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Selling "cute" Machines


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#1 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 09:07 AM

So I got home from work yesterday and hooked the tiller up to the 420 and parked it close to the gate so it'd be ready for use today. My neighbour and his friend came walking into my yard and handed me a beer. This is a good thing.

We stand there drinking beer and my neighbour introduces me to his friend. My neighbour just built a new house on a five acre lot down the road and his friend is going to do the rough landscaping. They were there to pick my brain about drainage and fences and which trees to leave and so on.. Turns out the friend digs basements, digs ditches, installs swales, levels lots and that sort of thing...no equipment smaller than a Bobcat, but a lot of large loaders etc.

Eventually talk turned to my 420, which my neighbour openly envies. His friend says, "Those are cute machines, but they can't really do much work."

My neighbour laughed. He's seen the amount of work I do with it and plans to buy something similar as soon as he sells his present house. He's going to do the finish landscaping himself and his new driveway is huge, so there's going to be a lot of snow to clear. "Doesn't look that cute when he's moving dirt around," my neighbour says, "and you should see him take down a fence with it."

Of course I'm always looking for free fill and the friend digs basements, so I want to stay on his good side. "Also," I say, "I installed a beer holder for those hot days." I point to the cheap plastic cup holder glued to the right fender. The friend looked vaguely uncomfortable, but you could see he was thinking too.

We all piled in my neighbour's truck and went down to his new place. We were stumbling around trying to find the low spots when the friend said, "Those mowers, how are they to run?" Yeah, he was still thinking of GTs as nothing more than riding mowers, but he was still thinking.

"They aren't really mowers, they're little tractors, and the new ones are even easier than mine to run," I said.

"They must break a lot though?" He asked.

"So far all I've put into mine is a couple of hydraulic fittings and oil changes," I said.

"So if I were to start a crew or two to do finish landscaping, you'd come work for me?"

"Not a chance," I said, "I drive a truck for money, landscaping is a young man's game."

"You drive a truck and can run equipment?" I saw the wheels spinning.

"Yup, and I'm happy where I am," I said. Building and landscaping are booming around here right now, but hauling tractor parts for a big company is more stable in the long run, I think. Also, I seldom lift anything heavier than a strap bar.

He looked a little sad, but he was still thinking. "If I buy a couple of those for next year, will you teach a couple of my guys to use them?"

I agreed to that. A little side money in the spring never hurts. I expect he'll give me a couple of low-wage shovel monkeys for a Saturday or two and I'll teach them the basics. Actually I expect that he'll decide to stick with what he has now and nothing will come of it, but whatever.

We looked around some more, and my neighbour had to go get his daughter from whatever sport she's into this week, so me and the friend ended up sitting in my backyard having another beer.

"What do I need to buy?" he asked.

So I went through my wish list: Diesel, either JD or Kubota (not much else available around here in GTs); Loaders; Category 1, 3 point hitch; 540 RPM PTO; box scraper and rear blades; tiller; aerator; packer; harrows. He asked about post hole augers, but I told him he'd be better off using a Bobcat for that.

I left him with one other piece of advice. "You're going to see bigger, more powerful machines and be tempted," I said. "Think about where you'll be working though. You need to keep it small enough for the backyard of an average house."

So, assuming anything comes of this, what else should he have? He'll be moving mostly topsoil, mulch, and rock. A lot of grass seeding, sod-laying, and tree planting. He seems to have a lot of money...most guys in his business do right now...so that's not a major concern. Besides, he's used to paying for big yellow machines and dual axle trucks. GTs are like to seem pretty inexpensive to him. All suggestions welcome.
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#2 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 09:40 AM

I would add a good quality landscape (stone) rake.
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#3 jd.rasentrac ONLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 09:46 AM

Nice and interesting story, written in professionel style, thanx RB :ok: :thumbs:

And if your neighbors friend has started w/ "cute" machines, work will show him, what he need (front lift aso).

Edited by jd.rasentrac, September 08, 2012 - 09:49 AM.

