Feature, V2I3

What Do You Need for Shed Delivery?

pine-hill-pic-2_vldThe Internet is full of advice for homeowners who need to move a shed. Just find the right size trailer, or a couple of your buddies, and you’re in business, these sites say.

Having enough hands on deck may be the key to a DIY shed move (if you’re willing to throw out a few backs and send your shed out of square). But the professionals have much more effective—not to mention ergonomic—options at their disposal. If you’re looking to add delivery to your shed building or sales business, consider investing in the equipment recommended by the pros.

The Right Trailer for the Task

For the professional shed mover, the key to delivery is an investment in the right trailer. But how can you be sure that your trailer will meet your needs?

Aaron Barnes, vice president of PJ Trailers in Sumner, Texas, suggests several questions that you should consider before selecting the trailer for you:

■ What is the trailer deck width?

■ What is the gross vehicle weight rating and carrying capacity?

■ How reliable is the trailer? And what type of warranty does the trailer include to back up that reliability claim?choosing the right trailer for a shed delivery

■ What attachment points are available? These might include rub rail, stake pockets, d-rings, or others.

■ Is there a nationwide network of dealers that can service the trailer?

Trailer manufacturers also typically offer a range of custom options designed to make your task simpler.

“A steel floor with recessed d-rings makes for easier loading and unloading,” Barnes advises. “We also offer custom rollers recessed in the deck and a variety of winches to help move heavier structures. Many customers find that our gooseneck tilts are more compact and easier to maneuver in tight places than bumper-pull models.”

Most shed movers will agree that a powerful winch is crucial for the task of loading and unloading. If these options have your head spinning at the potential cost, remember that this is one investment that will help your shed moving business grow exponentially. Talk to dealers about financing plans and other options.

“Also consider other uses for your trailer such as hauling equipment, vehicles, and other cargo,” Barnes advises.

The Indispensable Mule

shed moving with the Mule from Cardinal Manufacturing LLCShed movers who have exhausted themselves trying to maneuver large buildings through narrow alleyways or fence openings have bit the bullet and invested in the shed mover’s best friend, the Mule from Cardinal Manufacturing LLC in Grayson, Kentucky.

“We’re in the process of upgrading to a Mule,” says Curtis Kauffman, delivery manager and shop foreman for Kauffman Structures in Weldon, Iowa. “Up until now we really liked what we had—just a regular cab truck. It was easy to get around with that, but there have been a few times I wished I had the Mule to get in and make it a little easier so we decided to go that route. We’ll see how we like it.”

Gary Thomas, owner of Corpus Christi Portable Building in Texas, has been using the Mule for several years now.

“The Mule does everything we need it to do as far as moving sheds,” he says. He adds, “We couldn’t do it without it.”

Glenn Friesen, owner of G&R Shed Movers in Goshen, Indiana, agrees.

“We’ve had a lot of circumstances where we wonder how in the world we’re going to get it in there, but the Mule really is a wonderful thing. The other day I took a shed into a very tight alleyway and had to jockey it up 90 degrees to get it into the guy’s yard. Moving a 32-foot-long garage in an alleyway that had big rocks and stuff—it sure took us some time,” he says.

In addition to improving maneuverability, the Mule can be a delivery asset after a big rain.

“You can’t back your truck and trailer into someone’s yard when it’s wet, you’ll make a mess,” says Steve Borntrager, principal of Cardinal Manufacturing. “Leave all that weight on the street and move the building in without leaving any tracks.”

The customer feedback certainly makes a compelling sales pitch, but plenty of shed haulers who have been moving product the old fashioned way point to the high cost of this tool. And Borntrager acknowledges this, commenting, “You get what you pay for, so we can only make this so inexpensive and still do the job well. We focus on high-quality equipment that is designed to do the job well.”

However, he says, “The flip side of this is that most people can’t afford not to have one. The [shed movers] who don’t have one have never tried it and don’t know what they’re missing, both in convenience and customer satisfaction. It’s also a great sales tool. If they’re not using a Mule, their competition likely is. They’re sacrificing sales because the customer will go down the street because they don’t want a big truck in the backyard.”

While there are several options available, including an entry- level model, even the Mule isn’t immune to modification. Like many shed movers, Friesen has tweaked his equipment to make it better fit his needs.

“We found a way to hang the wheels on the mast instead of having to load and unload them separately,” he explains. Borntrager notes that Cardinal is driven by this type of customer feedback as it develops future iterations of this tool.

“We’re very big on listening to customers and their needs and wants,” he says. “One of the things in engineering right now is a track model, a system that runs on tracks instead of tires. Another project in research and development is for a higher lift capacity. Currently our largest machine has a 5,000-pound capacity. We’re working on a 10,000-pound capacity machine for big cabins, etc.”

He adds that there is no release date set for these upgrades, but shed movers can rest assured that new options will help them expand their offerings.

Your Toolbox of Extras

Tools such as the Mule can only get a shed delivered so far, however, when there are other obstacles in the way. It’s a common complaint among shed movers that homeowners are rarely prepared for the delivery, and may not have accounted for challenges such as low-hanging tree branches or power lines, even when the shed is able to fit into the lot (see “Leveling with the Customer” for tips on improving your delivery strategy). Experienced shed movers are likely to have a toolbox on-board that can help solve these and other challenges.

For example, Kauffman says, “I usually carry a 6-foot stepladder along, and I have a good handsaw that will cut a 6-inch tree branch if I have to—although I hope I don’t have to because that’s a big branch. That’s standard equipment I don’t want to be without.”

Kauffman also finds it helpful to keep on-hand a number of pipes to help roll the shed into its final delivery place should the trailer have trouble fitting. And since homeowners tend to differ on the definition of “level,” it pays to have a level available to make sure that shed sits flat onsite.

Jobsite Creativity Needed

Experienced shed movers point to two additional factors that can ease the delivery process—knowhow and creativity.

“Use the right trucks, the right winch and the right know-how,” Thomas advises. After all, he says, “It’s not a job for just anyone— it is hard, heavy work.”

Kauffman agrees that it takes a special mind to solve the challenges thrown out by his customers.

“What I like about shed delivery is that you’ve got to improvise and be ingenious,” he says. He offers an example: “One time I couldn’t get to the site because the customer hadn’t pulled his fence out enough. Although it was wide enough, by the time I got my truck and trailer through at an angle it didn’t work, so another concreted-in fencepost had to come out. So I just pulled my trailer up beside it, fastened my chain onto my dump bed and lifted it out of the bed with my dump bed.

“That’s shed delivery—you’ve got to figure out what works best, because it’s a little different every time,” Kauffman says.


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