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Newbie Intro....

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by MichiganMark, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. MichiganMark

    MichiganMark Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Hey all,

    My name is Mark. I stumbled across this forum while doing some research on plows/plowing. Fantastic forum!! I've been surfing it for a few days...joined earlier this week. Was able to answer some questions and found a number of things that I had not thought of. All of this is much appreciated.

    I live in West Michigan (mid-state, just south of Grand Rapids). After 18 years of loyal service, I was unexpectedly fired the day after Christmas. No warning...zero clue....completely blindsided. I held the GM position at a Pest Control company (A locally owned franchise of one of the "biggies" in the industry). I wore a number of hats during this 18 year stay, including sales and doing the dirty work.

    I'm in the process of getting my ducks in a row to come out swinging with my own show this spring. I'm looking to incorporate seasonal pest control (spring, summer, fall) with some lawn care (weed/pest applications...no plans for mowing). My interest in the snow plow industry is to supplement during the winter months.

    I own a '10 Tundra, 5.7, SR5. I bought it new and she's paid for. Any input that you folks could provide would be much appreciated. Based on what I've read...maybe a Boss plow, and plan on lifting at least 2" in the front. Looking for constructive input here...I've put a budget of $5K for this into my business plan. Lemme know if I'm in or out of the ballpark here.

    I am not looking for the "pot of gold" here....and low-ball pricing is certainly not my thing. The general consensus and vibe that I've seen on this forum seems to parallel my thought process here. I think that my background in customer service, pricing for profitability, and garnering the right clientele, will help me get off the ground and succeed. The most important thing....at least as I see it....is that I have the willingness to listen/learn, and make adjustments based on the direction of those that know.

    Again...I'm not looking to just throw a plow on the front of my truck and slap a sticker on the door right now. I don't have plans to hit the snow with my own rig until next winter. Just trying to do as much ground work as possible now....knowing that It's going to be a learning process as I go.

    I have plans to reach out to some local contacts....I have a few....for sub-contracting and a possible ride-a-long or three now. As I'm a newbie....no experience....I'm interested in staying safe and doing it right.

    If you have any input....type of plow for my truck....what to expect....anything else....I would greatly appreciate it.

  2. JustJeff

    JustJeff 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,481

    Welcome. You sound well informed and realistic. Hope you do well. Here's a link that (I think) for a plow that I think would be perfect for your truck! http://www.meyerproducts.com/plows/superv.aspx. You'll get many more opinions here as well, you've just got to decide what's best for your needs.
  3. JustJeff

    JustJeff 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,481

  4. mercer_me

    mercer_me PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,371

    I personally would stay away from any Meyers product. If you are looking to do any commercial plowing I think either a 7.5' Boss V or VXT or a 7.5' Snow Dogg VMD would be good plows for your truck. If you put a set of wings on either of these plows I beleive you would be close to 9' wide so, that would be perfect for commercial properties and would also work well for residentials. As for a leveling kit I personally would go with Bilstein 5100 shocks. Bilstein 5100 shocks will lift your truck about 2" and it will handle the plow better than a 2" spacer kit.
  5. hardwoodcd

    hardwoodcd Senior Member
    Messages: 253

    Based on your post I think you'll be just fine. Everyone has an opinion on what they think is best as far as plows go here. I'm partial to Boss products. Good luck.
  6. mercer_me

    mercer_me PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,371

    I found a guy on a Toyota forum that is running an 8'2" VXT on his 2008 Tundra double cab 5.7. http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/114-2nd-generation-2007/327813-any-tundra-plowers-out-there.html

    This is what he said-
    "The plow weighs 785lbs. But with the way the truck handles it you couldn't tell."
    "We added a leveling kit. If I remember correctly it droops just a hair over an inch when I lift the plow."
    "Both the truck and plow are great! Had them both in for a preseason inspect and found no issues after 2 winters. No sign of any ball joint wear either. I do plow some drives, but the majority of our work is commercial. Restaurants and churches make up the majority of our work. Really looking forward to this winter, just put a new set of BFG ATs on the truck!"



