What was it realistically like your first couple years?

marne

New Member
One of my collegues runs a 7 man crew 2 bucket trucks big chipper and so on. The other one is alone, sometimes one helper, an f150 and an 7x14 tipping trailer, where he cuts the the brush with a 661and this 10 years+. The lonely one only does quality climbing jobs, has all new equipment, is always happy and relaxed and one of the richest persons I know, he does incredibly well, 120k car, beautiful house, model wife and everything paid. The other one is always stressed and on the run behind the equipment and lazy employees, not poor but far away from the focused single.
This helped me making my choice.
 

climbingmonkey24

Active Member
I start with a ford focus and my tools in the trunk and back seat offering just pruning and tree removal with out hauling anything away and not grinding stumps, at the firs I just want to do small trees it was good but I can't keep turning away big trees forever.
You will find out on the way what fits better for you.
Kept saying to my self no more equipment... Just acquired new lift couple months ago :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
Lol that’s actually how I started at the very very beginning a couple years ago. I had a Hyundai, with all my equipment in it. And either took no cleanup jobs or subcontracted the cleanup out which was a lesson learned.

Way more expense though having someone else do it than just investing in the equipment myself to be able to do cleanup.
 

VenasNursery

Well-Known Member
Lol that’s actually how I started at the very very beginning a couple years ago. I had a Hyundai, with all my equipment in it. And either took no cleanup jobs or subcontracted the cleanup out which was a lesson learned.

Way more expense though having someone else do it than just investing in the equipment myself to be able to do cleanup.
It’s tough to find somebody to rely on someone else
 
I start with a ford focus and my tools in the trunk and back seat
I started moonlighting in a Honda Fit 5 years ago! Saved bought some gear, save for a truck, then put myself through climbing school and got my contractors license, then it was off to the hamster races!.
 
Don't get me wrong about my posts on being "small". I'm not anti-financing equipment. There are a lot of great things financing does:

1. New Equipment - very little repairs at first
2. Builds Business Credit
3. Borrowing money right now is as cheap as it's going to get.
4. If done right, it will make you money and profit.

Let's take a mini skid for example - payment is $600 a month. That's $20 a day. To rent one, it is around $250 a day, plus all the time it took to pick it up, drop it off, etc. I bill it at $125 a day. I just saved the customer money and made profit on my machine.

Do you know any laborer who can lift 800 lbs all day, every day and do it for $20 a day?

It speeds up the work, makes it safe, and fun.

I just finance one at a time when all the boxes are checked on my list.
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
"What was it realistically like your first couple years?"

I really didn't get much accomplished my first couple years. I was in diapers for most of that time and couldn't eat solid food. Honestly, I was such a hot mess at that time I can't even remember much of it. By the end of the first couple years I was walking though, and things got a lot better after that.
 

Nathanael

Member
My dad started the business out of necessity in 2000 when I was 15 and my oldest brother was 23. We started with a flatbed truck and flatbed trailer. After the first year we got a small bucket truck and another trailer. Then we had an ice storm which really established our customer base.

We made a small stump grinder and motorized cart for hauling material after a few years of wheel barreling everything.

in 2006 we bought a used 40 foot nifty lift on tracks. That helped a ton. Around that time we also got our first dumping truck. A 93 Chevy 3500. That was so nice not having to unload all the chunks by hand every evening.

Sometime around here we bought a 24 hp Carlton stump grinder.

In 2008 or so we bought our first chipper and chip truck. A 1998 international 4700 and a 12 inch eager beaver morbark disk chipper.

I think it was in 2009 we bought a 70 foot Elliott lift for the bigger removals. We wanted to make larger trees safer to remove. Around then we bought a 1999 ford 450 with the 7.3 diesel which we put a dump bed on. That truck has been a mainstay of our operation ever since.

Pretty soon we realized the eager beaver was to small and needed to upgrade. We bought a morbark 2400, then put together a bigger chip truck.

Over the years we have developed and bought more equipment to take care of our customers and make our jobs safer and easier. Our income has inreased, but our needs have increased also. My brother and I are both married now with 9 kids between us and one on the way.

We have been pretty conservative with money over the years. The only lone our business ever took out was when we put our first bucket truck together. It has been nice to not have payments when things have been slow. We have had a lot of good employees over the years, and quite a few marginal ones as well. It has really helped to have a solid core of my brother my Dad and myself.

