1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

Becoming more efficient vs just throwing $ out the window?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by WilliamOak, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. WilliamOak

    WilliamOak PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,988

    would like to pick the brains of some of the well established, sound businessmen on here...
    When you guys are figuring purchases and changes in production where do you draw the line between becoming more efficient and just throwing $ out the window? For example, this spring I'm looking to up my material handling ability. My options are as I see it to
    1. Upfit a retired schwans delivery (will be cab and chassis when I get it) with a dump bed and plow (8611 prob) and be into it $8k-$10k tops everything done how I want
    2. Dump trailer used, $3,000-$4,000
    3. Another pickup with 8' dump insert

    Obviously the truck gives me the most flexibility, and for what I'll end up with it for is pretty cheap IMO. Year round income but way higher insurance than a pick up or 1 ton. Plates are only $80-$100 difference between a 14k dump trailer and truck, so I consider that more of a wash.
    But the question I'm really getting to is at the moment I don't see that truck being busy 4-5 days a week, sure it will be rollin most of the week during clean ups and mulch season but then until leaves it will most likely sit (assuming not as much install work, rather plan for the worst and hope for the best) since I don't see the point in "wasting" a 4500-5500 series truck on a maintenance crew. Sure the added flexibility, effeciency, year round income etc etc could be worth dropping the $ vs. towing a dump trailer around. Both will pay for themselves in 1-2 seasons (obviously less on a dump trailer), I suppose it's more or less is how do you guys figure when you are throwing out more $ to fill a need than you needed to?

    Sorry that this is more of a lawnsite question but there honestly isn't a ton of guys on there who I think will give valuable input from experience rather than what dave ramsey says..

    Thanks guys,
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  2. Moonlighter

    Moonlighter Senior Member
    Messages: 643

    Out of the options given along with your reasons or thought processes I would choose option #1. I am assuming now that the GVWR is much higher than the one ton pickup, I would say up to 26,001 class if I am not mistaken. So you will be able to haul bigger loads, or less loading and or time back and forth loading of materials in all seasons. I see the plan is to put a plow on this truck, what about a salter as well. What type of properties do you service year round, resis, commercial or both?
  3. BossPlow2010

    BossPlow2010 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,069

    You should Join SIMA, use (scott's ((Grandviews) name for free beer)
    They have a ton of information. And the Sima buddy program is good too.

    In response to your 1,2,3 list; I prefer to purchase a truck and then have everything on a trailer. If a truck breaks down (which does happen :( ) You can hook a trailer up to anything within reason of course.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I like the dump trailer.Insurance is cheap on it. Can carry more them a pickup with dump insert. Also Boss is right,if a truck goes down you can have any other truck pull your trailer.
  5. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    If snow removal is on your to do list, the dump trailer isn't the best choice. You can do it, but it's slow. Otherwise it's a great choice. It costs very little to have it sit on site for a week while it's being loaded. And you can carry more material legally/comfortably in a a dump trailer than truck.
  6. WilliamOak

    WilliamOak PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,988

    gvwr on the 5500 is about 2x a 1 ton (i'd be buying an "older truck" before you could get a srw with a 12k gvwr lol) I could haul 10+ yds of mulch in the truck and hook up to the enclosed for spring clean ups rather than running two tucks with one carrying the maintenance trailer and the other with the dump trailer (currently only have 2 pickup trucks)
    Plan would be to put a plow on the 5500 and sub it out for a year unless I can get into larger commercial work where that truck will really shine.
    Right now maintenance is predominantly residential but plowing is 80% commercial

    Insurance is the big thing steering me away from the 5500, INS on a dump trailer is nominal at best.
    Exactly, The 5500 would be a fairly strong year round asset, not to mention they run on LPG (8.1/allison) and last spring when I looked into this there was a federal rebate of $.50/gal for running an alternative fuel source with LPG being about 1/2 the cost of gas. Plus I could market the living snot out of "environmentally friendly" (actually have 2 propane mowers also..)

    Basically, does anyone think I'm selling myself short by going with the "safer" and "cheaper" dump trailer to handle my current needs over dropping the extra coin on the truck that does cost more to put on the road, but doesn't require another truck to pull it anywhere?
  7. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    Not sure how much you salt but a larger truck really cuts time on salt only events. So much time is wasted running back and fourth with smaller trucks. A dump trailer is much easier to load. I think from what your saying I'd go with a dump trailer as they are easy to sell and you can upgrade to a truck at anytime.
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Did you sell the dump in your sig?

  9. WilliamOak

    WilliamOak PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,988

    Yup no longer have that truck
  10. NoFearDeere

    NoFearDeere PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,724

    I also just thought about it after we talked the other day....You need a CDL for the 4500 or 5500 when its loaded. Didnt think you did till I talked to my buddy who is the truck enforcement officer for Dist.16 ISP. Medical cards also. I hate this state! Thumbs Up
  11. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    How does that work? An F-550, or 5500 shouldn't be over CDL range when loaded.

    I live in IL also, and I've never read anything or understood the laws to where you needed a CDL or medical card with those types of trucks, unless they've changed the laws again on me.

