Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    47
    Location
    Stanwood, WA
    Tractor
    New Holland T1510

    Default Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    I am considering starting a small land clearing business here in western Washington. I will have to start small as I don't have start-up capital to purchase a small mulcher outright so my thought was going with a used tracked compact loader (bobcat, case, deere, etc) and a high capacity flail mower like this one. http://www.usmower.com/products/skid...ifications.pdf This will initially be a side line business for me to give me time to build a client base and the loader will be used around my home on 5 acres. I feel that I have no option but to go tracked given the soft soil conditions around here in the spring and fall in this area. I have also considered a utility tractor, 4wd, with a flail on the back but I think this would only give me the capability of mowing overgrown pasture and small vegitation, limiting my potential client base.

    I am looking for any input folks in this business may have on this plan of mine. Any advice or experiences you care to share would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

    Christian.

  2. #2
    Bronze Member KretZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    61
    Location
    Southeast OH/North Rhein Westphalia, Germany
    Tractor
    New Holland (One day)

    Default Re: Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    I don't know how hard it is to clear land out in Washington, but from my limited experience, you are going to need some serious equipment to be able to do it quickly enough to make it profitable. And why just land clearing? I know this guy who started a similar business. He started just by plowing peoples gardens in the fall/spring, also plowing driveways and roads in the winter. Now he has his own dozer, and pretty big dump truck that also hauls his dozer on a trailer. Makes a good living doing dozer work and hauling gravel for people.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    811
    Location
    S. Central TX Hill Country

    Default Re: Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    Christian. I'm a small biz. I started small and stayed small on purpose.
    Let's assume you can mulch the trees out in Washington. If you don't have any experience, I would suggest practicing on your own land, your friends, relatives, etc. Get proficient. Starting with a CTL is a good tool. Get a good trailer, insurance, etc., and find out if you need a sales tax permit so you don't get any nasty surprises. Once that's out of the way, try different things. You might not get a lot of mulching jobs at first unless you are cheap and that won't pay for your equipment. I'd suggest learning how or subbing out some trimming and mulch up the small stuff until you get proficient. I see a lot of jobs where guys buy a mulcher and then obliterate a piece of land. Some of them put their signs up, too, and wonder why they don't get any calls. There is a finesse aspect to mulching and that comes from experience and taking your time. The reason I suggest mulching small stuff and piles is there are always piles of brush to take on. Whether someone wants it hauled away or mulched mowed on site, it seems that more and more folks are clearing their own land but don't like to burn, can't burn, or simply don't have time to burn. That's been a good niche for me but it always means more time bidding and driving around. I don't try and compete with the big boys on large acreage. I take on the small jobs, the hill sides, and the back yards. It may not be where you want to be in 5 years but the experience you will get and the control you will develop over your machine will allow you to move up in class or do bigger and better things.

    Once you get good at controlling your machine and can afford a mulcher, you can start taking on bigger projects. That finesse I mentioned will allow you to leave a finished product that will get you referrals. The side line of hauling some small stuff away or mulching it on site also provides a niche market service that might fit with your part-time schedule. Learning about the different types of wood and how they recycle, will allow you to know your limitations and your equipment's strengths.

    In this economy I wouldn't narrow my focus too much. With a machine you can do a lot of different things and you are only limited by your experience and attachment availability within the class of machine you have so look at other aspects of machine work that will lead you to that land clearing. For example practice removing stumps, clearing trails, fence lines, storm clean-up, fire breaks, etc. Those are all relatively small jobs (not accounting for the monster-sized trees in your state) that you can do with a CTL. Maybe mow a field or two by renting a mower. Rent a tree shear and try different methods of clearing. There will always be a need for compact machines so focus on that if that's where you want to be. If you plan on moving up, start thinking along those lines and work towards that.

    I would go with a CTL over a tractor for clearing purposes. Much more versatile in my opinion. I can't use a CTL where I work (lots of rock) but if I could, I would. My skid will outwork my tractor and I have a lot more attachments than the tractor did.
    Get an enclosed cab, too, if you can. Being comfortable will help you want to stay in the machine longer.
    Brush Chipping and Tree Mulching Texas Style!

