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Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by born2farm, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    Ok not sure if this is the right place to post it and this may not get many responses but I need some advice and this is the only place I have to turn. Ok hear me out. I am currently just turning 17 and have been plowing now for three years. I grew up around plowing and my dad and three uncles all plow but now mostly do sub work. I plow only residential due to my age and equipment. I currently have a 2003 Honda Rancher with a 50in plow that I use on residential driveways. I also own half of an 8ft Protech pusher for a bobcat that is mine if I have the work. My truck is an older F150 and in my opinion is not capable of handling a snow plow. I am looking to expand my business and grow quite a bit. Of course the big factor is age. I will only be able to plow one more winter and then I will be off to college for the next two winters. That is where the problem comes in. What is the best way to grow, go to college and still be able to run my plowing business? I know the biggest option here is to get the jobs and then sub them out for a couple years until I can return and plow for myself. The other option is to buy a truck and set it up with a plow and a salter and try and have someone trained to run my truck while I’m off at college. I’m hoping to have some commercial work lined up, but it may not be my best bet. In my service area here is a list of the larger commercials I would consider tackling. A Family Dollar, a local school that is trying to do their own work this year but I don’t think they know what they’re getting in to, three of four smaller churches, a Drug Mart, Rite Aid, Kroger and several smaller gas stations and chain stores. If I needed the work I could always sub out a truck to a large company close to me just to keep a little money flowing in. So I guess if you were in my situation what is the first step you would take in order to grow your business? Oh and I left one big point out. I plan to graduate college and return home to help manage the family farm, so I will basically have winters off to plow.
  2. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    Focus on school for now. Plowing biz can wait till you get back.
  3. 3ipka

    3ipka Senior Member
    Messages: 138

    You can do both, I too was in a similar situation two years ago. I'm currently in my second year in university (19 years old) and decided to stay local for school so I could live at home/work as a sub for my families businesses. The only thing is sometimes the two get in the way of one another and in that sense school takes the priority.
    Hope this helps
  4. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    JohnnyRoyale-what do you adivse that I do currently? I have some jobs lined up and I am not sure if I should keep bidding work when I am just going to be dropping it completely in two years.

    3ipka- I wish that I could do as you said but the classes I am looking at taking are only offerd at a coupld schools. I will be around an 1hr away. In an emergency I could come home and plow. I would also have all of december off for Christmas break.
  5. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    **back to the top**
  6. deere615

    deere615 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,919

    Really the easiest way to do it is stay local with school thats what I do, what specific classes are you looking to take? Most schools have a variety.
  7. shoeman68

    shoeman68 Member
    Messages: 67

    Go to school and take plenty of business related courses. You can NEVER take too many. Especially, job costing, accounting etc....
    Sell your existing accounts to a local company and make a little money on the sale. There will be plenty of opportunities out there when you finish school.
  8. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    Alot can change in two years.

    For the time being keep doing what your doing. Keep picking work up too...you may have something to sell someone in a couple of years, you may not, but in the meantime you are creating an income for yourself. :drinkup:
  9. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    you guys all have valid points and will take the advice.

    deere615- i will be going to a special ag tech school so the ag classes such as crop production that i will be taken are not offerd at any local colleges.

    As of right now I am trying to train another kid my age to help me cover the residential side of things. He will probably not be going to college and instead he will be working for a very large construction firm that lays off equipment operators in the winter months. Hopefully I can buid up enough work to keep him busy and still make me some money and keep a good reputable name for my business. My biggest worry is taking on work now then having to drop it in a couple years, possibly damaging my company image.
  10. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    Not sure what type of school campus your attending, but put school first.

