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Have Stump Cutter, Will Travel

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.

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There are 7 comments.

  1. Ben says:

    Yeah I’ve done a good bit of door to door sales over the years of starting up a tree care business in various locales, and I can attest, a stump grinder is a client-getter! There is no easier cold sell than grinding a stump for fair price. Curious neighbors come around to get you grinding their stumps, your card gets passed around, confidence gets built, and money gets maid. Plus those same people call me back later for other tree work. Selling a stump grinding job is WAY easier than selling a tree trimming job, and it gives the customer time enough to get to know you and know who to call later when they need other tree work done. It’s rare that I’m not busy, but when I am, I like to just go knock on doors with the stump grinder. I just say “Hey I saw you have a stump in your yard. I have a stump GRINDER on my trailer, and was wondering if you want some help.” (The word help is important!) You want it to be clear that you’ve shown up out of the blue to offer HELP!) When they ask how much, give them a super fair deal. Usually they tack on more work, neighbors come over, and before you know it, you’ve had a full day of work and scattered your card around to a bunch of new, satisfied customers.

    • Doug says:

      I would recommend having the tree stumps located for utilities before grinding. This takes 2 working days to be completed. I would not recommend immediately grinding any stump without knowing what’s under the surface.

    • Vermeer Corporation says:

      Ben – Who doesn’t love help!?

      Doug – that’s great advice.

  2. Robert Higgins says:

    Keep UP the good work that is what I call a go getter and for that you have work YOU don’t wait for IT to come to you God bless YOU……I would be dead IF I didn’t door knock I’m very good at picking up work when I’m not getting the phone calls….

  3. Vermeer Corporation says:

    Always nice to hear from hard working individuals! Thanks for your comments!

  4. Tim says:

    Great advice its kinda like fishing no its exactually like fishing but trying to catch money great approach

  5. Stump ‘n’ Grind says:

    I would like to read more about this topic. Please keep posting more info so that we will keep us updated. For more info:- http://stumpandgrind.co.nz/

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