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  #1  
Old 08-07-2005, 04:06 PM
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Default Independent welders, need some advice...

Well currently I am unemployed, I have been unemployed for a couple months now, willingly. I let my cousin have my job for the summer because I was lined up to start with the railroad but that fell through. I planned on going back to my job, but now they dont want me to work, they want their nephew to work there.

So I was in the tractor today thinking about this guy who just died recently, he used to do the welding for all the farmers. He was really good at welding and getting the job done if you could get him out there, he was pretty lazy and in fact for the past couple years he hasnt done any welding at all except for people he owed.

Basically now everyone is forced to drag their equipment 25+ miles to someone else to get welded, pretty big change from when they could get it done right out in the field.

I thought about getting some training for welding and starting a welding outfit here. Maybe have it all ready by next summer.

Now I got some questions for people who are already doing this or have done this.

How much do you figure out what to charge people. Is it by the hour or is it by the job. He would basically just charge by the job, but when the job was done, but then again he didnt pay taxes for the past 20+ years and he would only collect when he needed the money.

One thing with working on farm equipment, you may look at something, say well I can do this for this amount, then you get into tearing something apart and it hasnt been maintaned properly and it gets to be a even longer job.

Next thing, equipment. First things I know I would need to buy, welder, torch, compressor, then a lot of the misc tools such as BFHs, grinders, chop saw, etc. And I would probably buy a fairly new if not new 3/4 - 1 ton pickup and build a flat bed for everything. A decent vehicle that will last at least 5 years.

Anything else you can think of?

Any rough idea of a good amount of start up money to get?

Also his shop was or is going to be siezed by the IRS, I pretty much want to buy this wether I go through this venture or not. The shop is in really good condition other than the fact that he hasnt used it in over 3 or 4 years, hasnt been clean enough to get anything in there for over 5 years. I was in there talking to his son while they were in there, and the floor is covered in anywhere between 1 to 2 feet of garbage. But the cement is good, insulation and metal is all good in there. Fairly easy enough to get in with a skidsteer and clean it out like you were cleaning crap out of a barn.

But if I got the shop then too I would be able to keep working on equipment during the winter in there for people.

And then there are a bunch of little misc things he would make during winter like metal clips for hanging sucker rod for cattle ranchers.

So basically I think its a worthwhile venture because the market is there.

Looking for any advice anyones got.
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Old 08-07-2005, 05:34 PM
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Dallas B Dallas B is offline
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Where are you From????
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  #3  
Old 08-07-2005, 05:54 PM
E718 E718 is offline
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If the market is there, go for it. It is not easy to build a reputation for good work. It takes a lot of money to start up. You will need some steel inventory, float accounts recievable, rent, electric bill, suppliers, on and on. The first customers in your door will be the ones thrown out of other places mainly due to not paying in a timely manner. Keep your accounts current, easy to say and hard to do.
We have a couple excellent guys here and customers will drive 60 miles for quality work.
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Old 08-07-2005, 06:08 PM
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I would say this...

If you are doing work for farmers, keep this in mind...

You can market by dropping cards off at the house, and they will call you. they mostly do contracts on a handshake and will be as honest as can be.. but if you screw them, or are not fair with them...(not that you would) it would absolutely ruin you.

If you did well, I can guarantee you would have more business than you could handle.

keep that in mind when you go out. It would be a good choise and you may not have to worry so much about the insurance aspect of things.. though you would be crazy not to have it, since you could burn their barn and fields down with one stary spark.

Good luck man, even if you did it on the side... It would be worth it.
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Old 08-07-2005, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dallas B
Where are you From????

Sorry I thought I had that filled in. I fixed it.

Well its like this, if I do this I will have insurance, that is a given with any business that you need insurance.

The place I live, I have grown up here my entire life. I know more of the farmers for a 50+ mile radius than I know the people who live in the towns.

As far as marketing, all I would have to do is mention that I am going to do this in my local bar, and it will spread to at least 4, if not 6 + of the surrounding towns within a 30 mile radius, and 2 of the cities that are each 20 miles from me.

