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To plow or not to plow?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Bob_McNaughton, Jul 17, 2001.

  1. Bob_McNaughton

    Bob_McNaughton Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    I'm currently debating on what truck to purchase and plowing issues. I can get a incredably sweet deal on a loaded 2001 Dodge 2500HD truck, at invoice with another 2k in rebates. But my wife is choking at the $500-550 a month truck payment when there will be no income coming in from the business until I start it next year. (the car we will be replacing with already costs $200.00 a month, so its a net increase of 300-350 a month)

    However, after talking with a few people, and looking around. It appears that a really nice 1998 Dodge 1500 i'm looking at will be more than enough to handle my trailer/mower towing applications. I can grab one of these for under 17k, with light payments in the area of $290.00 a month. (only 30k on the odometer and only another $100.00 a month).

    So my question is this. Is plowing worth it the added expenses of a HD truck, plow gear, accessories, salt machine and all the BS? Or would I be better sticking to mowing? Our winters have been real spotty around here for the last 20 years or so.

    I don't plan on plowing this winter, as I won't be starting my business until January for lawn cutting. My original plan was to work winters in sales, during my lawn cutting downtime. Making a solid 2-4k a month during November, December and January while I await mowing weather.

    Would a fullsize extended cab 1998 Dodge 1500 w/30k on OD be sufficient for my needs if I don't intend to plow? Will I lose cutting customers if I don't plow or do most customers handle their own driveways or deal with plow only companies?

    Any advice would be very much appreciated, i'm trying to make a truck decisions this week. Of course, I want the new one, but $550.00 a month right now is pretty crazy - especially if I don't get into plowing that much or at all.
     
  2. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    That is a business decision, and from reading your post, it sounds like you've already made up your mind. Good luck in the LC business. Perhaps you can evaluate your customer base in several years (once established) to feel out the potential to allow you to head into snow control.

    BTW - a 1/2 Dodge will plow snow very well.
     
  3. Bob_McNaughton

    Bob_McNaughton Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    I haven't made up my mind, seriously.

    Im glad to hear a 1/2 can handle small residential plowing without too many issues. This is surprising to me! Good news indeed.

    A 1/2 will save me big bux on payments.
     
  4. MATTHEW

    MATTHEW Member
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 47

    plowing 2001!!!

    Hey, guy, I was in the same boat last year. Hardly ever snows here, but when it does, we get some dumps. Lots of my customers have brought it up in the past, but I said "maybe next year" But last winter I was workin' pretty hard at a factory and brought home $550 every 2 weeks. My buddy was telling me in november he made $3,000 per truck plowing in the several snows we had. Well I could have worked part time, plowed p.t.-made more and rested more too. Well I took the plunge.
    IT JUST HAD BETTER SNOW THIS WINTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  5. plowking35

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

    I dont believe a 1/2 ton x cab dodge can accept a plow. In fact it will take some doing to find a dealer that would install one.
    Dino
     
  6. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,031

    SnoWay

    My recommendation would be to get a SnoWay if you're going to go with the 1/2-ton. They're great plows, and they're not as abusive on the truck. Take a look at my web-site Snow-Source to see mine. I opted for the steel version, but you can save 20-lbs if you go with the lexan. I do some severe commercial plowing with mine. Not saying that's a smart thing to do, but it has worked very well for me. The new models are supposed to be really nice. They have a new pump that is supposed to be faster than the one in mine.

    Good luck with you decision!

    -Tim
     
  7. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Commercial Plowing

    I have been pushen snow and droppen sand for 16 years now, and I still don't have it all figured out.

    First of all if you are only going to have 1 plow truck, trade your 1/2 ton for a 3/4 or 1 ton. Here is another thing, you talk about a loaded 2500 costing ya 500 bucks a month. Ya don't want a loaded plow truck. You will trash the inside of it after a few storms after being out in tons of slush. Every truck I have is a basic truck, cloth seat, ac, am/fm radio, and auto trans. Now power windows, locks, mirrors, ect.

    If you don't want to do that, then I wouldn't start plowing.

    You can make money plowing, this past winter i made enough extra money plowing to buy a 97 Ford Aero Max tractor and 40 Ton trailer.

    However you will have to have a different winter out look.

    1. Sleepless nights
    2. Getting up at all hours of the night.
    3. No Long term trips, no vacations to Florida
    4. Driving on the road with crazy people
    5. Watching the weather channel for hours.

    Ok your location also has something to do with it. I live in Maine, it will snow at least 10 times a year. I know every year my plows and sanders will get used. Your location may not be the case.

    The other thing Is I am not a landscaper, I am a utility contractor. For me winter is my slow season, we used to plow to keep the cash flow up. Now we plow because we are maken some mad money.


    Geoff
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2001
  8. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I used a '90 Dodge 1/2t 4x4 last winter with a Fisher 7.5' plow. There is no way I could see using a 2wd (either 1/2T or 3/4T) unless you have lots of ballast and only plow on level lots. Two things to be careful - don't let it overheat and always come to a full stop before shifting to/from reverse. Dodge seems to be notorious for burning out transmissions.

    You may be different, but I would have a hard time justifying $550/mo payments to buy a new 2500HD for pushing snow.
     
  9. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    When I finally kill my current plow truck I'll be looking for a K1500 short bed, regular cab. I don't have as much time in this business as some of the folks here, but I would not feel at all undergunned with a half ton pickup behind a plow.