  4. #4
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    258
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Tractor
    None (yet)

    Default Re: Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    I'm not a small business expert or owner but I am an experienced consumer, government, private sector and employee owned business employee. One of the things that stuck with me was a comment made by our company cash manager when we were talking about our subs and suppliers, to wit: "It's not up to us to manage their cash flow!" Most small businesses fail because they are under capitalized. My $.02 is if you're planning on doing this on a shoestring and depending on the cash flow from jobs to current consumption, you're very optimistic. Customers contract with you to do a job and don't care a fig for equipment breakdown, someone else's late payments/non-payments, employee no-shows, etc. ad infinitum. So unless and until you're prepared to cover the worst case scenarios out of your own pocket, I'd caution against doing this. I'm and auditor and a cynic and a pessimist but I prefer to think of myself as logical and pragmatic, so my advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. But it does have a basis in reality.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    47
    Location
    Stanwood, WA
    Tractor
    New Holland T1510

    Default Re: Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    Thank you both Yellowdogsvc and Stick895, both of your insights are very helpful. To your concerns Stick895, I am trying to start this business properly, and I wasn't trying to imply that I want to start this business by spending as little as possible. I plan on getting licensed, bonded and insured before taking on any work with a machine. I am going to attend small business courses locally and work towards establishing capital sources before I try and grow the business beyond part time and small jobs. I plan on covering incidentals and up front costs with income from my current job and my wife's. I know my quoting model will need some tweaking initially so I'm not going to quit my current professon and expect to be able to pay all the bills as I start up. As I get older I realize that making my own way in the business world is what I really want.

    I guess what I was driving at with my original post was the fact that I would like to have a machine that would both suit my personal needs but be a capable piece of equipment to start the business with. As they say you have to spend money to make money and I was looking for a sounding board that a CTL/mulcher combination would be a decent way to start out. Thanks to Yellowdogsvc it sounds like a business can be successful with a small piece of equipment.

    Keep the info and suggestions coming, its all appreciated!

    Christian

  6. #6
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    874
    Location
    WV
    Tractor
    John Deere 1026R

    Default

    I started about 1 year ago with my new john deere 1026r and I've had to make the payments for 6 months on the machine. Its not a big deal because I didn't look for work all summer. I was too busy at my main job to do it but I can tell you to watch out for three things...

    1. Too small of a machine takes a Long time to do a job and makes you have to bid lower than you should.

    2. Good customers get you more sales so do a little extra on every job to make it look as good as possible. I hand rake everything and keep all of my trash picked up. I keep my tools and implements neatly organized and I keep my equipment clean between jobs. I also try to keep my truck looking nice. It needs a paint job pretty bad now. I'll probably tackle that next year when I put a flat bed on it.

    3. Mark up your materials and labor by 10%. You will need it!

  7. #7
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    811
    Location
    S. Central TX Hill Country

    Default Re: Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChristianHF View Post
    Thank you both Yellowdogsvc and Stick895,me tweaking initially so I'm not going to quit my current professon and expect to be able to pay all the bills as I start up. As I get older I realize that making my own way in the business world is what I really want.

    I guess what I was driving at with my original post was the fact that I would like to have a machine that would both suit my personal needs but be a capable piece of equipment to start the business with. As they say you have to spend money to make money and I was looking for a sounding board that a CTL/mulcher combination would be a decent way to start out. Thanks to Yellowdogsvc it sounds like a business can be successful with a small piece of equipment.

    Keep the info and suggestions coming, its all appreciated!

    Christian
    If you have equipment experience, I'd start looking and talking to dealers in your area. Good service for your machine is as important, in my opinion, as finding the right fit for a machine. Again, I'm a small equipment guy. The biggest thing I've owned is a JD 450 crawler loader though I have operated some larger machines.