  7. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 862

    Welcome! :waving: We can tell you lots of things, but the most important lessons will undoubtedly come the hard way. Plow type, is personal choice. I love Fisher but they're so darn heavy. I'd consider a sno-way for that truck. You have a business background so you already have the hard part done. Get a plow ASAP, hope it snows and get some practice on your driveway, and maybe some friends and neighbors, and before you know it you'll be a pro. Go make some money already!!!payuppayup
  8. JustJeff

    JustJeff 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,481

    That Boss is brand spanking new. No way he's been plowing with that for two years.
  9. mercer_me

    mercer_me PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,371

    He took those pictures when it was brand new in 2010. He updated that thread two seasons later and said how well the truck does.
  10. MichiganMark

    MichiganMark Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Thanks guys. I sincerely appreciate the feedback. We are working on the $$ end of it right now.....I like the suggestion of getting the plow on and doing some "practicing". Need the cabbage first.

    Thanks for the link to the '10 Tundra Thumbs Up

    Again...we're just trying to get as many hurdles and bumps addressed or thought of prior to getting this thing rolling. I know that there will certainly be misfires and mistakes, but I want to reach out to as many sources that "know" that I can, prior to taking the leap formally.

  11. scott3430

    scott3430 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,008

    Welcome to Plowsite! Sounds like you got a good plan to have a successful plowing business.
  12. RUJusten

    RUJusten Member
    from VA
    Messages: 47

    Good luck man! This is a fun business to be in - I have had a blast this winter. Everything will have its ups & downs, but all in all while the roommates are in the house sipping hit chocolate, I'm out making $$$$. BTW, Meyer is garbage! My Bo's had 6 brand new ones put on in December and every last one of them have already had serious issues that required welding, hydraulic lines leaking, etc. I have had ZERO issues with my Western Pro Plow...just my $.02
  13. RUJusten

    RUJusten Member
    from VA
    Messages: 47

    Sorry guys for the typos - typing on my iPad and didn't proofread!

    *hot chocolate
    *boss not Bo's
  14. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Welcome Mark!
    We must be neighbors! I have been in this business (part time) for more than 15 years, mostly in the Holland area, and have been a member of PS since 01. You will find that there are people who have something to say about everything here, and some (like me) only speak up only when there is something important to say :nod:.
    It has been a great winter here because it will weed out the "low ballers" and change pricing (espicially for seasonals) next year, so I think you are on the right path, doing your research now and start putting out bids mid to late summer for the up coming snow season.
    As far as your truck, the plow is really dependent on what kind of plowing you intend to do. If you are thinking mostly residentials, a 7'6" straight blade is more than enough, If you are thinking larger commercial lots, a larger scoop type plow would be better. IMO, a set of timbrens (can be purchsed at State Spring in GR) is helpful no matter what plow you decide on.
    I guess the only other thing I can think to tell you is, have a back up plan. Even newer trucks will break down, so if you are a one man show (like me) have something in place in case you can't get your accounts serviced with the truck you have. Good luck, and feel free to PM me once you have reached the min requirments to do so, if you have any other questions about plowing in the West Michigan area, Dave
  15. MichiganMark

    MichiganMark Junior Member
    Messages: 21


    Hey all....once again, thanks for the input and the site. It can be hard to dig out the info you're after sometimes, but overall I've found this site very helpful.

    Plowtoy: I'd love to sit and chew your ear sometime soon. I value input of those who've been there and done that.

    Just thought I'd add an update along with the thanks....

    Plow: I ended up with a 7'6" Boss SD on the front.

    Business: I attempted to cross my I's and dot my T's :jester: by reaching out to some guys that have been in the industry 20 yrs.....asking the "what would you do different/what did you do right/what do you suggest" - type of questions. As I alluded to in my original post, I figured that there would be mis-fires...but I wanted to keep them at a minimum.

    As September came to a close, I was still busy with my pest control and some fall lawn application stuff.....and I had NO SNOW BUSINESS! I had a couple social contacts reach out and offer to show me their seasonal bids/contracts of the guys that they were using, and they offered to have me plow for them. I had already worked on a contract...and using the bid forms that were shared with me, I was able to firm up my service agreement. The business that was offered was about 30+ miles north of my place. It consisted of 11 unoccupied residential properties (per plow..clearly stated as a get them when you can) and one 4 plex (seasonal). Despite it being so far north, I felt as though I should take it, as I didn't have any business yet...

    I then had some more personal contacts reach-out and offer me their seasonal service contract work at their homes. As these were closer to home...about 12 miles away....I was happy to add them. I soon had a cluster of 10 customers in this area (all seasonal residentials).