    I knew of a kid with a jeep and plow at the u of m years ago who did pretty good with all those tight little lots, frats, and sororities around campus... don't think he ever flipped a burger.

    good luck.
  11. fernalddude

    fernalddude PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,106

    At your age I would get the schooling done first. Adding equipment second contracts come and go there is no loyalty anymore its just about price. If you can keep your overhead low your price will be lower than most. Repair, replace, upgrade equipment so its ready and able to return to service. Clean, paint, rebuild on your budget.
    The problem with having someone else run your props is that you are not there. Nobody can do it as well as you or take care of the equipment because you own it you know the good and bad parts. When you return to the industry with all good equipment and paid for you overhead is less. Most of my equipment is over 20 years old and is as good as new and I dont owe anybody for anything so I could park every rig for the season an not loose a dime most contractors need a return on investment and that adds to overhead. Working on your equipment is your own return, your time is free and it will pay in the end. Get the schooling first snow will fall each year and somebody has got to move it around.
    As for cash flow if you have the contracts and a sub trashes the rig not only are you out the repair bill for the rig you could be still responsible for the props that wont be done that added stress and going to school is a heavy burden. Just my 2cents good luck
  12. redman6565

    redman6565 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,411

    school first, snow business later. you dont want the stress of running a business until you are at least out of high school bud and take it from someone who started at 14 like you and have been doing it for 9 years now
  13. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    Well guys thanks for all the usefull responses. The way it sounds I should focus on school and just pick up a couple odd plowing jobs here and there while I can. I know the stress of running a business is very hard but thats the kind of thing I love and cant wait till im hopefully overseeing a multi truck operation. I will repair and replace what equipment I have now and over the next couple of years build up a strong company portfolio so Im ready to pound the pavement after I graduate. Hopefully the residential customers I have now will understand that an education is key to living in this day in age and hopefully I can get some of these jobs back later on. Once again thanks a ton guys.
  14. Tiflawn

    Tiflawn Member
    Messages: 45


    Go to school for cocktail mixologist, sell the farm and learn Jamaican mon!
    prsport Better yet , the hell with everything and just move to Jamaica.

  15. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    Ok I have done some more thinking about this situation and here is my low cost idea. Next year I would like to heavily flyer an area of about 300 higher end homes and would be very happy to get a 10% return. All are with in driving distance on the quad so I could easily take them on with what equipment I have now. Plus it is a lot harder to cause property damage with a quad then a truck. If I get my current employee trained up to par he can run these accounts while im at college. I know most of you are going to say to wait untill after college to get into this but I am just worried that competition will only get tougher and I will be behing the game. I have so many options and still dont know what to do.
  16. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    I didnt read your post but my answer to your title...."how to get started", dont get in! find something else to do. Every swinging d!ck has a plow anymore so prices are down and will be for quite awhile.
  17. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    Well if you would have read my post you would see that I have been plowing for 3 yrs but I am looking for advice on a certain situaion.
  18. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    OK junior, take it easy. Drop out of school, sell the little side gig, quite the farm thing and sit back and collect a nice fat paycheck from the govt. every month along with free health care, free food etc. J/K
    If its your passion to do plowing then try every way possible to make it work. If I learned one thing after quitting my f/t job to do this and landscape full time is, it's very tough to run a business any size if your not there. Sooner or later the service is going to suffer. If you dont see yourself doing this in 5-10 years then focus on school.
  19. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    Well I love plowing snow and it is something that I plan to do as long as possible. But farming is my main focus so that is what I will be going to school for. Like you said if you are not there to oversea the operation it is going to suffer on the quailty side. I guess I will just plow what I can and then see where I am at after I graduate from college. Since the whole service loyalty has pretty much went out the window for the cheaper price, I am not to worried about the accounts. The accounts that I have now and have had since I was 14 hopefully understand my situation that I am going off to college and hopefully some of them return to me when I come back. You said that if I dont see myself doing this in 5-10 years then to focus on school. Well I do see myself doing this in 5-10 years but I will still focus on school for now because it is very unlikely that I will ever quit farming or that I will beable to generate enough income off plowing to live off of it.

    I didnt mean to sound snobby, I was just pointing out that my post was not about me getting started, rather about me trying to work my way up.
  20. show-n-go

    show-n-go Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Could you dad and uncle's tend to the accounts that you have when you leave? That would be ideal, especially since they already sub. Sounds like yo uhave a good plan.. School is the best choice you can make.