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the use of heavy equipment for snow

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by sixpixels, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    I have a general question on heavy equipment and snow plowing. We do commercial snow removal, but normally for smaller lots (gas stations, banks, etc). We just picked up a contract for a failry large shopping center and may need to have a backhoe or laoder on site just in case.

    At what point should we use a backhoe or loader? To me its not worth it to pay a guy $150.00 per hr when there is 2" on the ground and my trucks could handle it.

    Any help would be apprecitaed..THX
  2. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    I think the key word you used was "just in case"

    Owning a loader has made my life sooo much easier in snow related work whereas paying someone was really about a wash for me, I didn't really make anything when I hired the work out.

    Paying for big equipment on little snowfall nights doesn't make much sense but finding someone that will run their equipment for you on the bad nights probably won't be easy. The nights you need heavy equipment, so will everyone else in your area - the guy doing the plaza down the street from you won't have time to help cause he's busy. How are you going to transport something there in bad weather? You're really caught in a catch 22....

    Can you justify renting something for the season? Something that can be used at mutiple locations so that you can take some load off the trucks? Seasonal rent is big money but bigger equipment can really get some work done with very little effort, again taking away truck time.

    I've been in your shoes and for the sake of growth and experience, some jobs get done with little or no profit for a year or two until you have enough accounts to really justify the rent or even the ownership of bigger equipment.
  3. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    THX for the help your 100% right.
    Our position right now is we don't have the funds to buy our own machine, and to rent for the season is way to o high. This lot is in a location where even if we did rent a machine for the season we would not be able to use it on multiple locations.

    As for owner/operators transporting it there on the fly your also right. They all want to leave it on site and have it working every storm with a minimum of 4hrs. I understand the cost of fuel and maintenance etc but on a small storm i cant even afford that at 150-200 per hr.

    I think i may try to handle as much as i can with the pick ups and if i have to get a guy in then i will.

    Thx for your help!!
  4. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    lol now that i think of it still need an answer...Lets say i do have aguy that will plow with a loader of backhoe on the fly. What would be the accumulation where this is needed? 6" plus? more?
  5. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    Another thing to think about is even on the little 2 inch snow falls. If your push is say 1000 feet long then your loosing half the snow off the wrong end of your blade by the time you get just part way down your push. Even with wings, or a containment blade the snow fills up your blade faster then you can get to the end of your push. So you will make 5 or six times the amount of pushes. I hope you can understand what I am saying here, but long pushes = much more work for trucks, compared to bigger equipment. It might be a smart idea to either sub out the whole think to big iron, or figure out how to get some big iron yourself. Even if you sub it out, you will need a truck or two to bring the snow out of tight spaces, and let the big iron move it from there, so you can still make some profits.
  6. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    This is my first year using a loader and so far the most we've pushed is 3" over a 8 acre lot. The time savings is worth every penny. I watch one of my subs pushing the long run with a Dodge 2500 W/Boss V blade and within 200 feet it was pushing his truck back and spilling snow on both sides. I came around and scooped it up with the loader and 12ft push box and I got about 3/4 of the way done on that pass before snow started spilling out. I think it takes the place of at least two trucks. Why not just call around to guys who have big equipment and just ask if it can be an on call thing. If it were me and I had equipment sitting there doing absolutely nothing, I would rather have that than nothing at all. You might have to pay a few more bucks per hour big during a big storm its nice to have some muscle. Or heck, even a larger skid steer even if its just for hogging out some big wind rows or stacking the piles. I'm surprised my NH LX665 does as well as it does with a 8ft skid steer blade and wings. I thought I would have issues with the pushing power b/c its only a 52hp 6k lb. machine but so far, so good. Just a thought.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  7. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Rc2505 and Brian- very good points thx for the help its greatly appreciated... i think i willsub out for 1 loader.
  8. cold_and_tired

    cold_and_tired PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,246

    In my first few years, I would bring in a loader or backhoe only to clean up piles that the trucks had made. Each machine that I brought in only worked for a day. That work more than payed for the days rent on the machine. I never used them as front line machines because they only had buckets and weren't efficient when pushing.

    A few years ago, I started buying pushers, snow buckets and plows for skid steers. Mind you, I don't own any skid steers at the moment, I rent them on an as needed basis from my local Cat dealer.

    When the machines arrive on site, they hook onto their attachments and go to work. This has been so efficient and profitable for me that I have sold all of my trucks (except for my daily driver in my sig) and rely on the equipment to do 95% of the workload.

    Unless you can go out and buy a pusher, I would say that you only need to bring in equipment to move truck piles. I start considering bringing in big iron when the forecaster call for around a foot of snow. I know quite a few excavating companies that don't mind putting their loaders to work during the winter and they give me really good hourly rates.
  9. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Cold and tired- not a bad idea..didnt think of it like that. So do the work with the trucks and bring in loader to move big piles on cleanup only.
    I have a case 1845 skid steer and i was thinking about enclsoing it and buying a psher for it also.
  10. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    How big is the lot & the layout play into the use of equipment. I bought our first loader 2 seasons ago, just got 2 more this season. While they are big dollar expenditures they are also long term investments as we only use them for snow. I would never really on another contractor to come in durring a heavy snow & only on a heavy snow to plow your clients lot, they have bills to, if you didn't account for this in your pricing then shame on you. I either call my subs & staff in or I don't, we run together, thats why I have subs waiting to work for me, I pay well & don't believe in "cherry picking", I had it happen to me when I started out & didn't think it was right...nor do I now. For what it's worth as well we have bailed out both clients (at sites we didn't do for them) & other contractors durring heavy snows & none turned out well (got stiffed other claimed we damaged a curb, when 18" of snow was no a lot we had never seen)...so we no longer do it, unless its pre aranged & after ALL our stuff is done.
  11. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    RLM- the square footage of the lot is about 350 sq ft.
    Im not trying to squeeze peopel out of money. My questions are moe so due to the fact weve never done a lot this big so i wasnt sure when we should vs should not hire in the big guns.
  12. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    What your defination of "fairly large"? How many acres? Why did you just pick it up now? Did the property owners have a problem with the other contractor?

    And just an observation, if your bidding these sites and can't afford to have a loader come in, then in my opinion, your not charging enough (or your working for a national)..... big lots = big equipment

    and a FYI you can buy a good used loader for the cost of a truck payment.... a loader will easily take the place of 2-3 trucks.....doesn't matter if you don't use it in the summer. The cost savings you have by putting one to work in the winter clearly makes up for the payments over the summer.... plus is a depreciating asset... good for your taxes.... just another angle to look at...... HIH
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  13. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    350 sqft ????you sure thats 10'x35, a small drive
  14. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    sorry 350,000 sq ft
  15. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    So your talking roughly 7 acres. Is it one large lot, or multiple smaller lots ? Is there specfic spots for snow ? or can it be piled (stored) in multiple areas. Anything over an acre we start finding REAL efficient to bring our loaders into. I'll give you an example, last season my guys called laughing, they pulled into a bar we plow, the guy was plowing a resturant 2 buildings down, doing the front of his building, they were laughing because they had finished a 1+ acre lot, wth lots of cut in work.......in 15 minutes, 1 truck w/vplow, 1 loader w/14'Artic he was still working on that 10K ft lot, then had the back & side to do. I have found taking the loader down the road works well. Personally we haven't taken (& wouldn't) on 7 acre lots with trucks only, but we get significantly more snow than most.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  16. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    yeah its def a big lot, but there alot of building on it. Also there fine with multiple snow piles. I have a couple local guys lined up if i need heavy equipment plus i may just buy a pusher for my skid steer.
  17. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    so is it 350,000 of parking lot or "lot size" of 350,000 ft2, & say 3 acres of parking. My guess is that with a pusher on your skid, a good size SNOW bucket & a truck with a decent blade (V, expanding prefered, at least wings) you'll be fine.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  18. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    that is the Lot size
  19. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162


    IMO you would be fine with just trucks even as long as you know that you will have to plow with the storm.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  20. sixpixels

    sixpixels Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    yeah thats what my thought was originally...