    Here's where I got myself into trouble...I then had another operator in the area suggest that I put out some road signs near my home. I was reluctant...heck, I've never called any of those numbers along the road, why would anyone else?.....but I bought some signs and put a few out. I had my first phone call within one hour....and over 3 weeks I had 70+ phone calls. Holy balls!

    I know that many in the industry use google earth/maps to bid jobs, but that's not for me. I'd rather meet the person I'm doing business with face-to-face and hear their concerns and expectations directly....along with get a direct feel for the "type" of customer that they may be (I politely turned a couple of customers away due to the rude and demanding demeanor they presented right out of the gate). I also figured that these folks are precisely the customer base that I want to build, as they would be likely to use my services in the summer, so meeting them face-to-face would be a better approach. Surprisingly, many of them commented that they've had plow guys for a few years that they never met face-to-face.

    Long story short...or too long already....I ended up with another 35 seasonal customers locally, within a 6 mile radius of home. I then began to turn business away....and this all happened in about a 4 week span of time....and I had not plowed.....I know, the flaming for this is coming....but man, I just didn't want to turn it away.

    So now I'm clearly overbooked (for a newbie)...with 45 resi's to do and another 11 drives north to perform after a storm.

    To add insult to injury.....I was then offered a commercial contract....a fast food restaurant....at $75/plow up to 6 and $85/plow above 6". Again, I didn't want to say no....

    My learning curve consisted of pushing around a light dusting of snow around on my driveway.....watching as many videos as I could find, and talking to my buddies who've been plowing for years.

    Then the largest November snow storm in history hits West Michigan. Baptism by fire! Semi tractor trailers were driving off the main roads due to no visibility, snow dumps by the hour.....:help:

    I survived. I had very few complaints. I learned.

    I quickly realized that there are a ton of plow guys out there! You don't notice 'em much when you're not in the industry.... but as you guys already know, it's all you see at 3:00 a.m. during a snow event.

    I also figured I would benefit greatly from a back blade. Despite my truck not being common for plowing.....I've read all the flaming on using a Tundra, but guys...I own it. It's paid for. I'd could not justify the expense of a brand new truck/used truck payment on a $20-30K loan when I own a truck that can work. And it was really handling the plowing with the front blade well.

    I approached a few shops locally about a back blade....no one really had any interest in helping me out. Then I walked into Ebling and Sons. They set up an inspection time, took a peek, argued among themselves....then said they'd do it. It took 7 weeks, but I'm happy to say that I have a Tundra with an Ebling back blade on it. I'm told by them that I'm the only one....

    So that's my update. I'm out doing it. I capped my seasonal resi contracts at 25 plows and built in a per/plow price above the 25. I've got a mix of per plow contracts that are giving me some income, to supplement the pre-paid seasonal contracts. I've had a great number of my customers stop me and say thanks....doing a good job....a few even said I'm doing a better job than any of the other operators they've had in the past. One nice lady knitted me a neck warmer! Makes it worth it.

    Got one guy that doesn't want any snow pack on his private drive. Met him face-to-face to discuss. Offered to give him his money back for unused plows if he wanted to find someone else....he has since come around. My background in customer service along with a sincere desire to have people be happy with what I'm doing for them is paying off.

    At least I know that next year will be better! I won't take any business that's further than 6 miles out....

    Anyways....I just wanted to follow-up on my post from nearly a year ago. This site has been great....from dash/control set ups to what spot lights to use, I've been able to dig out some very helpful info. Thank you.

    Stay safe fellas.

    ~ Mark
  16. derekslawncare

    derekslawncare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    Glad to see it is working out well for you. Don't worry about getting in "a little" over your head; it was your first year out of the gate. I'm sure as you progress and get more practice, you will refine your skills and get faster, thus making you a little more comfortable with your workload. You might even find that you want more. Again, welcome and good luck. Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders from your post that I have read and I have no doubt that you will succeed.
  17. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,251

    Oh great....................another Mark from Michigan.......................
  18. Defcon 5

    Defcon 5 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,923

    Another Mark from West Michigan..........Yikes!!!!!!!!!

    You all from the same branch of the family tree.......:whistling::whistling:
  19. MichiganMark

    MichiganMark Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    At least there's branches on the family tree! You have to travel north or south of here to find family tree's that only go straight up..."Uncle Dad"....:jester: