I must admit… I have a problem. I am addicted to purchasing nice equipment. But there is a plus side to this… Increased revenue.
26 years ago at the age of 19, I started a small excavation company called Landworks in a small town in Kentucky. I began by leasing a backhoe for 6 months with no family history in the industry or prior experience. In 2011 we expanded into the Nashville TN market. My company has grown to a full service heavy earthmoving, paving, and concrete company serving both residential and commercial clients. We additionally offer all types of asphalt preservation solutions and are a distributor for sealer and various products. In 2020, we made another big move, and moved our entire business and family from Kentucky / Tennessee, to the sunny beaches of Florida.
Let’s face it, high quality employees are getting harder to find. There doesn’t seem to be an answer to this in the near future. The cost of hiring, training, and retaining employees is increasing by the day. Most business owners agree that the biggest obstacle to growing their business is finding good employees. Over the last 10 years, I have obsessed with finding ways to lessen man hours to complete a project. My company’s fleet size has grown from less than 200k to over 4 million USD. We have found that investing in equipment has greatly increased our margins. Less payroll, less accident liability, workers comp, and so on. You can also complete projects in a shorter amount of time meaning less trips (mileage), travel time on the clock, wear and tear on vehicles, and setup / teardown.
Several years ago, I was talking to a friend and colleague in the sealcoating business and we were discussing how he could increase his margins. He was doing about 250k in annual receipts focusing primarily on commercial work. We discussed the advantages of applying sealer with a squeegee machine instead of the manual labor of walking a spray wand from a truck. At first, he couldn’t get over the cost of this type of machine.
After breaking down what it would save him in one year if he eliminated the need for 1 employee to complete that task, he was convinced. The next morning he ordered a new squeegee machine with a spray bay and has never looked back. He shortly thereafter purchased his first ride on blower and saw a huge decrease in the time it took them to get an area clean for that day's sealer application. He now owns 2! Along with buying a driver for his line striper, the end result was his margins quadrupled to near 1 million gross that year while decreasing his employee count by 3!
We have applied this way of thinking to all facets of our business model here at Landworks. It has caused exponential growth in my business. By adding GPS grade control to our dozers for site work, we noted jobs that normally took 8 to 10 hours being completed in 3 to 4 hours. That also included not having to pay someone to check grade for the operator. This additionally equates to a safer job site by not having an employee on the ground close to operating heavy machinery. We have also found that this allows us to turn over a higher quality product to the customer when we are finished.
In the sealcoating division of our business, there are many tools offered that can save you time and money. Drop tankers is a big one for me. I am amazed at how many companies pay employees to wait around for their applicator truck to go get more sealer on a commercial project. Why risk the chance of a collision, breakdown, etc.? Do you utilize payroll companies for filing complicated, time consuming paperwork? From GPS time tracking employees, estimates, payments, electronic signatures… There are many tools out there that can increase your time doing what makes you money.
I challenge you to look at your business model and find ways to automate processes and purchase equipment that increases your productivity, so you can be a more efficient solution for your customers.
Jon Polk is the owner of Landworks LLC., a full service excavating, asphalt paving, and concrete company serving the Santa Rosa Beach and Panama City area in the Panhandle of Florida. You can follow at:
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