Mini skid steer builds efficiencies, new business opportunities
Around three-quarters of the business Jordan Levien manages comprises working in and around the suburban neighborhoods of Bellingham, Washington. That creates the need for a machine with specific size and power features the general manager of Whatcom Lawns, Inc. found only in the Vermeer S925TX mini skid steer.
Not only is the machine helping his team get their jobs done efficiently, it also represents the potential for “a whole new world of work.”
“I was getting fed up with not having the machines available for my team, and I was spending $8,000 or $9,000 a year renting another machine. So, I was frustrated,” said Levien, whose company is based in Lynden, just north of Bellingham, Washington, minutes from the Canadian border.
Those frustrations led Levien to reach out to a longtime industry contact who now works as a sales representative for Vermeer.
“He said he was with Vermeer and I said, ‘Sweet. I want to talk.’ We chatted about some options,” Levien explained.
That conversation is what “sped up the process” toward Levien purchasing a Vermeer S925TX mini skid steer. The S925TX is equipment that his employees now use for small tasks that translate to big revenue potential for Whatcom Lawns. Levien said he went into the purchase knowing of the Vermeer reputation for quality and service, but he found those were just the foundations of the small, powerful machine’s impact on his business.
“We went with Vermeer because that’s what my guys wanted, and happy workers are more productive workers,” Levien said. “We knew its serviceability, knew it would work, and I knew my employees would like it. It will pay for itself, without a doubt.”
The characteristics specific to Levien’s clientele are what led him to the S925TX. A large percentage of Whatcom’s customers live in suburban areas — working around homes with driveways, privacy fences and 40 inch (101.6 cm) wide gates that are difficult for larger machines to navigate. But, smaller machines that work well in those conditions size-wise often lack power, extending the time common jobs take. Having a narrower machine that still packs the 40 horsepower (29.8 kW) punch of the S925TX has solved a lot of problems for Levien and his team.
“The narrow, 36 inch (91.4 cm) width allows us to use a big machine on every property, whereas before we were resigned to less-powerful machines that just can’t do the same work,” he said. “If I didn’t have this machine, I’d lose efficiencies in the field and on the road.”
Part of the efficiency equation lies in the likely 100 man-hours Levien said he’ll save each year by using the S925TX versus renting and managing a comparable machine from a subcontractor. And, the Vermeer mini skid steer will help him offer a lower-cost option for boring jobs, something that has the former lawn and garden sales manager excited.
“There are not a huge number of boring options out there, and they’re all expensive and maintenance-heavy. When boring under a driveway before, it was a labor-heavy job for five hours, and it usually costs $1,500 for each hole bored,” Levien said. “With the S925TX, we can do the same job with two men in an hour and a half.”
Levien admits he’s the kind of business manager who is always looking for ways to keep costs low. Though the S925TX does not have the lowest price available on the market, he said it’s been beyond easy to justify the cost of adding the new machine to Whatcom Lawns’ lineup. In fact, some associated costs have been recouped after a single use of the machine.
“Though we will mainly use it for irrigation trenching and backfilling, we do a lot of soil and debris removal with it,” Levien said. “The only attachments we have on it today it is a bucket, trencher, backfiller and boring tool, which paid for itself in one day. I think the 36 inch (91.4 cm) track is going to open new avenues for Vermeer, and frankly that was the selling feature on this machine. My job is to be a business man, so I’d tell anybody to just run the numbers. If the work is there and the numbers line up, you’re not going to find a better machine than this. As far as versatility and ability, there’s not a machine to match it.”
This article contains third-party observations, advice or experiences that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vermeer Corporation, its affiliates or its dealers. Vermeer, Vermeer Logo and Equipped to Do More are trademarks of Vermeer Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. © 2018 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.