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Wisconsin tree care professional creates new opportunities with stump grinding.
Speed and efficiency – both on the jobsite and on the road between jobs – are major components to a successful stump grinding operation. And they’re both huge priorities for Kenny Schmidt.
At Stump Grinding 4 Less in Muskego, Wisconsin, the name says it all. Schmidt’s only job is grinding stumps, and each of his four crews is at up to 10 jobsites every day. The right combination of people and equipment has enabled Schmidt to carve out a work niche that’s allowed him to serve customers in a growing geographic area since 2012. And it all started with a Vermeer stump cutter.
“It’s a niche I’ve found to work as a subcontractor to grind stumps for tree services,” said Schmidt, a longtime tree care jobsite manager. He started grinding stumps with rented equipment for his father-in-law’s tree care business before buying his own Vermeer SC60TX stump cutter and securing jobs from other nearby tree services in 2012. “We got so busy the first couple of months that I was able to start grinding stumps full time. We started being able to save tree care professionals from paying certified climbers to go out and grind stumps. They were losing money doing that. Now, they can call me, they know my rate and I can take care of their grinding for them so they can move on to the next job.”
In doing so, Schmidt enables tree care service business owners and managers to maximize the highest-revenue work they can do, all while firming up a steady supply of work for him and his four crews that operate three Vermeer SC60TX stump cutters with remotes, SC70TX and SC362 stump cutters, and Vermeer CTX100 and S925TX mini skid steers. Those machines – and the hustle and independence of his employees – are critical to his continued viability in securing work grinding stumps.
“Efficiency and speed are our job. We’re not out there trying to win jobs. We’re out to get jobs done quickly. We have to work on a volume basis. The efficiency of Vermeer machines helps us do that well. Without these machines, it would be impossible,” Schmidt said. “It also takes the right people who want to work hard and move fast. They have to love the job. A lot of days, we’re at a different location every 20 or 30 minutes. Members of my crew are all basically managers; they’ve got their own rigs and their own jobs and they set up their own trucks, so they feel independent. I definitely take care of my crew, and they’ve all been here for years. We’ve been fortunate.”
But it’s not just Schmidt’s crews who take care of his fleet of Vermeer machines. Part of what’s made him achieve such high levels of efficiency is the maintenance service and support from his dealer partners at Vermeer Wisconsin. The team at the Butler, Wisconsin, location knows he’s working his stump cutters more than their conventional tree service customers, and they’re always ready to do what they can to keep him working at the speed he sees necessary to continued success.
“Every machine will have its issues, especially when you’re running them as hard as we are. But if I run into something I can’t fix myself, I’ll call the service manager and he’ll always say, ‘Bring it in and we’ll look at it and let you know what it needs as soon as possible,’” Schmidt said. “A lot of places are at least a week out with service and repair appointments, and they’ll tell me to bring it in and they’ll look at it when they can. I only run Vermeer machines, and the service is part of why I’ve been working side by side with them since 2011.”
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