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#4 daytime dave OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 10:15 AM

Great story Rev. I think the most valuable component was already covered. It is you. You can show these folks what the machines can do. You covered all the bases with equipment. Now, if he does get a couple, you can add the best attachment, knowledge.

Hope it works out.
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#5 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 10:19 AM

The main thing about our "cute" machines is their ability to do a lot of real work in real tight areas. And such back savers, which is most important as we get older too! We have two payloaders here on the farm, but there have been many times that we call on my Massey 1855 w/loader to go places no loader has gone before (Trekky Talk lol).
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#6 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 11:37 AM

oooo...a rock rake is an excellent idea, Bruce. We don't have a lot of rocks around here, but there's always trash and bits of concrete to deal with.

Daniel, I know what you mean about the back saving. I keep wondering what kind of condition my body would be in if I'd been using a GT instead of a wheel barrow and shovel for all those years. Would my knees still work more or less like knees? Would I still be building decks and fences?

I'm not sure how useful the training will be, Dave. The guys he's likely to send for training are unlikely to be high-quality. It's hard to get good guys for any kind of construction these days, and when it comes to landscaping it's even harder. That's one of the problems with booms. Still, you never know. I hired a guy with face piercings and neck tattoos one year. He was a philosophy student, of all things. I figured he'd quit halfway through the first day, but as long as I got some rock shovelled I didn't care. Turned out to be one of the best workers I've ever seen, and he was smart enough to figure things out for himself if I left him alone. I hired him for two more summers, then he moved to Toronto.

I don't really blame him for not knowing GTs, Wolfgang. So far he's been in a business where bigger is better. I would expect him to understand that hydraulics can do a lot of work though. I'm sure he'll be impressed if he sees them actually work though.
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#7 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 11:53 AM

Thanks for the story Rev! You do know how to spin a yarn!
It's funny how some guys view our little tractors as "toys" or lawnmowers. They've obviously never had the opportunity to use one for anything but mowing. The smaller size and maneuverability are HUGE assets when it comes to any job that requires a little finesse IMO.
The only thing I might add to the list would be a mounted bradcast spreader for big seeding jobs.

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#8 LilysDad ONLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 12:03 PM

Eventually talk turned to my 420, which my neighbour openly envies. His friend says, "Those are cute machines, but they can't really do much work."


.... and I'm impressed that you didn't take his bait and get into a p**sing contest.
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#9 John@Reliable OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 12:28 PM

I too think you got it covered. The fact remain the equipment is only as good as the operator.

#10 Clippnalawn OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 05:00 PM

I haven't run one yet, but if i was in the business of moving dirt in tight places i think i would find a newer magnatrac to test out.... Their video on you tube shows moving some decent amounts of dirt, and you can use drag implements too.

#11 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 05:01 PM

Lesson one: What's a dipstick.

Lesson two: This is a grease gun.

Rev, I'm sure you will give him his money's worth and more, but the best thing he can do is have you go over preventative maintenance before operation. I wonder how many more of our 30-40-50 year old machines would be out there if the oil was checked and changed religiously.

Good for you for possibly making another convert.

And thanks for the story.
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#12 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted September 10, 2012 - 06:01 AM

Lesson one: What's a dipstick.

Lesson two: This is a grease gun.

Rev, I'm sure you will give him his money's worth and more, but the best thing he can do is have you go over preventative maintenance before operation. I wonder how many more of our 30-40-50 year old machines would be out there if the oil was checked and changed religiously.

Good for you for possibly making another convert.

And thanks for the story.


That's always my first lesson, since it was pounded into me as a child. The second was to fix small problems before they became big problems. We cut, baled and hauled hay with a tractor my grandfather bought (used) when my mother was a child until I was in my late teens.

#13 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted September 10, 2012 - 06:02 AM

.... and I'm impressed that you didn't take his bait and get into a p**sing contest.


Hey, I'm still angling for some free fill. Also, I'm too old to worry much about things like that.




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