when you can afford to buy new", or "when did you decide not to keep fixing older vehicles", or "how much money do you invest in equipment just for snow, to yield how much return". If we spent a few minutes addressing these concerns, each of us might be able to make better business decisions. Personally I am still tweaking our systems.
     
  14. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Ummm, Dino, an F-150 is a FORD! What ails you young fella, you been puttin' recreational weed in your linguini or something? I just told my wife about it and she says it musta been some BAD weed!
     
  15. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    Its Ok Dino we know that Chevys never get that cheap.I got one that cost me $450
     
  16. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    I prefer to buy new and renew with new iron for these rearsons:

    1) Image. We offer a top notch service and we equip ourselves to ensure we serve and are seen by our customers to be professional and "recycling" the money that they pay us.

    2) Reliabilty - We have had experiences like Geoff - only one battery and the rest of the problems were plow related. Did that reliability come at a cost - you bet, but pay me now or pay me later... as the saying goes.

    3) Tax breaks on depreciation.

    4) It is my experience that those who run the beaters are also the ones who cut rates and are not long-term players. In a way, I want to send a message to my competition that we are long-term players who do it right, so don't screw things up. Many people do not know the difference between being profitable and having a business that is cash positive. I aim to be profitable.

    5) Safety - newer trucks have more safety-minded equipment - see number 6 below.

    6) The most important. I figure I'm not going to live forever, so I will spend what I deem to keep my living years comfortable while doing what I like.

    We have 2 - 2000 model 3/4 tons with Boss vees. The third 2000 is my wife's F-150 with her 5 gear, so it is a play truck only.

    To Diggerman's original point about recommending new and expensive equipment for newbys, I have spent considerable years (19) building up this little business and I don't necessarily want to encourage someone to buy an '82 chevy and an old, floppy Meyer plow only to find out he just reconfirmed rule number 4 and is working my neighbourhood.

    Carry on - with all due respect

    John - looking towards 20 Years as a profitable (and cash positive) enterprise.
     
  17. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    Why so black and white I do not remember any of those responding reguarding their used equipment as beaters.I am sadened to find out that anything I have that is over ten years old is a beater,I have been impressed with the durability a LACK of trouble I have had.The ony truck I own that has had any major trouble in the last 6 months has been my 99 Ford Ranger and it had so much wrong with it they had to keep it longer than normal.Image could be a lagit point but personally I am more impressed with a well maintained older truck,Anybody can go buy a new truck to look good, keeping an older truck in ship shape takes a special dedicated type. Im not saying one is better than another but image is not a good reason.As for tax breaks ,they are nice but they in no way equal the monitary hit you take in the first two to three years of ownwer ship of a new vehicle and thats why everyone is leasing.As for point 6 Im all for it, this is the reason I drive a new truck,my original statement was geared toward newbees to the business who to often are being wrongly directed to only one option.
     
  18. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Just because a truck isn't new doesn't mean it has to look bad. We've got an 88 and a 91, the 88 was painted two years ago, I'll get another year out of it. The 91 needs paint bad, (GM Peeling Paint Syndrome), it will get new metal and paint this fall, when I would otherwise be twiddling my thumbs. As it is right now, neither truck will lose value any further, there is a bottom line on the value of a running, inspected, 4 x 4. I may have to deal with a transmission in the 88, OK, $1800 for a GM 50,000 mile warrantied unit, installed. About the cost of four payments on a new one. I can live with that. Now I'll grant that my ego would love to have a new ride, but my checkbook doesn't really like the idea. There is other equipment that will give me a better return for that money. Oh yes, it's not that we don't have anything newer, my son bought a 97 K2500 which is our primary plow truck. On the other end of the spectrum is the 71 5500 that I spent last fall restoring. I'm not in the trucking business, but I do need a dumptruck for mulch and other materials, as well as a spreader. I've got less than 5 grand in waht is (now) a nice looking, 19,500 lb GVW truck with central hydraulics and easy to work on.

    It works for me! Interesting observation, around here it seems that the guys who keep trucks long term go GM product. The guys who say they have no trouble with Ford are the ones who trade every 2-3 years. If you're going to keep them 'til death do you part the wide interchangeability of GM parts makes a huge difference in how you see things, I guess.
     
  19. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    The thing is, if i wanted to i could keep one of my Fords as long as anyone's chevy, people do it all the time. If i wanted to spend the time ( in my case probably hiring a second or 1/2 time mechanic, and spend the money on parts. However i need my trucks read to go, everyday, and they get used hard every day.

    There is nothing wrong with keeping a truck long term, and i plan on keeping my F 650 and bigger at least 10 years.

    Geoff
     
  20. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Hers the other thing, I WILL NOT PUT AN EMPLOYEE IN A NEW TRUCK, why he needs to earn that right. I worked my *ss off for my new truck, so he ride in the old ones till I decide to drop another 30k on a new truck. Next if he is going to beat something, let it be the ford(thats the real reason I bought it).
    A paint job, and lettering makes any truck look good.
    Howver I will take the new trcuk veryday for me, I earned it.
    Dino