For the first 20 years Frank Spinosa was in the snow removal business, he typically followed the same routine — hire and train a group of new employees in the fall, let them all go at the end of the snow season and start all over again the next fall. Some of his crew (usually construction workers) would come back; others would not.
“Five years ago I decided I was getting tired of looking for qualified help and having to train new people every year,” said Spinosa, the owner of Tufts Inc., in Medford, Mass. “Having full-time, year-round employees was a complete change in how the company was going to operate. The challenge was finding enough work to keep the staff busy after the snow was gone.”
Spinosa purchased additional equipment and began adding services in order to maintain a permanent staff of 12 to 15 employees.
“So far things have turned out for the better,” he said. “Full-time employees are more dependable and do a better job of operating and maintaining the equipment.”
In addition to snow removal, Tufts does the following:
• Site preparation, excavation and utility installation
The company works for both contractors and homeowners, preparing sites for construction and installation of water and sewer services. It also does demolition and basement and road excavation.
• Soil remediation
Tufts uses its wheel loaders and excavators to remove unwanted or contaminated soil and sand, so that it can be properly disposed of or cleansed for reuse.
• Trucking services
The company’s fleet of trucks hauls recycling materials, including contaminated soil and crushed glass, to approved disposal sites and delivers clean fill, stone, gravel and loam to construction sites.
• Equipment rentals
Loaders and excavators, along with a licensed operator, are available for daily, weekly and monthly rentals. The company also provides on-site service when equipment is rented.
Tufts has done projects ranging from moving a few wheelbarrows of dirt for a homeowner to removing 1,000 cu. yds. of contaminated soil for a contractor.
• Snowfall drives revenue
Snow removal is still the most important business for the company.
“If there is enough snow, it could account for up to 60 percent of our business,” said Spinosa, as he closed out the busy 2010 – 2011 winter season working for dozens of large clients throughout the Boston area. At one time snow removal accounted for 100 percent of his income.
Among the equipment he added when building up the year-round business were two powerful Doosan wheel loaders purchased from Bobcat of Boston. Both machines — a DL200 and DL250 high lift — were originally brought on board for snow removal, but Spinosa immediately saw how valuable they would be in other applications.
“This is the type of equipment I can use and make money with throughout the year,” he said. “Besides generating income, I was looking for wheel loaders that were reliable, could handle a variety of jobs and had strong dealer service and support.”
This past winter he also used a third wheel loader, another DL200, which was leased with an option to buy.
The Doosan wheel loaders were stationed at three of his larger commercial accounts. At these locations the snow has to be hauled away to an asphalt lot where it eventually melts.
“These machines, equipped with snow pushers, allow us to complete our work really fast,” Spinosa said. “Each wheel loader takes the place of two pickup trucks with plows. Matching the right equipment to the requirements of the site allows us to price the job correctly. That’s the key to a successful snow removal business.”
Once the snow is plowed off to the side, the pusher attachment is replaced with a 3 cu. yd. (2.3 cu m) bucket on the DL200 machines and a 3.5 cu. yd. (2.6 cu m) bucket on the DL250. The snow is loaded into trucks and hauled away.
“The DL250 high lift machine allows us to fill trucks faster and to heap the snow higher,” Spinosa said. “It lifts 1½ feet higher than the previous brand of wheel loader we used. I no longer have to worry about damage to our trucks.”
Spinosa said his operators really like the wheel loaders.
“The machines are easy to use, the cab is spacious and visibility is excellent,” he said. “I like the fact that I am getting a better machine for a better price. They are very good machines and a very good value.”
Today's top stories