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  1. #41
    Veteran Member RDrancher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    North Texas
    New Holland TC35D, Kubota SVL90-2 CTL

    Default Re: I want to start a small excavation business...need advice!!

    Thanks for all of the info AC.

    I don't think that any of this is off topic one bit. Anyone that's looking at getting into the biz can benefit from ideas being thrown around. It's all good.

    My Work & Stuff Photo Thread:

    John 14:6

  2. #42
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    S. W. Virginia
    Kubota B3200, Ford NAA, IH 454D, Case 1845C

    Default Re: I want to start a small excavation business...need advice!!

    I'm not in an excavating business per say, but I do a fair amount of light grading and excavating for my agricultural construction business, so here's a few thoughts:

    - Don't borrow money to start a business, even if it means starting with very small, used equipment. Not having payments on anything really helps the bottom line if work gets slow.

    - Find a niche, don't just try to do what everyone else is doing.

    - I rarely do hourly work. IMO it's not rewarding or beneficial for either the contractor or the customer. Even on small jobs I give a set price, including labor, materials, everything. Often I'll end up being a little less than what I quoted, which is something the customer will remember. If you are just starting out, you might need to pick up more hourly work until you get good at estimating projects, however.

    - Buy equipment that is versatile. I personally would rather have a small TLB (kubota B26-L45, Deere 110, etc) than a mini-excavator. Something like a small TLB with a 3pt and PTO can do light land clearing, excavating, grading, then do site cleanup, final grading, seeding, etc. When you get big enough that you have a large volume of work for a specific machine, then it may be worth investing in a mini-ex, compact track loader, etc. Having one machine that can do it all is good when you are small though.

    - I agree with others about the dump trailer vs. dump truck. I've been using our old '75 Chevy C60 dump on a project lately and it would be a joke to try to do it with a pickup and a dump trailer. Even the large 14K dump trailers can only haul about 5 tons. I can haul 8 tons on the C60, which may not sound like a big difference, but after a few trips it is. Also, the medium-duty trucks are just built so much better than light duty trucks it's not comparable. When I get a newer truck I'll likely get something in the class 6-7 range with a 12-16' flatbed dump (again, versatility). Lastly, medium duty trucks can be had for dirt cheap compared to a late model pickup and a new dump trailer. You can buy a nice 2-ton dump for $10-15K, something that's old but useable for half that.

    - As for advertising, keep things clean and simple. A combination of business cards, nice tri-fold color brochures (glossy on good heavy paper), name on the sides of your trucks, website and simple target marketing will go a long way. As mentioned before, get to know and be known by realtors, local businesses, other contractors, etc.

    Hope some of this helps.
    Kubota B3200
    Ford NAA Jubilee
    International 454D
    Case 1845C skid steer
    JD 265

  3. #43
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Buffalo, NY
    Massey Ferguson

    Default Re: I want to start a small excavation business...need advice!!

    If i were to rent a mini ex at first, what are the MAIN jobs i should try to focus on, the two main ones I have come up with are:

    -stump removal
    -smallor demolition projects, sheds, patios, barns etc...

    A big question I have is howwwww do I price these jobs, hourly or one set price, and how do i determine the price/price range??

  4. #44
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    John Deere 1026R


    For demo the factors to consider are:
    1. Permits
    2. Required testing and proper removal of hazmat
    3. Burn in place or haul off.
    4. If burning, Bury or remove. You don't want an open station ex for moving ashes!
    5. Site access control and protecting nearby structures.
    6. Haul road/ rolloff drop location. Rolloffs have to be on gravel at least. They won't drop them on dirt because they can get stuck.

  5. #45
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    South Carolina

    Default Re: I want to start a small excavation business...need advice!!

    I'm not in the business, but I've rented a Mini-Excavator a couple of times. If you do get a Mini-Excavator get it with some options like a Thumb and aux hyd connections, so you can run a auger and a trencher on it too.

    The two Bobcats were a 325 or a 328 and a E32 both were great, but the E32 had a thumb and that made it much nicer.

    One other thing get a good trailer with at least 5200 lb axles, but 6ks would be better.

    The Bobcat dealer that I rentred from had some used ones that didn't seem to bad price wise.
    IHC 424 Diesel
    Ford 917 Flail Mower

  6. #46
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    NSW Australia
    Tractors16-600hp Farm & Earthmoving Equip, Trucks etc.

    Default Re: I want to start a small excavation business...need advice!!

    For us the key to making good $'s in earthmoving/excavation is finding niche markets by doing specialised jobs/providing a service others don't, that way you have limited competition & margins are preserved.

    With a smaller excavator (as thought starters) I'd be considering in specialised attachments/tasks in hobby farm/semi rural areas:
    - A hyd auger & probably a post driver
    This will support property owners who want to do their own fencing but can't justify owning the gear, & enable in slower times diversification into complete fencing jobs (maybe consider only specialisation in a particularly fence type like post/rail erection). And these attachments will also support erection of retaining walls/landscaping jobs
    The hyd auger with a couple of extensions should also dig piers for shed frames. tank/windmill frames..etc.
    - A hyd flail mower/mulcher
    If there's demand from private/municipal owners for light clearing/mulching in so called "inaccessible" areas (hillsides, creek beds, drainage channels) which an excavator can handle easily
    - A tilting hitch
    For increased versatility of the mulcher/auger/driver/buckets & if it will enables the excavator to tackle jobs more efficiently/others can't handle (e.g. underpinning, drainage)
    - Hyd thumb/grab
    Great for aiding contruction of retaining walls/landscaping, & for clearing/stacking for pile burns
    - HD Rake
    Clearing brush/rock/debris or de- clogging reeds from ponds/dams/drains
    - Roadliner Pads (on steel tracks)
    Roadliners with their LGP will limit "witness" marks from traversing & work out (if used appropriately) with the steel tracks less costly than running rubber tracks

    Demo & stump removal is all fine & fun, but the fact is it can be hard on equipment & the operator, add to this higher risks for the operator/increased insurance premiums/environmental issues with disposal, & IMO a lot of "fly by night" contractors undercutting the competition - in most areas it's all to hard to consistently make good $ chasing/quoting these jobs so they are best avoided.

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