Have Stump Cutter, Will Travel
Article provided in collaboration with Haverland Tree and Stump Removal
It’s never too late to get into the stump removal business, as 70-year-old Marlowe Haverland demonstrates every day as he drives across the North Dakota prairie from one small town to another.
He’s done this for two decades, beginning at age 50, after operating a vacuum cleaner repair shop in Abercrombie, N.D., a small town about 30 miles (48.3 km) from Fargo.
“After I sold my shop, a friend asked me to run a stump cutter for him,” says Haverland. “I did it for about a year and enjoyed it. He said I paid for his machine. I thought maybe it’s time to buy my own stump cutter. My only regret is I wish I had started in this business 20 years sooner.”
He purchased a Vermeer SC630B stump cutter and very soon realized it was much easier to operate and maneuver than the one he had been running for his friend. “After I purchased a second Vermeer machine about five years ago, I sold the first one and it’s still being used by another tree care contractor,” says Haverland.
After 20 years in the stump removal business, Haverland Tree and Stump Removal has a good clientele built up, working within a 100-mile (160.9 km) radius of Abercrombie. At times that takes him into South Dakota, Minnesota and close to the Canadian border but how does he make going long distances to take out a couple of stumps worthwhile financially?
“After I get done with my work, I drive around town, going down back alleys, looking for additional stumps to remove,” says Haverland. “I almost always find more jobs. I went to one town and stayed there for two days cutting stumps. People heard my machine operating or saw me when they drove by. Several came over and said they had a couple of stumps to take out.”
Haverland’s technique is to knock on doors and ask people if they want a price on taking out a stump. “About 75 to 85 percent of them will say yes, adding that they have been looking for someone,” he says. “A lot of stumps don’t get taken out because homeowners can’t find anyone who will do it. The key for me is being able to tell them a price. Otherwise, it’s difficult to get people interested because they figure it might cost too much.”
Haverland intends to remain in the stump removal business for another five years, continuing his formula for success — showing up on time when people call, providing a fair price and being willing to travel wherever there is work.