Stock up now

Spend your money wisely on equipment as the year winds down.

December 12, 2013
Stacie Zinn Roberts

Every year, Josh Schmieder, president of Josh Lawn Care & Landscaping in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., spends about $4,000 to $5,000 on new tools for his business. The company offers maintenance services in the Empire State’s Rochester and Finger Lakes Region.

Beginning about the first of December, once all landscaping activities have ceased, every truck in the Josh fleet is inventoried, and every piece of equipment is brought into the shop to be checked for needed maintenance or repairs.

“Handheld and backpack blowers, shovels, wheelbarrows, sprayers, things that have a one-year lifespan and get worn out, as we go through and inventory every trailer and look at each tool, we see if it’s worth repairing or replacing,” Schmieder says.

By the end of February or early March, with the help of his head mechanic, he’ll put together a list of needed equipment and go shopping.

“Rakes, tape measures, pruners, trimmers, weed wackers, leaf blowers, squares, levels, string lines, chain saws – we look at all of those things. It depends on what’s worn out, what’s worth saving and what’s worth buying new,” Schmieder says.

He’ll also make large equipment purchases. This year he’s weighing the options of buying a new truck to switch out one of the vehicles in his 10-truck fleet. He’s also considering the purchase of a track loader to replace one that’s showing its age.

“We’re looking at these larger purchases just because of the amount of money they’re costing us to keep them in service. They’re getting worn out and tired, constantly nickel and diming us. The amount we put into them is more than the amount it would cost to buy a new one, plus the amount of down time, crew time, and time to repair them. They will be replaced,” he says.

Exactly when the purchases will be made depends in part on advice from his accountant to see if it makes sense “from a profitability and tax standpoint” to do it before the end of the year, or to wait until closer to springtime.
Jason Brooks, owner of Jay-Crew Landscape in Muncie and Indianapolis, Indiana, made end of year equipment purchases in the last two years “at a discount, and tax wise we had to spend some money.” But this year, he’s holding off.

Jay-Crew made major investments in 2013 to cultivate the company’s presence in the Indianapolis marketplace. “Our business is growing and expanding. The Indianapolis deal cost us money. We hired another salesperson. As it relates to purchasing, there’s just no advantage this year. Almost half of our business is coming from Indianapolis, so we invested in growth rather than equipment,” Brooks says.

Mike Stewart, Jr., president of Stewcare in Delaware, Ohio, has already made his year-end purchases. Just before Thanksgiving, he bought a mower for use in the 2014 mowing season. This piece of equipment adds to his existing six-piece fleet of mowers.

“We’re adding a seventh Grasshopper for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is we offer lawn aerations and Grasshopper has an attachment, a PTO driven AERA-vator, to decompact the soil. It’s not a core aerator. The nice thing about this AERA-vator is that it doesn’t pull or leave behind plugs. It doesn’t do that. It has tines that vibrate and oscillate. It opens up a hole and decompacts and fractures the soil.

"It’s perfect for general lawn maintenance and we can be more efficient in our lawn mowing. We want to get to eight Grasshoppers, four crews with two guys and two machines on a crew, to be able to expand and add some business within five years,” Stewart says.

“The other reason we bought the seventh mower now was that Grasshopper is offering a spring layaway program. We put money down in the fall. We got a good price from our local distributor and took advantage of the layaway at 2013 prices,” Stewart says. “When the incentives and offers are good, we like to take advantage of them.”