    For compact equipment, if you are going to be clearing land and eventually mulching, you should look for a machine with at least 90 hp. A CTL in that category is going to weigh between 9700-12k lbs. A mulcher weighs between 2300 and 2600 lbs in the skid steer or CTL category so you need a hefty machine before you even spec hydraulic power. I like Bobcat but I am the first to admit that Bobcat lags in the hydraulic power department. At best, breakout, hydro power, and torque are in the middle of the pack with Bobcat. Knowing how to operate a machine (the finesse) will allow you to be more efficient than the other guy. That finesse will keep your machine from getting beat up, too. You specifically asked about starting out with a CTL mulcher combo.. My initial thought would be unless you have a name out there, work way under what the named guys will, or have a ton of seat time in a mulcher, don't start out with one as your core service. That learning curve is steep and while it's possible, I think you will burn a lot of unnecessary experience dollars that could be gained using a bucket. Learn the machine first then add attachments.

    If I was starting out again, after figuring out what services I want to provide, I'd get as much machine as I could afford and work towards adding attachments. Even if you can only afford a machine and a bucket to start, you can rent many attachments like tree shears, grapples, and mowers. Running a mulcher is in another category but if you take care of a powerful machine, when you do get ready to mulch, it can be upfitted to handle the mulcher. Brand is a personal preference and I'd interview the service departments of the local big names and see who will support you.

    And practice, practice, practice. I see a lot of guys who buy an old machine just to make a few bucks on the weekend. The quality of their work shows. Just like anything else you have to be good at what you do. Reading literature on the subject, watching vids on you tube of good operators, and especially putting in the necessary seat time will set you apart from Joe Dirt Guy who only works when he needs beer money. I try and integrate the job with my life instead of having the "oh God it's Monday" mentality. That way I'm always striving to improve my knowledge base, skills, work quality. Nobody's perfect and I've yet to see a job that is perfect but striving for that each and every time will also set you apart from "that other guy."
    Brush Chipping and Tree Mulching Texas Style!

  8. #8
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    117
    Location
    Mississippi
    Tractor
    Massy Furgason 396, ASV-100 with Cimaf, D9H(Frankenstien), D9G(Rusty), D6D(troublemaker), and JD 6420P :)

    Default Re: Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    yellow dog said it perfect, starting small has its advantages, you can do good work and keep a good production speed. Big jobs arnt what its all cracked up to be, trust me on that one, i asked the biggest mulching guy in my area and he said if he could do it all over again he would still have his 2000 dodge 3500 and his ASV-100, just as long as your not a logger with diamond dreams im sure you will be just fine!

  9. #9
    Silver Member redprospector's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    223
    Location
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico
    Tractor
    Fecon FTX 90 /Pieces of an ASV 4810 / JD 440b skidder / JD 450b dozer / Bobcat T320 / Hydro Ax 311c

    Default Re: Advice for someone (me) wanting to start a land clearing business.

    If you're going to buy a used CTL, you need to know what you're looking at. If not you need to make friends with a mechanic (or someone who does know).
    My first CTL was an ASV 4810. I knew a little about a lot of equipment, but I knew nothing about these little "rubber tracked" marvels. That little purchase was quite an education, and had I been just starting out could have quite easily broke me.
    Like Yellowdog said, make sure you check out your local dealers, and that they will service your machine. A good machine without a good servicing dealer, isn't much good to anyone. I learned that one the hard way too, but that's another story.

    Andy

  10. #10

    Default

    Great advice in this thread! I myself started small and have stayed small. Have a practically new 2011 hm315 2speed mulching head for sale also if your looking for equipment to start out shoot me a pm if interested!

Similar Threads

  1. New to forum - need land clearing advice
    By spollan in forum Land Clearing Equipment
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 10-28-2012, 09:45 AM
  2. Wanting to start small PT fab business.
    By 1grnlwn in forum Welding
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 03-29-2011, 11:15 PM
  3. Need advice on land clearing
    By DennisH in forum Land Clearing Equipment
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 07-08-2010, 11:49 PM
  4. In need of some advice on land clearing bussiness
    By NathanielJeep1 in forum Owning/Operating
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 01-14-2005, 02:25 AM
  5. Equipment Advice for Clearing Land for Pasture
    By Todd_Kihnley in forum Buying/Pricing/Comparisons
    Replies: 53
    Last Post: 02-03-2004, 07:02 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
© 2014 TractorByNet.com. TractorByNet is a registered trademark of IMC Digital Universe, Inc. Other trademarks on this page are the property of their respective owners.