Hardsapers dream come truePublished by Dugybear Outdoor Living on Nov. 20, 2021

It wasn’t in the plans to open a supply yard, but the chance was too excellent to pass up.

Brian and Cohan Fish, a father and son partnership, ran their contracting business out of their homes for the first seven years of their operation. “It doesn’t really fit after your fleet grows up to 5 or 6 rigs with 5 or 6 trailers and 3 – 4 pieces of equipment,” Cohan explains. It was also a logistical nightmare.”

“Our spouses were wondering, ‘Why do we have to have all of his stuff in our yard?” Brian adds. Our yard looks worse than everyone else’s because you’re landscapers.'”

As a result, they began looking for a separate building to house their business, a location where they could park cars, equipment, and maybe stockpile some of the goods they use most frequently. They wanted to acquire a one-acre piece of land.

They discovered the site of a previous garden store that had been abandoned for two years in Ridgefield, Washington. Because real estate in my hometown (Vancouver, WA) is expensive, it’s roughly 14 miles distant.

The pricing was good, and the new building provided them with all the space they needed for their installation company. It was also large enough for a retail supply yard, and it was in an ideal location. They had no intention of opening a supply yard, but the chance was too excellent to pass up.

“For the same amount, we acquired 3-1/2 acres instead of 1 acre,” Brian explains. We took possession of the site on January 1st, and the supply yard opened for operation on March 1st. Ridgefield real estate values have skyrocketed since then. The identical property now would cost nearly half a million dollars more. It’s insane.”

Sales of supplies are surging.

Isn’t it also a little insane for a hardscape/landscape contractor with no retail sales expertise to create a supply yard? Brian and Cohan aren’t convinced. In its first year, the supply yard alone is expected to generate sales of $400,000-500,000.

“We didn’t expect the supply yard to generate the amount of income it has,” Brian adds. We assumed we’d have to help with the construction of the supply yard. We had hoped that the supply yard would help offset the increased expenditures. But it’s been self-sustaining since the beginning.”

They were well aware of the location’s potential. “The increase in this region is enormous,” Brian adds. Within a four-mile radius of us, hundreds of new homes are being built. “And the next nearest provider is around 7 miles away.”

According to Cohan, the property as a neighborhood garden center has a lot of goodwill. “We put up a lovely sign and spent some money on it.” We’re also on a corner property. We receive a lot of traffic because it’s a signalized corner. When the spring weather arrived, so did the people.

It’s mostly homeowners, with a few contractors thrown in for good measure.”

According to their e-commerce site, https://shovelandthumb.com/items, the goods they offer are the same ones they use on jobs: “a variety of bulk supplies ranging from bark mulch to crushed stones and boulders.”

All of their trucks and equipment, as well as all of their materials for prospective contracts, can be stored indoors at the new facility. “We probably have 10,000 square feet of pavers onsite, plus all of the retaining wall block that we construct,” Brian explains. We make sure we have everything we’ll need well in advance, especially now when everything is so tough to come by.”

According to Brian, they no longer acquire bulk items on the spot for a project from possibly high-priced vendors closer to construction sites. “When we load up in the morning, we bring all of our goods, aggregate, and bark mulch to the job site with us.”

“Just acquiring things saves us a lot of time.” We get a volume discount, which means we’re probably saving 20% to 30% on consumables. That’s a significant achievement. We’re also offering it at a discount, which is even better.”

Supplies have an impact on people’s life.

After establishing the new supply yard division, things had to alter. Brian and Cohan will no longer be working in the field as of this year. Cohan supervises the landscaping section and conducts install sales, while Brian is now the full-time Supply Yard Manager.

“In the past, my father and I would kind of tag team the construction,” Cohan explains. I was more hands-on, supervising the construction, installing the equipment, and interacting with consumers. He was also performing the majority of the sourcing, preparation, and bidding. But now he’s in charge of the yard, and my brother Durant is in charge of the foreman. He’s the guy with the boots on the ground.”

The inclusion of the supply yard, which was also new this year, prompted the hiring of 3 to 4 full- or part-time yard employees, as well as 1 full-time office person (Cohan’s mother) and 1 part-time office person to support both divisions.

The increased work and sales volume, according to Cohan, helped justify the new office employment. “Before we hired a bookkeeper, I used to handle everything myself: taxes, bills, everything.” There were many late nights.” more on the story here.