Running a successful landscaping company takes imagination. Where some may see a bleak backyard, Andrew Weilbacher sees a potential outdoor oasis.
“I like watching a project come together,” says Andrew, owner of Weilbacher Landscaping Pools LLC. “We tackle all kinds of landscaping projects, from smaller landscaping jobs to total redesigns or pool installations. Odds are if it’s landscaping-related, we can do it.”
This can-do attitude, an unshakeable work ethic and a few hard-earned client connections helped Andrew kickstart his company at age 19.
“I’ve always enjoyed working outside. After I finished high school, I worked for two landscaping companies, and I graduated college with a degree in construction management,” he says. “By the time I left school, the housing market was booming. My dad has experience in that area, so I saw it as an opportunity. I made business cards and worked for some of Dad’s clients he’d built houses for in the past. We started with smaller jobs, but soon I was getting busier and busier. I hired one guy, then two guys; and 20 years later here we are with a full crew taking on a wide range of projects.”
Building Pools and More Pools
With 20 years of experience under his belt, Andrew is skilled at adjusting his company’s services to match the needs of his customers and the landscaping industry. But when COVID-19 hit in the spring of 2020, he didn’t know what to expect.
“Before the pandemic, we were just getting fired up for the season,” he says. “We kicked things off at the beginning of March, so we had two pool sites going and new job requests were coming in. But once word got out that the virus had reached the States, all our calls came to a halt. My only thought was that I had to keep my crew busy. We were finishing up those pool jobs, working on the shop and holding out hope that this would pass quickly.”
Like many business owners, Andrew and his crew were preparing for the worst. But a few weeks into the shutdown, something surprising happened.
“By the third week, our phone started ringing again. Not only that, but the calls were flooding in,” he says. “I was surprised because this turned out to be our busiest summer yet. A lot of families realized public pools were shut down, so they wanted to install their own in order to keep their kids busy throughout the summer. We went from giving probably three or four pool bids a night to suddenly being booked out until the following year.”
It’s All About the Right Equipment
With business at an all-time high, Andrew was determined to deliver the same high-quality service his customers had come to expect. To reach that goal, he needed the right equipment and the right crew.
“We’re a smaller operation. I’ve found that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to your crew,” he says. “Whenever we have six or more guys, there are always a few standing around. So we’re not necessarily getting much more done even with a larger crew. I have three guys now, and we do one pool every other week. It works out pretty well for us to stay small and skilled.”
The right equipment helps Andrew keep his crews small and efficient – exactly the way he likes to run his jobsites.
“The way I look at it, why would I spend $50,000 on a guy who is standing around all year, when I can put that money toward a machine? It can get a lot more done, and it shows up for work every day when I need it,” he says.
Meeting the COVID-19 Pool Demand
Having all their jobs lined up until the summer of 2021 means Andrew and his crew need machines they can count on. With the help of their equipment fleet, including two Bobcat T650 compact track loaders and an E55 compact excavator, they have the maneuverability and versatility needed to keep customer satisfaction high.
“We use the T650s and the E55 pretty regularly on our pool installation jobs,” he says. “We’re also getting ready to buy an MT85 mini track loader, because they’re good machines that fit in everybody’s backyard. We want equipment that can work wherever it’s needed and do a lot of different jobs as well. One day we may need it for a retaining wall and the next day we may need it for a pool installation. These machines are great because they’re very universal.”
Pool installations are one of the company’s most popular requests. When installing a pool, Andrew and his crew use the E55 excavator to excavate the jobsite. If site constraints prevent loading the dirt directly into a dump truck, Andrew’s crew brings in their T650 track loaders to haul the soil from the backyard to the truck for removal. Once the pool is completely dug out, the crew adds gravel to the base, compacts it and pours concrete before finishing out the sides
“I really like the pilot controls on the T650,” he says. “I have a little pain in one of my knees, so the pilot controls are nice because it makes operation effortless. It’s also nice that the equipment is so easy to work on. We can handle all the routine maintenance, and I’ve never been in danger of a breakdown. It keeps us working.”
With jobs lined up for the next year, Andrew needs equipment that can help them provide the high-quality service his customers expect.
“People like that we’re a smaller company. They like that I’m on the jobsite and that I take pride in our work,” he says. “At the end of the day, we want to help our customer’s vision for their property come to life. I’ve always loved working in the dirt, so it works out.”
Want more inspiration to start your own business? Read other company success stories on the Bobcat Blog.