Rent, well I wont be paying that, I would buy that shop straight up, would have to since the IRS doesnt have a rental plan. But there would be property taxes on that I guess, and electrical. If I cant get that shop I would more than likely go without a shop till I got off the ground, then i would build one on existing land I own.

And steel inventory, I dont know how much I would have to have on hand, a lot of his repairs didnt call for it, and if it did he would just buy it on demand.

One of the main things is I would have to get training. While I may think I do good enough work for myself, Im not one of those guys who claim to be a expert and go into doing jobs for people when clearly they arent qualified.
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Old 08-08-2005, 06:29 AM
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Pile Buck Pile Buck is offline
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Hi AntiBling, first off let me start off here by telling you that I’m the worst estimator on the face of the earth, if I tell you it’s gonna take 4-hours, you can bet the farm it will take 8 to 12-hours. The sad part, I’ve been doing this kind of work before graduating high school, one would think I would have learned something by now Ok, some things I have learned, by working with estimators! To start off if you do not have your own records, there is a series of books for estimating.
RS Means Company, INC.
Construction Consultants & Publishers
100 Construction Plaza
P.O. Box 800
Kingston, MA 02364-0800
(617) 585-7800

My company had been around for something like 90-years before I started with them, so they pretty much had their numbers down to an art. Time cards are a really good asset for tracking how much time it takes to do a task. Daily reports are another one. My company had a list of codes that they used to break down a project, then add up the score throw in their profit margin, and roll the dice. There is no way in the world I can remember them all but this should give you an idea.

1301 = Labor
1302 = outside labor (subs)
1303 = inside equipment rental
1304 = outside equipment rental
1305 = Fuel, oil, grease
1306 = permanent materials (non taxable)
1307 = taxable materials
1308 = Overhead

One of the strangest things I ever seen working with estimators, we were bidding the San Mateo Bridge in the SF Bay Area, I forget how many million the engineer estimate was, but do remember we had $250, 000.00 in labor estimating this bridge, an amendment came out to the spec’s of the project. The CEO of my company threw in the towel; he would not bid the project just because of the wording change. So he threw away $250,000.00 dollars because of some weasel words

Last edited by Pile Buck; 08-08-2005 at 07:14 AM.
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Old 08-08-2005, 06:44 AM
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dirtdigger dirtdigger is offline
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Well, If you have the drive and desire to be self-employed , Go For It! But it's a constant uphill struggle. (I've been in business for 15 yrs now) Just when you think thinkgs are going good, BAM - insurance bill comes, or something breaks down or whatever. the only good thing about it is you are in control, and sucess or failure is up to you. I work for farmers here in Michigan, and although I don't do much custom welding (although I do some) I find farmers to be good to work for. most of my guys are honest and have the funds to do a project before they start. when I get done, I take them a bill and get paid. ( a typical drainage job can run from $5,000 to $30,000) One thing I found out if you are working for someone you don't know or havent worked for before, ask around (neighbors, equipment dealers, local mill) If they are going to try and screw you , they've screwed someone else and you can find out fast by checking around.

As far as custom welding goes, my brother has a small shop here and struggles. He does alot of work for the amish, so it's little projects here and there, and they always try to jew you down of get something for nothing. He charges $35 / hr weather it's in the shop or on-site. I think he was about ready to throw in the towel, but he got onto a mega-dairy (2,500 head) expansion and is doing site work like digging in waterlines and fabing all the gates and stuff.

hope that helps.
anyone in business can give you horror stories all day, but most of them (us) wouldn't trade it for anything.
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Old 08-08-2005, 08:23 AM
tonycamco tonycamco is offline
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been on my own for 25 yars some days are good ...some not so great but otherwise its been great. sometimes the money comes hard sometimes real easy.. but i realy enjoy of what im doing


tony
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  #9  
Old 08-08-2005, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtdigger
As far as custom welding goes, my brother has a small shop here and struggles. He does alot of work for the amish, so it's little projects here and there, and they always try to jew you down of get something for nothing.

wouldn't they try to "Amish" him down?
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Old 08-08-2005, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake
wouldn't they try to "Amish" him down?
<chuckle> that was my thought, too.
Wait - maybe Jews try to Amish you down?
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