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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

We just picked up an apartment complex and it will be our biggest property. I originally thought I’d have a guy go around with a snow blower doing the walkways. The more I think about it, I might actually need two guys on snowblowers. Now I’m considering a Snowrator with he drop salter on the front. Question is, is it worth the $17k price tag? In addition to be being faster than a snow blower, we can use it for salt events to get the ice melt down quickly. At that price, I’m debating and stressing if I want to just do it with snowblowers and push spreaders. Thoughts?
 

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Do you have unlimited labor?

Are you a jobs program or a business to make a profit?

This is a no-brainer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Do you have unlimited labor?

Are you a jobs program or a business to make a profit?

This is a no-brainer.
I’m trying to make the right financial decision so I’m not blowing the entire contract money on equipment. Any info on the walk behind brushes? Are they any good or is it better to spend $20k on a Mag with a brush?
 

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Nice set up!
Thanks!
That unit is what got me started clearing snow 20 years ago. It didn’t have the cab back then. Brrrrrrr!!! Nothing like snow from that blower coming back on you! I don’t know how many hours I’d put on it every winter. Have to start somewhere! We don’t get snow here like we did 30+ years ago. Some winters we don’t even have to clear. Some we work a lot. Hoping we work a lot this year because I bought a bunch of equipment this year and expanded the snow equipment line up. We use all tractors, no trucks. No big lots. Small business parking lots (25 +/- spaces), apartment buildings and residential drives. Couple churches usually and at least one Post Office. (Hoping to get a second larger Post Office this year.)

On what equipment to buy: You want to be in and out as quickly as you can so you can get on to the next place. The quicker you can do it, the more money you make. Don’t expect the one apartment complex to pay for your equipment. Buy some equipment and go get more contracts!
 

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I’m trying to make the right financial decision so I’m not blowing the entire contract money on equipment. Any info on the walk behind brushes? Are they any good or is it better to spend $20k on a Mag with a brush?
1st year machine, I'd steer clear for a year... Not sure your location and what type of snow you generally receive, but a broom can only handle so much...
 

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How much does labor cost vs a machine that will do the work of 3-4 employees?
 

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OP, since we don't have/want your numbers keep this in mind: Sell the job based on prevailing rates-your numbers are profitable right?- for your area and the quality of service you offer. Then work your costs back. Labor is your biggest cost year over year. Cutting labor makes you money. How long will you have the machine? How many LF/SQ FT can you do with it in an average event then sell that footage. Use the manpower surplus to perform other work and get more $ from that.

Yeah its a big number the first time out but there is a reason that equipment exists and so many were use them.
 

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I’m trying to make the right financial decision so I’m not blowing the entire contract money on equipment. Any info on the walk behind brushes? Are they any good or is it better to spend $20k on a Mag with a brush?
I understand that but you're looking at it wrong as others have stated. Labor costs more, is more unreliable and harder to find. But you didn't answer the questions.

Do you have other work for the machine? How many hours did you estimate? Can snowblower 1 perform other work when he finishes...plowing or walks? I can't remember the other questions I was going to axe.

In this economy it is all about efficiency. 2 guys with blowers is anything but efficient unless that is the only way to do the work. Actually, any economy.

Last year I bought another loader for plowing. Between purchase price and repairs, I spent about as much or maybe a bit less than a well equipped pickup with front and rear plows. I had another 50% into the purchase of a plow for it. The CFO asked why not a truck or trucks. For less than 1/3 the price of 3 trucks with plows I can do the same amount of work. More importantly I only needed 1 operator. I know it doesn't compare exactly but it's basically the same thing.

Plus, you will be able to get something out of the machine if you lose the contract next year or whatever.
 

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I understand that but you're looking at it wrong as others have stated. Labor costs more, is more unreliable and harder to find. But you didn't answer the questions.

Do you have other work for the machine? How many hours did you estimate? Can snowblower 1 perform other work when he finishes...plowing or walks? I can't remember the other questions I was going to axe.

In this economy it is all about efficiency. 2 guys with blowers is anything but efficient unless that is the only way to do the work. Actually, any economy.

Last year I bought another loader for plowing. Between purchase price and repairs, I spent about as much or maybe a bit less than a well equipped pickup with front and rear plows. I had another 50% into the purchase of a plow for it. The CFO asked why not a truck or trucks. For less than 1/3 the price of 3 trucks with plows I can do the same amount of work. More importantly I only needed 1 operator. I know it doesn't compare exactly but it's basically the same thing.

Plus, you will be able to get something out of the machine if you lose the contract next year or whatever.
Don't forget that heavy equipment has better resale AND longer lifespans doing snow. That pickup [snowblower] only lasts a few seasons then either is worth nothing compared to what you paid for it [new] or is junk. Loaders and the snowrator can be resold for good amounts compared to the entry cost [used or new in the loader's case].
 

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If there's that much blower work, it's going to be a one season machine realistically.

Still waiting for some answers from the OP.

How much snow do you get?

What are the specs? Salt every time?
 

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Walk behind snow blower will replace 3 guys with shovels.
Ventrac with a snow blower will replace 6 guys with shovels.
Snow blower only makes money in the winter.
Ventrac can make money year round. View attachment 258583
Are you seriously using that snow blower for that 1/2"? 🤣
 

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Snow blower only makes money in the winter.
Ventrac can make money year round.
That's why we run all tractors and no plow trucks.
First and foremost, a tractor is so versatile. I can run a front broom for light snow, a front blade when it gets heavier, or a snowblower on front if I need to. On the rear we can run a blade or a blower. I don't currently have any front blowers for the main tractors because as I stated earlier, we don't get as much snow as we used to, but I'm set up for one. I'd just have to find one if I needed it, and I don't mind driving to get one if I have to. Anyway, the tractors have dual PTO's and I could put a blower on front and rear and run them going both directions. (Both PTO's can be ran simultaneously.) Same with the blade. I can switch to a loader if I need to pile it higher. Whatever it calls for, the tractor can do it. Key with them is you need to have all your work close enough together not to have to road too far, otherwise you are loading and unloading and that takes time. I've got all the equipment set up for hauling, and I can boom down two tractors in just a few minutes, but that is something you have to consider, load time, if you have to haul. Currently, we service two towns in my rural county that are about twelve miles apart. So, we do one town and load up and move to the next. One town is tiny, about 1200 people. The other around 6,000 but we put most of our accounts together, so we aren't running across town.

There's info in that paragraph that can be taken as advice, but I didn't spell it out, so I will.
  • Get contracts close to each other to save dead heading.
  • Get equipment that can do multiple jobs. Like gcbailey said, snowblowers only make money in the winter. Look at a tractor. It can be used year round. A truck with a plow can too I suppose, but once you plow with a tractor, payloader or a skid steer, you won't go back to a truck.
  • Equipment saves labor and time. You can charge more for equipment. Sure it does the job faster, but billing rate per hour is higher the larger and more expensive the equipment. In the end, equipment will make you more than a bunch of guys do. Employees can make you money, but not as much as the equipment can.
  • Get the right tool for the job. If you have a bunch of sidewalks, look at a large garden tractor with a blade, a subcompact tractor, or a mini skid. All those can clear walks and leave little to shovel. Me personally, I don't shovel much if any at all. You might have bid shoveling all the way to the door, I don't know.
 
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