  12. WilliamOak

    WilliamOak PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,988

    I think you need a c class or B class, look on the back of the IL license, says good until 16k gvwr or larger. Alone and loaded you'd be fine with a B or C (whichever one it is) but hook it up to a trailer rated for over 7k and you need an A class I believe since the combo is over 26k. Crete will probably chime in soon enough though.
  13. mike thunder

    mike thunder Senior Member
    Messages: 110

    It seems you're not to concerned about the winter operation side of the equation, so i'll leave that out of the mix. A dump insert handcuffs the truck, and for that reason alone i don't use them any more. A mid size dump is expensive to operate and has limited use, and in your situation it seems that you don't have any of that limited use work available to utilize it properly. A well equipped dump trailer seems to be up your alley. Spend the 10k on the trailer and get something nice, like the tri-axle low deck model with the equipment ramps built in, the barn style doors, the extended high sides, the built in tarp roller, etc. They make all kinds of attachment for them. Even if you don't need all of the extra features at the moment you'll have them later if you need them and you won't have to screw around trying to upgrade dump trailers. You can get 7 good years out of a quality dump trailer.
    We have:
    Full enclosures for our dump trailers with leaf vac attachments.
    Used our dumps when the lawn equipment trailers have been down.
    Salt spreader attachments available to use if the situation arises.
    Used our dumps to transport rented equipment, saving trailer rental fees.
    Used them to our advantage in respect to their size, maneuverability and impact on their surroundings over mid size dumps.

    Side story:
    We used a propane fired hi lo to pull one of our dumps through a huge cold storage warehouse that couldn't have contaminants (co2) inside to reach a court yard at the center of the complex and hauled out 40 yds. of mulch for replacement along with various other hardscape components.
  14. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Gotcha. An F-450 would be fine then or a 4500 as most are around 16k for the GVWR, so that's what confused me.

    With my C3500HD, I've got 16K plates and a 10K equipment trailer to keep me in line with the licensing.

  15. WilliamOak

    WilliamOak PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,988

    Not so much that I'm not concerned, I'm more or less trying to expand without overextending myself. If I were to give that 5500 a route (plow larger places then salt) and it were to go down I'd say a pickup would have a hard time picking up the slack. Seems like for now what will work is to grab a dump trailer Since lawn 2012 is getting closer and closer, if the need arises for a larger truck I will go ahead and purchase one. Hopefully it does!
  16. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    i have always enjoyed our dump trailers, we are never hauling huge amounts of materials, so they work for us just fine. They also allow me to haul my skidsteer etc in the back. As far as if you use them for hauling snow, put large sides on it and go to town, it is highly unlikely you are going to put 10 000lbs of snow on it even with extended sides. The one thing I will recommend is that you run a charging cable to the dump trailer directly from the battery, that way if you are using it a lot, the truck charging system can keep it charged up.
  17. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    I too was in your position about 5 years ago when I started.

    I opted for two trucks. Reason being, for the landscaping that I do, was to have one smaller truck that got reasonable gas mileage for the grocery getting (originally an S-10), estimating, and light landscaping work.

    I then bought a dump/plow truck to take the abuse of the heavier install work and throwing salt in the the winter. This left the option open to put a plow on my smaller truck as the snow work expanded. Basically my dump hauled around 250tons of material last year.

    Now I have an F-150 that I plan on putting a plow on for residential work, and have now hired on someone to help out. So, with two vehicles, I can send him off to do work and I can go do other work in the other truck.

    Not only has it worked out, but I can still get a small dump trailer (being careful not to exceed the pulling capacity of my F-150) if I need to, but isn't necessary.

    The other big factor is that it allows me to have a back-up truck in case one fails.

    I followed along with the Brickman truck you originally had, and personally I wish you hadn't of gotten rid of it.

    As for the Shwan's truck, I'd skip it. Sounds like too many miles, the drivers abuse them, and it would cost you way more to up-fit it to suit your needs. If you decide to get another truck, I'd be patient and wait for a good deal on a truck that is closer to what you really need. Don't drop a lot of money into customizing a truck that you really won't get a return out of. If you are willing to spend the money, buy one as cheap as possible and drop the money into the mechanics of the truck.

    As a comparison, with the truck in my sig, I've got about $11,500 after purchasing it and fixing it up, and had all the equipment I needed when I bought it. The way used truck prices are right now, I'd probably be able to sell it for about 16k or better. :eek:

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  18. WilliamOak

    WilliamOak PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,988

    It was time to replace that truck, something a bit newer was in store.

    The Schwan's truck I could have set up with a 12' or 10' elec over hyd dump bed/hoist, hitch plate etc and be out the door installed for $6k before paint on the cab and misc stuff. Add a couple grand for a 9' plow tops or a little more for an 8611 etc but for the $ that truck should bring good $ hourly and be a huge asset once the snow side starts to really expand more. But that will come in due time, for now I can get away with $3k-$3500 for the trailer, then when the time for a 5500 comes the truck/trailer will be one mean combo.
  19. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    In addition to the charging cable, I had mine setup with two switches in the cab for dump/lower. Just need an extra cable on the truck and cable. When hauling snow I chained the tailgate at about 2 o'clock. Hit the up switch while backing up to the dump site. Time it right, and some diesel in the bed;), hit the brakes and the snow slides right out. Hit the down switch and roll out.
  20. Triple L

    Triple L PlowSite Fanatic
    from Canada
    Messages: 6,078

    How so do you figure? I think my dump inserts are the best money I've ever spent... Use them everyday of the summer season... Protects the truck and aluminum ones don't even take away much capacity or any appearance