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Discussion Starter #1
Hi I'm a junior in high school and I'm wanting to start custom harvesting locally in northwest Oklahoma and I'm wondering if there are any tips or advise I could use to get started.
 

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Best advise I could give you is look around and go talk to people , They might not be to responsive to you but just sit down and talk to them . Price out the cost of a machine , fuel , break downs , and your labor . The big thing is find out what they really want , someone to haul and harvest or someone to just harvest for them when they are ready so they don't have to wait for another harvester to come in .You have to find a niche to make you stand out from all the rest .
 

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Make sure you take good care of equipment. Grease and oil stuff daily or as it needs to be done. Your top priority should be to do a good job and impress your costumers. Trust me, good word spreads just as fast as bad word. This was my first year doing custom harvesting in my community and I got quite a bit of business. I would say to try and plan everything out to be time efficient and still do a good job. Best of luck to you!
 

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Thanks and I'm also wondering what would be the best brand of combine to go with. I currently have a 76 L but thinking about up grading and wonder what's the best way to go.
 

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I agree with everyone else. Start with older gear you can afford, but make it the best running and best looking older gear anyone has ever seen! I am going on my forth year. Still in the building phase myself...
 

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Not sure what your dealer support looks like around there... I would go with a JD 9600 or a CIH 1680 or 1688 for starters...
 

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There's gleaner case ih and John Deere dealers any where from 20 to 45 minutes away from my current location so that shouldn't be to much of a problem.
 

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I don't know much about Gleaner. Pretty much just green and red down here. there are several guys trading 9600's for sts machines and getting in the mid twenties on trade in. that would be where I would start.
 

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As I near retirement and reflect back to when I was a young farmer getting started I think of all the custom harvestors I hired. Some were good, some terrible. What characteristics did the good ones have?
First and most importantly they communicated. Always keep your customer informed. If you cant be there when you said you would let him know.
Second, treat the customer's crop like it was your own. Remember his crop is paying your bills. That reminds me of a sign in the employee break room at a dairy I saw recently. It said "The employer doesn't pay your wages...the cows pay your wages. Treat them kindly if you want paid."
Third, drive at a reasonable speed. Nothing makes the customer madder than to see his crop thrown out the back of the machine.
You are trying to build a business...not impress the neighbors how great your machine is.
Fourth, keep your machine as reliable as you reasonably can. Go to the dealer that you bought the machine from and talk to the service manager. Be honest with him. Tell him you cant afford to replace everthing but would like to know where the high wear items are and have him help you make the call as to whether they should be replaced. Over the years I have found that the vast majority of people are helpful if they are treated with respect. Good luck.
 

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I agree with everyone so far. Keep the machine clean and maintained as best as possible for your operation, keep your customer happy by calling and checking in letting them know your plan and when you can be there. I always figure that their crop is mine. I check in when they are planting sometimes to find out what they might be planting on which acres and try to keep up on it throughout the growing season to make sure that if they plant a shorter season variety that might be ready sooner/ longer season might be done later.
Be prepared to provide any support that be needed. Trucks, carts, service trucks etc. You can always add more equipment as needed if you are getting more business, but your reputation is key. If you are good, word of mouth will be the only advertisement that you will need.
I might be a little prejudice about my brand but prefer case ih. Very versatile for cutting many different crops and easy to service and work on. Plus easy to get aftermarket parts for about any repair that might need to be made.
 

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Some have stated what year or size combine to go with. Go with what ever you feel comfortable with or what you can afford, dont stretch to far. We do around 250 acres of custom harvesting for wheat, along with around 300 acres of our own. So 550 acres and we run a 1460 and we are pretty much at our limit of what we can do in a reasonable time. Couple years ago we did almost 800 acres, we had more wheat ourselves than normal and i had a neighbor who's combine broke down so i helped him. It was hot and dry that summer and we ran almost two weeks straight most of those were 16 hour days, and i can tell you i felt like id been run over by a train when i got done with that haha. A 1460 isnt the most comfortable thing in the world, but i was able to get the job done. I almost payed the combine off in one year with all those acres.
 
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