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Old 08-06-2006, 07:22 AM
iandad's Avatar
Acorn
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Hi all,

I have been lurking for several months now and have really appreciated all the info I have gleaned from the various forum topics. Good stuff! I have also read all the caveats and warnings about the competitive nature of the biz.

I am (yet another) career changer looking to do a start up. I have spent the last six months working at a VERY prestigious retail/wholesale location. I have had the opportunity to get really informed on plant material and have worked with some really knowledgeable folks. I am studying for the state Nursery Cert to help document my woody ID skills. I have learned far more from working at this place than I could by sitting in a classroom studying Dirr. I have the opportunity to interact with a lot of customers who are pro designers and installers and I seem to know almost as much as they do at this point about plant material, growing conditions, etc.

But.

My end game is to start up a design and install outfit, specializing in high end materials for affluent retirees. The market is there, no doubt about it! The local tech college offers Landscape Design classes starting in January and I think I this will enable me to at least get an intro on the drawing/basic design skills. I have a good �eye� for design and pretty good drafting skills already. I plan on taking these classes in addition to those in irrigation and pesticide/herbicide applications.

My plan is to hop over to a large full service (retail, maint, design, and install) oufit to get some more experience. Yes, it pays @#$% but I can deal with that for now. I would probably start out doing maintenance, which albeit grueling is a good place to get my feet wet as it were and soak up as much knowledge as possible.


A little more info:
  • College educated
  • Very strong computer skills
  • Twenty years experience working outside in VERY physically demanding outdoor environments.
  • Mid forties, excellent physical condition.
  • Financially able to withstand the entry-level pay scale, for now...
  • Have access to various sources of capital when I feel I am ready to start my own gig.

I think my plan is a good mix of practical knowledge and "book learning".

Any comments/suggestions on my plan?

Last edited by iandad; 08-06-2006 at 07:25 AM..
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Old 08-06-2006, 01:15 PM
Dale Wiley's Avatar
B&B Tree
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
USDA
Posts: 807
Dale Wiley is an unknown quantity at this point
Don't pigeon hole yourself into one market niche.

Know your financial requirements.

I have a package of materials I can send you if you get me your e mail address.

Budgeting, estimating, sales tracking etc.
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Dale Wiley - Owner / Project Manager

Western Sports Turf
Landscape Specialty Services
Wetland Restoration Nursery

Forest Grove, OR
503-357-7202 - Phone
503-359-9294 - Fax

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You know that on Judgement Day, all the gold and silver is gonna melt away ...

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Old 08-27-2006, 07:22 PM
Seedling
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Posts: 65
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Dale,
You always come through for us!!! Hope all is well.
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Old 08-27-2006, 07:47 PM
Dale Wiley's Avatar
B&B Tree
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
USDA
Posts: 807
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Hey Rick... good to see you on there... click on my website and you can see what we been up too...

its all changing and happening real fast..but it is all good....
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Dale Wiley - Owner / Project Manager

Western Sports Turf
Landscape Specialty Services
Wetland Restoration Nursery

Forest Grove, OR
503-357-7202 - Phone
503-359-9294 - Fax

Semper Fi

You know that on Judgement Day, all the gold and silver is gonna melt away ...

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Old 08-27-2006, 08:19 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Have you investigated what the average income of a landscape maint/install company is and after how many years in business that income was achieved??

I am not doubting any skills here. I am just saying that the key to your business is not going to be you working in the field yourself. It's going to be getting the rigth people to do the work.

Have you had a chance to investigate the employee market in your area? Have you considered the amount of time it will take to first, find the right employees, second, train the right employees, and third....keep the right employees.

I'm 32.....been doing this for 12 years. I have a degree in landscaping. All I can say is, at your age, I don't think I would make the decision I made 5 years ago to go on my own. I know you may be in great physical shape, but I honestly can say.....if a 40 year old and a 20 year old came on a interview for me, I would definitely take age into consideration. This is HARD work. I cringe when I think about how many sq ft of pavers I've laid in my life already......and it is taking a toll on my body already. If I am still doing the physical side of this work to the extent I am now, I may not be able to move at age 50.

I'm not sure what your background is, but starting from scratch like it sounds you are, it is going to be a lot of hard, backbreaking work without the right people.

Also, at the stage you are at, you are going to need some connections to get things rolling quick. It takes years and years to establish a solid customer base and reputation. By the time this happens, you may be in your 50's.

I've said it before......things happen quickly for some, but not for most.

I wish you all the best and can give you any help you need, as will others here....but, make sure you think this thing out. There are few people in this industry who haven't been in since their teens, and some of them struggle still.

It is a tough business, but a rewarding one if you get it right. I just don't know if I could make a drastic career choice at the point you are at without a definite focus.

Also, and I think others will agree. Looking at things from the employee side of the table is not a real view of what goes on. What you know in the field is only half the story. You may know plants, install work, etc....but, do you know how to run a business? At the stage you are starting at, there will be little time to learn as you go, and little flexibility to make the mistakes that many of us have.

My best advice.......drop all the plant id and design classes. Take business classes. Join up with the local business organizations and talk to people in business...not just landscape business....any business. Tell them your plan, show them your numbers. Talk to them until blue in the face, network with everyone you can. Then, run the numbers, over and over again. Figure out what it is YOU want to make.......at least what you HAVE to make to be happy. Then run that number in your business equation and see for yourself how many lawns you will have to mow, how many pavers you will have to lay, or how many 3 gal shrubs you have to plant to make that number......the answer may shock you.

Banks don't care about what time of the year a plant flowers. And payments don't get made with certifcation documents. Like any other business, it is a number game, and don't ever forget it.

Last edited by PSUscaper; 08-27-2006 at 08:47 PM..
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:03 PM
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Pray hard and Pray often.
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