Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

When Is the Right Time to Buy a Loader? Skid-Steer or Compact Utility Loader?

Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

When Is the Right Time to Buy a Loader? Skid-Steer or Compact Utility Loader?

Article excerpt

Not enough time? Not enough labor? Jobs too big? Your body beginning to give out--just a little bit?

It might be time to consider buying a skid-steer loader or compact utility loader (also known as a mini-skid-steer). "Productivity is what starts to drive someone to look for a machine," says Mike Beaufait, product manager for Compact Power, Fort Mill, S.C. "At some point, a contractor who doesn't have the proper equipment has to drop his profit margin so much that it's hard to compete. Productivity and fatigue push him to go looking at a solution.

"Five years ago, this same guy went looking for a skid-steer because he wasn't convinced that the mini-skids would do it. But today he typically looks at both."

Mini-skids can't do everything a full-size skid-steer can do, and--conversely--skid-steers can't do everything a mini-skid can do.

"The first thing a sales person will ask is what kind of jobs you're doing," Beaufait continues. "If a guy's working for builders on rough sites, then the next thing he asks is how big the lots are and what you're putting into the landscape."

If the prospective buyer indicates that he's doing mainly loader work in bigger lots, the salesman will direct him toward full-size skid-steers, Beaufait asserts. "But most general landscapers who do residential installation, renovation, hardscape and irrigation should look at the compact utility loader first."

Just working on big lots doesn't guarantee that a full-size skid-steer will be right for you.

"There might be a large project, but there might be some site constraints," notes Jon Kuyers, compact solutions for Vermeer Manufacturing, Pella, Iowa. "Many multi-family dwellings or condos are built with almost a zero lot-line, so a mini-skid is chosen. For a lot of contractors, it also depends on support equipment. If he doesn't have a huge truck or trailer to haul the loader, he might choose the mini. …

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