    Granted, I have several plow setups at my disposal, a K2500 with a 9'1" vee plow and 2 (3 by this winter) S-10 shortbeds wtih 8' straight blades. The 2500 also carries a vee box spreader and we'll have a tailgate hopper on one of the S truck this winter and a pull plow on the other. Our heavy spreader is a 5500 GMC with a 5 yd body and undertailgate spreader, if all goes as planned it will also be carrying a 10' Western plow this year.

    If you take the added production of the vee plow out of the equation, and you need a 3/4 ton to carry that one, my favorite plow truck would be one of my S-10s. The limiting factor in any plow rig is how much snow you can carry in front of the plow before it either goes over the top or around the leading corner. With identical blades (8' straight Sno-Ways) there is NO practical difference in plowing capability between an S-10 and a K2500. Been there, done that.

    With that said, the difference between 1500 and 2500 is a moot point. Get what you can afford, maintain it and go plow snow.
     
  10. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,031

    Another thing to consider... many parts on a half-ton are MUCH cheaper to replace than on the 3/4 & 1-ton trucks. And as far as abuse goes, don't drive like a mad man and you'll be just fine for a long time.

    I think one of the "weak" points on half-tons is that the stock tires are not rated for larger loads. I had BFG Mud-Terrains on my truck that are rated "E" for load. I believe it's somewhere in the vacinity of 3000-lbs. per tire @ 60psi. Maybe consider upgrading to heavier-duty tires, to help handle the plow a little better/safer. Then... add some ballast to the back-end a go plow some snow.



    -Tim
     
  11. Rob

    Rob PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 306

    I think that the answer to your question mostly depends on the snowfall in your area. If you get a lot of snow, have to do some stacking of snow etc. I think that the 1/2 will not be enough to allow your business to grow. On the other hand, if your average snow fall is only a coule of inches a few times a year, you never have to worry about pushing the banks back etc. the 1/2 ton wil be more than enough.
    Also, I think another key contributor to your decision will be as others have already mentioned. Do you want to take the winter 'off' ? Do you want to go on vacation ? Do you want to stay up all night in some 'strangers' driveway ? Do you want to watch the weather channel / check internet weather sites continuously ? These are questions you have to ask yourself, then decide whether you want to plow or not. Once you have that decision, you can go ahead with your truck decision.
    Lastly, I don't know what type of business plan you have laid out for yourself. But depending on how much business you have lined up, you may / may not want to take on the additional payment during the business startup. Consider working with a subcontractor / friend to do your plowing for the first year or so until you can afford the larger truck more comfortably. This way you can still offer the service to your customers and not have to incur the higher monthly cost yourself. Granted, you probably won't get to put all that much of the money in your pocket from the plowing after you pay your sub, but it saves you a higher payment for 9 months of the year. Just a thought.

    Good luck with your business,
     
  12. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    One thing about having a vacation during the wintertime, it is possible for a snowplower to take an one week vacation. Just have someone else who plow and know you well and they can plow for your customers if it snow during your vacation. I know a few people around here who did that and it works out well. You still would need to pay some of your profit to that person who plow for you, but it is better than having customers buried under the snow.
     
  13. ADLAWNCUTTERS

    ADLAWNCUTTERS Senior Member
    Messages: 212

    hello i have been plowing here in buffalo for almost 20 years,thur many storms. i have 2 new f-350 superduties diesel's with western vee blades. i would start out slow a 1/2 ton will be fine for driveways. a 3/4 or 1 ton would be better depends on what you plan on doing. tell your wife this. a truck with a plow can make you nothing but money, plus a tax deduction. a car doesn't make a cent unless your a taxi.if you don't want to get your own accounts this year ,you can work for another plowing company for atleast 25.00 per hour min.i think the best overall plow you should buy should be a western pro plow. thier very tough and you can get parts all over. even if you don't plow for money you can do you own driveway..good luck....
     
  14. Jay ALC

    Jay ALC Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    ADLAWNCUTTERS has a good point. This year I am going to be a subcontractor for a local plowing friend along with taking care of a few of my own. Also, around here a person would expect to get at least $50.00 per hour subcontracting. Hope I helped.
     
  15. plowking35

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

    He will still have to find a plow retailer to install a unit on that truck. A friend of mine has that same truck, and none of the 4 local dealers would install a plow on that truck. He would have had to buy cash and carry or used. Once that truck has a plow, all warranties are void as well.
    Dino
     
  16. JD PLOWER

    JD PLOWER PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 751

    TO PLOW OR NOT TO PLOW, THAT IS THE QUESTION.

    Bob, you have several things to deal with on this question. First, Dino maybe correct by saying that you may not find an installer for any type of plow on that vehicle, but if you can find someone to help you install it yourself, it should not be all that difficult. Myself and two friends installed my V-plow and I'm not a Fisher tech. It wasn't easy and some trial and error was necessary, however it was also a v-blade, if your installing a straight blade it should be less time consuming and complex. I would also recomend what slimjim said and look at a snowway. The warranty issue is a little tricky, does this Dodge come with any warranty ? If not, than this is basically a none issue. I can't speak for snowway but Fisher does warranty parts on self-installed units , for up to two years. Labor is not covered . You also asked if plowing is all worth it, to me that depends on many things like how much snow does your region get in an average year ? Can you make enough money doing residentials only to justify the expense's ? If not do you want to get into commercial plowing ? Lastly do you enjoy plowing itself ? Well good luck with what ever you decide .
     
  17. eggy

    eggy Member
    Messages: 71

    Another truck you might check out is the chevy 1500 1/2 ton. On the new trucks they do offer a snow plow prep on 1/2 tons.