Get big or stay small? a business advice thread.

Big Natey

Big Natey

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Business advice for me, not from me.

Ive searched the forum, but have not seen a thread like this.

My question is directed to those of you who own a business, and have so for a while. How much equipment do you have? Too much or too little? If you have a lot of equipment does it truly make running the business easier or does it just cause more headaches? If you don't have a lot of equipment, is it worth the extra physical labor to keep a low overhead?

Ive worked for two different tree companies, the one I work for now has a 75'bucket, a 80' boom truck, loader truck, log truck, dump truck, a 924 cat loader, two skid steers, 2 f250s, 2 dump trailers, a 15inch bandit chipper and chip truck, and a sawmill. We work up to a 100 mile radius of our hometown and hold contracts with 3 different citys. all of our equipment is less than 2 years old.

The other company I worked for had 2 old trucks, an old skid steer, and a dump trailer. I enjoyed working for this company far more than the one I work for now because the boss was so laid back. We worked hard, safe, and had fun.

I am planning opening my own business hopefully first of next year, after I get my isa certs. Ive done tree work for about 6 years now and am pretty proficient on all aspects of removal. I need to up my pruining game though. I ask the above questions because I will be starting with a truck, brush trailer, maybe a pulpwood truck. ill save my money and buy a used skid steer. I already have ropes, blocks, climbing gear, and relatively new saws.

So the question is, is going big really worth it. Or would you rather keep it simple.

All replies appreciated.
 
BC WetCoast

BC WetCoast

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I think it depends on what you want to do. Do you want to be a businessman, only dealing with customers, bankers, crew, insurance agents, leasing agents, accountants and lawyers; or do you want to be an arborist working with the tools most of the day?

I think the answer to this question will tell you whether you want to stay small or go big.
 
stltreedr

stltreedr

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I think it depends on what you want to do. Do you want to be a businessman, only dealing with customers, bankers, crew, insurance agents, leasing agents, accountants and lawyers; or do you want to be an arborist working with the tools most of the day?

I think the answer to this question will tell you whether you want to stay small or go big.


Very good advice...
I will add, the 'big' company that you mentioned doesn't appear to have anything other than the basics really... Equipment seems expensive but when you compare it against the labor saved, it makes all the sense in the world.
 
capetrees

capetrees

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The other question is HOW big of small. . Big enough to have contracts with multiple towns and lots of overhead, big enough to have two crews and work for homeowners and smaller contracts or small, meaning just you and a helper? More equipment mean more headaches, more personel means more headaches, bigger contracts means more headaches but then again, all of that combined on good days means big money.
 
scheffa

scheffa

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Really depends on what your wanting, the bigger you are the bigger the headaches, but like a poor man doesn't have much to loose were a wealthy man has everything to loose.
The company I work for is of a reasonable size, 4 trucks, 4 cruiser Utes with hoppers, 5 6" chippers 3 8" chippers and an 18" chipper, bobcat, excavator 4 bucket trucks and 15 odd staff. Our running costs are higher than what a smaller company turns over in a week. When things are good they are real good, when they are bad it can mean the end of the company
 
capetrees

capetrees

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I worked for a land surveyor years ago, 80's, big development/building boom happened and he built the company up. Was a small company in a small town with 4 employees. Built it to 8 in the field, 2 in the office, 5 in the drafting room. Made big money, seemed like it would never end.
Similar company two towns away, 4 employees, same business, stayed the course, remained small and very busy. to this day they are still the same size.
The company I worked for was destroyed by the economic downturn of the early 90's and is scraping by to make a living today. The other company never felt a bump in the downturn and are still very successful.

Just sayin'
 
Erwin

Erwin

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I've been in the business for over 12 years. I have a SRW 1995 F350 diesel with a dump bed and a home-made chip box. Planning to find a mid-sized real chip truck (F600 with a 14' bed) soon. I stay small because I still have a day job to go to. If I were to do this full-time, I still want to stay relatively small, with more equipment (all must be paid for with cash!) and still directly involved in daily operation. On advice I'd give u is no to get a brush trailer and get a used 6" chipper instead (like Vermeer 620). you can find one for a little over 3 grand. Mine served me for 12 years and now I put on a 25 HP engine. When I grew a little bigger in the next 5 years and buy a bigger chipper (over 10"), I'll still keep that chipper as a backup, best investment ever.
 
JCtree

JCtree

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Stay small keep it all
My tree business is just over 30 years old. I prefer to keep the quality of my work as close to perfect as possible. Also, I get to spend more time on the field, have less overhead, and less headaches.
The biggest headaches seem to come from issues with employees (i.e. Reliability, drug/alcohol problems, etc)
 

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