Tired of the taxing, manual work, and sick of forking out coin to hire various earthmoving machines, Joe from Great Northern Landscapes decided to improve his trade and his business potential by investing in his own ride-on mini skid steer. Having tried and tested many before, he went with what he swears is the best machine on the market; the Ditch Witch SK1050.
Just before the turn of the century Joe Washington found himself fall into the role as an apprentice landscaper in his hometown in the Blue Mountains.
“I went and worked for Mackenzie Landscapes,” he said, remembering his initiation. “He had four young guys on – we would have been 19 – and I worked for him for a couple of years. That was my first start in it.”
For Joe it was all about diversity and on-the-job experience in those early years. He moved on to work with other professionals in other fields as he continued to grow his landscaping knowledge.
He honed his skills with a traditional stone mason, a pool coping expert, a paver, as well as other landscapers.
“I’ve worked for lots of people,” he continued. “I think it’s really good to be able to work a variety of jobs with different specialists to learn your trade. I saw everyone’s different methods for doing things, and then I could take from that.”
Having developed a strong background,in 2006 Joe went out on his own and started up Great Northern Landscapes. Based in Lismore, the company covers the whole of the Northern Rivers of New South Wales in regions such as Byron, Tweed, Ballina and Casino. As testament to his training, the business provides a variety of landscape construction services and delivers on small residential jobs as well as larger commercial projects. Over the years the company has grown and now Joe hires his own staff and contractors.
“I’ve usually got two or three guys with me,” he said, “or at busy times I can have six. It just depends what’s coming up.”
With more work rolling in and the business evolving, Joe had to make some big decisions about his equipment and work flow.
“Being a landscaper you do have to move material; gravel, sand, top soil,” he stated. “So what I used to do, if I thought the job was big enough and warranted it, I’d hire a skid steer. I was hiring a lot and it got to the point where I was in there twice a week and the fees were adding up. I did the math and found by buying one outright my repayments could be cheaper than regularly hiring.”
There were other benefits to owning his own machine. In times when there was a job where a mini skid steer would have come in handy for a couple of hours, Joe would weigh up the options and instead often do the task by hand rather than pay for the whole hire fee.
“It would be back-breaking,” he described the physical ultimatum. “We’d roll up our sleeves and shovel and wheelbarrow the whole lot out in the heat and it would take hours longer.”
Knowing that having his own machine on hand would help better his business, Joe enquired with Ditch Witch distributor, ELB Equipment, about their range of stand-on mini skid steers. He was recommended the SK1050 model for its small size yet powerful capabilities. He was then given a breakdown of running and repayment costs and the offer of a free demonstration.
Joe recollected the day: “When Andrew [from ELB] brought the Ditch Witch up to our site to demo it for us we’d been building the back of this wall up with aggregate using this other skid steer. We’d been going up this really steep hill and we had to use steel ramps to be able to get the machine up there. I just happened to have taken all the ramps away the day Andrew brought the Ditch Witch around and so I jumped on it and just went straight up the hill. It didn’t need any help and it did it with ease.
“I’ve used several other skid steers over my time, and in my opinion they’re all inferior to the Ditch Witch. It’s just on a totally different level.”
Not only did the output performance of the machine immediately impress Joe, the responsive handling was also second-to-none.
“It’s so easy to operate,” he reported. “Not only is the Ditch Witch easier to control than some of the other stand-on skid steers I’ve used, you can manoeuvre the machine at the same time as controlling your bucket, which was difficult with the set-up on some of the other machines.”
The Ditch Witch SK1050 that Joe purchased came with a four-in-one bucket and a couple of different-sized augers.
Since then the Great Northern Landscapes’ owner has already bought a handy tree grinding attachment, and with over 20 other attachments on offer there’s plenty more on his wish list.
At 1065mm wide, the SK1050 model is the perfect size to get through gates and side entrances. It has the ability to squeeze and turn in small spaces, power through a multitude of jobs using a variety of attachments, and outperform all other working machines in its class. As Joe Washington attests, the compact machine is a real game-changer for landscapers.
For Joe and Great Northern Landscapes the Ditch Witch is not only improving the work flow of their regular jobs, it’s also opening doors and enabling his business to get even more work than was previously possible.
“I like the variety of the work we do,”
Joe concluded. “Everything that I’ve learnt over the years I now offer as a service. I see the Ditch Witch mini loader as a service in itself due to the fact that it’s such a capable machine and that not many landscapers in the Northern Rivers has one.”
For more on Great Northern Landscapes go to www.greatnorthernlandscapes.com.au.