How to Make a Second Job Pay Off
Three government employees have built successful part-time businesses using compact equipment
A Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) engineer might be planting trees this weekend, while a Minnesota police officer could be making sure he is ready for the next snow removal season, and a California fireman may be digging footings for a room addition on his day off. They are among the tens of thousands working at and enjoying the benefits of a second job with Bobcat® equipment.
In spite of their different careers and locations, the three people featured on the following pages have a lot in common: They are hard-working and successful; they are forward-thinking and customer-oriented; they are excellent managers of their time and their businesses; they like the change of pace and the extra income; and they depend on reliable, versatile Bobcat equipment and strong dealer support.
ENGINEER SETS BAR HIGH FOR EQUIPMENT AND DEALER
To make his part-time landscaping business succeed, Bill Davis has high expectations for the equipment he owns and for the dealer that sells it to him.
A civil engineer with the Pennsylvania DOT, Davis has been in property maintenance and landscaping for 20 years and knows what it's like to own both under performing machines and best-in-class models. He much prefers the latter.
"I have limited time available, so when I get into a machine I want it to operate correctly and be productive," says the owner of Bill Davis Landscaping, New Cumberland, Pa. "I don't have time to deal with something as simple as a door not closing properly."
He actually had a malfunctioning door on a loader he previously owned. That new machine, within the first 40 hours of use, also had an air conditioning system that went bad. At that point he visited the Best Line Leasing store in Mechanicsburg and discovered the Bobcat difference.
"My Bobcat equipment has never let me down," Davis says. "Better machines and a better dealer. Other products and other dealers are okay, but once I began working with Bobcat and Best Line Leasing, I quickly noticed a night-and-day difference."
Looking for opportunities
Switching to Bobcat equipment was just one of the decisions Davis has had to make as he built up his part-time business. "I was always looking ahead," he says.
After mowing neighbors' lawns while in high school, he decided in order to take on more work he needed a commercial mower. That allowed him to handle larger properties.
"As I was able to expand what I could do, more and more business came my way," he says. "I purchased additional mowers and hired people to help me. Clients asked me to do more, so at that point I had to decide to stay small or grow in order to do projects that required equipment. I decided to purchase my first skid-steer loader because that type of machine is the most versatile tool you can have."
Bill Davis added a new M-Series T630 compact track loader to his equipment fleet in 2010.
When Davis switched to Bobcat, he decided he needed a larger loader, in this case, an S300. He still has it along with an MT52 mini track loader, a Bobcat utility vehicle, and an M-Series T630 compact track loader.
"I use the S300 primarily in the yard for handling mulch and other materials," Davis says. "It's ideal for the lifting capacity I need.
"The S300 is a great machine," he continues, "but the improvements Bobcat made with the M-Series loaders are amazing. The new T630 is like nothing I have ever operated before. A truly unbelievable loader."
When Davis installs lawns he uses the compact track loader with the landscape rake attachment to prepare the soil.
"For a loader that size with 18-inch-wide tracks, the maneuverability is superb," he notes. "Two of the most important things you need when operating a loader — visibility and comfort — are where the T630 really excels. The cab-forward design, with substantially larger windows, moves me closer to the work area. The visibility is phenomenal. The spacious cab is very comfortable. The loader performs like a small bulldozer."
"Two of the most important things you need when operating a loader — visibility and comfort — are where the T630 really excels. The cab-forward design, with substantially larger windows, moves me closer to the work area. The visibility is phenomenal."
— Bill Davis
MT52 is 'lifesaver'
Davis originally purchased the MT52 a few years ago when he had to rip out concrete under a two-story deck and replace it with a two-level patio. The post spacing made it impossible to use a full-size loader.
"The MT52 was a lifesaver," he says. "It would have cost me a fortune to do this job by hand. Since then it has proven to be very useful for all kinds of landscaping projects, including planting trees with the 36-inch auger attachment. Another valuable feature of the mini track loader: minimal damage to property."
Davis also owns a Bobcat utility vehicle that he uses around his own 10½-acre property. "With an enclosed, heated cab and snow blade attachment, it's great for plowing snow, especially on my 500-foot-long driveway," he says. "The utility vehicle certainly fits the long Bobcat tradition of quality machines."