We have worked hard, but the Lord has been the one to care for us over the years. Looking back it has been neat to see how the Lord has timed things to make a way for us. From letting us get a bucket truck right before an ice storm came, to having the electric company supervisor (also a friend of the family) drive by when we were in a tricky situation early on. Grandma has prayed for us a lot over the years, and our church as well.

As far as advice on getting a backyard lift, purchasing one will dramatically increase the amount of cutting you will be able to do in a day, but that may make your material handling capabilities the bottleneck in your operation.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Don't get me wrong about my posts on being "small". I'm not anti-financing equipment. There are a lot of great things financing does:

1. New Equipment - very little repairs at first
2. Builds Business Credit
3. Borrowing money right now is as cheap as it's going to get.
4. If done right, it will make you money and profit.

Let's take a mini skid for example - payment is $600 a month. That's $20 a day. To rent one, it is around $250 a day, plus all the time it took to pick it up, drop it off, etc. I bill it at $125 a day. I just saved the customer money and made profit on my machine.

Do you know any laborer who can lift 800 lbs all day, every day and do it for $20 a day?

It speeds up the work, makes it safe, and fun.

I just finance one at a time when all the boxes are checked on my list.
That seems low to me for the mini. That’s around 70 days to make your payment and 20% profit before you add insurance maintenance fuel and a budget for future repairs etc. Curious how you came up with your rate as I am still figuring my numbers? Not knocking, just asking.
 

Edi

Member
Celebrity climber takes between $1000 and $1,200 a week.
Portable lift is $450 payment a week.
Mini loader $180 a week payment.
Don't get me wrong I do my own climbing when is need it, I'm just preparing for when my knees can't take it anymore.
 
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erwin

Active Member
I WILL buy a 100' spider lift and maybe even a spider crane when I have too much money in my bank because I would love them even though I do NOT need them. However, when my time comes, I'll definately get one when my legs refuse to climb for me. I often wake up dreaming about them. I'm 55 years old
 
That seems low to me for the mini.

If I divide the $600 payment (includes $49 inland marine - actual payment is $571 with insurance) by 20 work days in a month it is actually $30 a day i need to charge to break even and make the payment. I think I erroneously stated $20 a say.

Everyjob, however, I charge $125 for the machine - sometimes we work 2 jobs in a day (resulting in $250 a day in machine income). 20 x $125 per job/day is minimum $2500 a month in earnings. Fuel is so minimal, we are never on it for more than a 4 hours a day, air filters and oil kit about every 2 month's is $150. $2500 x 12months is $30,000 when my payments each year are only $7,200.

Think about it hourly...to break even, it costs me $3.75 an hour to run yet I charge $15.62...and there is zero workers comp, it has never called in sick, no outside drama, and the only thing asks for is about $7 in diesel each day, regular nut tightening, oil and filter changes.
 
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I've been in the biz since 1976 (yes, 76) working with my dad and then a big outfit in New England. Started my own biz in 1983 in Texas. I am a sole proprietor and I've done almost all of my own climbing since day one. I have one small truck, a chipper and a trailer; sold my fertilizer pump a few years back after 15 years of offering that service.

One thing I can tell you that so many have said to me over the years; both those who have known me a long time and some I'd just met at conferences, comps, etc. They tell me they wish they had kept their business like mine, or at least never gotten as big as they had. Their biggest complaint is that they are no longer climbers, they are firemen- they spend all day putting out fires caused by employees, equipment, etc.

You said you're eager to expand. Many guys are happy going that route and continue to offer high quality service to their customers, and make better money doing it than they could being a little guy. But for everyone of them, I see at least one that isn't offering as good a quality as they did when they were smaller, and even if they are, I often wonder how much more they are really netting, and whether all that time babysitting, apologizing for screw ups and generally pulling their hair out is worth the extra dough, if there is any.

Keep it small, stay in the trees and be committed above all to offering the BEST quality tree care possible. You will end up with a dedicated clientele through good times and bad. I think you will sleep better at night with a bank roll that'll be good enough.

Above all, STAY SAFE. I started in the days of no PPE and manila lines, and safety wasn't even an afterthought. It was easy to pick up bad habits that took me years to shake. I took a few falls and was just damn lucky I survived with only minor (but permanent) disabilities. The extra 10 minutes you save cutting some corners on safety can end up being pretty expensive. Best wishes.
 
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