His four employees appreciate the value of good equipment. They all have full-time jobs and work part-time for Davis. Depending on their regular hours, some are available during the day, others in the evenings and weekends. Davis is present on every job. "This type of arrangement has worked well for me and my employees," he says.
As a part-time landscaper, Davis' philosophy is: "I don't need the cheapest machine on the market, I need the best. I need reliable equipment and the best dealer support. It's really simple."
BLIZZARD ACCELERATES GROWTH OF POLICE OFFICER'S COMPANY
By the fall of 1991, Brian Beniek had settled into a nice work routine — suburban police officer and owner of a property maintenance and landscaping services company. Working rotating shifts for the Plymouth (Minn.) Police Department enabled him to spend two to four days a week tending to his part-time enterprise — including mowing lawns, landscaping and snow removal.
A record-breaking Halloween storm changed his business forever.
"I did lawn maintenance on the morning of October 31, 1991, and then went to my regular police job," he recalls. "When I got off work at 11 p.m., I started plowing snow, and continued doing it for the next three days. My only sleep was a couple of naps."
The three-day storm dropped more than 28 inches of snow on the Minneapolis-St. Paul area (Plymouth is a suburb just west of Minneapolis). That was 8 inches more than the previous single storm record.
"At that time I had 10 commercial snow removal accounts," Beniek says. "I got a lot of new customers out of that storm and made enough money to purchase an engagement ring for my future wife. Talk about life-changing events."
Beniek began cutting grass at age 13 when his grandfather gave him a lawn mower. His first customer was the Chanhassen (Minn.) post office, an account he still has today. He kept the fledgling business going through high school and college. In 1985 he graduated from college and, unable to find a law enforcement job, expanded his company by adding snow removal services and hiring his first employee.
"My father, George, has been my inspiration, teaching me the value of hard work and listening to the customer," Beniek says. "I would not have been as successful without his support."
The City of Plymouth (population: 72,000) hired Beniek as a police officer in 1988 so he had to scale back his business, turning it into a part-time endeavor.
After the 1991 snowstorm and with all the new customers it brought in, he had little choice but to grow the business. He added managers, other employees and equipment. Today the company has seven full-time, year-round employees, and seasonal help ranging from 20 in the summer to 56 in the winter.
Beniek was renting a Bobcat 773 skid-steer loader from Lano Equipment, Shakopee, Minn., when the Halloween blizzard began. He quickly called the dealership for more loaders to handle the influx of new customers. The next year he purchased his first loader and has added many more Bobcat products since then.
"One thing I like about Bobcat equipment," Beniek says, "is you can buy one machine and do almost any type of job because of all the attachments available. You don't have to purchase multiple machines to do different types of work. And you don't even have to buy attachments — you can rent them. You can really control your equipment expenses with Bobcat because one machine can do such a variety of work."
"One thing I like about Bobcat equipment," Beniek says, "is you can buy one machine and do almost any type of job because of all the attachments available. You don't have to purchase multiple machines to do different types of work. And you don't even have to buy attachments — you can rent them."
— Brian Beniek
Today Beniek Property Services Inc., headquartered in Chanhassen, Minn., operates six loaders and a pair of Toolcat™ utility work machines, along with several attachments, including a snowblower, sweeper, landplane, tree spade, pallet fork and grapple bucket.
One of his loaders is a new M-Series S650, a machine Beniek says is "awesome, with unbelievable comfort and visibility. I have never seen a machine as good as this model."
Brian Beniek pairs his new M-Series S650 skid-steer loader with an angle broom attachment to efficiently clean a parking lot.
Or maybe he has. "Hands down, the Toolcat 5600 is one of the best pieces of equipment available today," he notes. "For landscaping and snow removal, there is nothing better than the utility work machine."
Beniek now has 95 commercial accounts in the winter, 60 in the summer. They include strip malls, campus-type industrial parks, warehouses and retail establishments such as banks and service stations. One of his clients is the Minneapolis-area office of the National Weather Service where 24-hour snow removal service is required.
In the spring, summer and fall, Beniek's company does lawn maintenance; landscape installation; fertilization and weed control; property cleanup; retaining walls and patios; and stripping, seal coating and pavement repair.
Beniek says he is very satisfied where his company is today.
"Since I have a number of good people operating the business for me," I intend to remain with the police department until retirement (he's a sergeant ranking No. 5 in a department of 70 sworn officers).
"The relationship with Bobcat and Lano Equipment, Shakopee, Minn., has been an important part of my success," he says. "Bobcat is the only type of compact equipment I have ever owned and have found it to be very useful and profitable. There's nothing like it."
FIREMAN USES DAYS OFF TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Before Gary McCord began his career as a fireman, he operated McCord's Tractor Service. Once he joined the San Bernardino (Calif.) County Fire Department, his company became his part-time business, and for the past 23 years, he's had success in both.
Today he is a captain with the fire prevention program, supervising the fuel reduction crew that has a large inventory of construction equipment to create fire containment lines, clear access routes, recover fire engines from off-road locations, separate burned from unburned materials and knock down structures damaged by fire or structural collapse.
And, when time is available, he operates his Bobcat S220 skid-steer loader and valuable attachments — a backhoe, auger, hydraulic breaker, combination bucket and Brushcat™ rotary cutter, purchased from Inland Bobcat, Riverside, Calif.
"A lot of firemen have to choose whether they want to work overtime for the department or supplement their income with a secondary occupation," McCord says. "I wanted to do something that is calmer like digging a trench or backfilling a foundation. Also, it enabled me to spend more time with my family instead of being at the fire station for 24 hours. The income was about the same and it was nice to do something different."
The Bobcat business originally helped pay the bills when McCord was going to school — six months at the fire academy, six months in paramedic school and another six months working in hospitals and in the field.
"I purchased my first Bobcat loader ? a 722 ? for snow removal," says the resident of Big Bear City, Calif., a community located at an elevation of 7,000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains.
"Once people discovered I had a loader, I was busy doing residential projects, ranging from tearing down buildings to digging footings to taking out tree stumps. When I became a full-time fireman, I had to schedule my time carefully. Still, the work with my Bobcat loader has always been an economic success."
The S220 is the seventh Bobcat loader McCord has owned.
"One of my beliefs is that there is always one more job waiting for me and my loader," he says. "The machine is so versatile because of all the available Bobcat attachments."
Even though his attachments may sit idle for several weeks, McCord knows they are a good investment and important to his success. "When someone calls with a job where I can use one of my attachments, I'm ready," he says. "Every year the attachments pay for themselves all over again."
"When someone calls with a job where I can use one of my attachments, I'm ready. Every year the attachments pay for themselves all over again."
— Gary McCord
When an earthquake hit his area, several houses fell off their foundations. To break up the concrete into removable sizes, McCord was on the spot with his hydraulic breaker. "Having the loader and the breaker readily available kept me very busy."
These days McCord works four 10-hour shifts a week, which requires him to try to schedule his construction projects far in advance.
"To have a successful second career, you need to do what you say you are going to do, keep in contact with customers and let them know if there is the possibility of a work conflict," he says. "And you need reliable equipment because you don't want a breakdown after the customer has waited patiently. Plus, I only have so much time to get the work done before I have to go back to my regular job.
"My work with Bobcat equipment has always provided a good secondary income," McCord says. "It has been fun, but it wouldn't be that much fun if I didn't make money doing it."
What I have learned about operating a part-time business
Bill Davis, Pennsylvania highway engineer and landscaper using Bobcat equipment
"If you can afford it, you should look ahead to where you want to be and purchase the equipment you need to get to that place. That will allow you to be ready when an opportunity arises, whether it's a month from now or six months. Without the right equipment available at the right time, you miss out."
What I have learned about operating a part-time business
Brian Beniek, Minnesota police officer and owner of a property maintenance company using Bobcat equipment
"As my part-time business grew, the biggest challenge was to allocate enough time to manage it. When revenue got close to a million dollars a year, it became a real struggle. I was forced to look at the company differently. Luckily, I hired an office manager and two other managers to operate the business for me. If you cannot be there full time, you better have good people working for you."
What I have learned about operating a part-time business
Gary McCord, California fireman and Bobcat skid-steer loader owner-operator
"Productive, reliable equipment is so important when you only have a limited number of hours to work. That's why I only use genuine Bobcat parts. I order from my dealer, which is located 40 miles away, and the parts are here the next day. At the fire department we have some other brands of equipment and over the years have had some disasters getting parts in a timely manner. I remember machines being down for a month just waiting for parts. No business — especially a part-time one — needs a problem like that."
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