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Earn profit with versatility in earth drilling

Four ways contractors can accessorize earth drills for new applications

November 17, 2023  By Joe Haynes

Landscaper dig fence post holes for the installation of a fence on a residential property. Photo credit: © Vasiliy Ulyanov/Adobe Stock

The Swiss Army was on to something in the late 1800s when they had a manufacturer design a knife capable of opening canned food and disassembling the army’s service rifles. Loaded with a blade, reamer, can opener and screwdriver, the knife became a worldwide symbol for versatility. 

Contractors should think of their earth drill as the next Swiss Army knife. With the right accessories, earth drills break into new applications, such as horizontal boring and foundation repairs. A simple kit or attachment is a small investment for the ability to offer an entirely new service to customers. Consider these four earth drill accessories to expand business and increase profits. 

Bore horizontally, profit vertically
Turn the familiar “drill down” mantra sideways with horizontal boring. Horizontal boring attachments allow contractors to complete a variety of jobs, including conduit, pipe, cable and irrigation installments. 

Typically, a manufacturer offers two types of kits: one for dry drilling and one for wet drilling. A dry auger kit bores to lengths of four feet and is best suited for smaller projects, such as boring under sidewalks. Larger projects, like boring under streets or driveways, require the use of wet drilling kits, which bore as far as 30 feet. Wet drilling involves connecting a water hose and water swivel to the drill bit to flush out the borehole.

If you already own a mechanical earth drill, these kits are a cost-effective addition, averaging about $275 US for a wet auger kit or $350 US for a dry auger kit. When it comes to ROI, reduced labour costs make the initial equipment investment worth every penny. For example, a wet drilling kit takes less than 30 minutes to drill under a 30-foot driveway while manually using a sledgehammer to force the pipe through the ground may take hours. Time is even saved on smaller projects, such as boring under sidewalks, as dry auger kits bore four feet in less than a minute. 

Bells and buckets
Contractors have heard of selecting a machine with all the bells and whistles, but what about one with all the bells and buckets? For tapping into the foundation repair market, consider a bucket auger or bell tool. These tools perform home and light commercial building projects, such as drilling holes for concrete piers. 

Bucket augers work well in soft soils and reduce side friction to allow for drilling deeper holes. These tools average around $200 US. Bell tools are used after the hole is drilled to ream out the bottom into a bell shape. The bell shape reduces frost heaving and offers additional support when anchoring the pier as opposed to push piers, which are straight columns. Bell tools cost about $1,500 US, which is a relatively inexpensive investment considering it prevents thousands of dollars of expenses if a foundation sinks. 

Photo credit: Little Beaver

Do more than drill holes
Get creative with an earth drill and consider using it for anchoring projects. Some manufacturers offer a variety of attachments for mobile home, utility or even tent anchoring.

Mobile home anchors make securing mobile homes fast and easy. While traditional methods involve using an expensive and slow pipe thread machine, an earth drill with an anchoring attachment takes several hours off the project. Some manufacturers’ earth drills install each anchor in less than a couple of minutes and can complete an entire home in as little as 90 minutes. 

Installing utility anchors is also faster with an earth drill. For example, an earth drill installs each anchor in a power utility tower anchoring system in about a minute. Only one person is required for the job, which cuts labour costs. 

Often, outdoor celebrations involve renting large tents to shelter guests in case of unfavourable weather conditions. Setting up these tents has the potential to become a lucrative business opportunity for landscape contractors or rental centres. For these projects, consider purchasing an attachment to anchor the tents. This involves an initial investment of $1,200 US to $1,300 US for the anchoring attachment, but it expands a contractor’s service offerings and cuts back on costs associated with manual labour. These types of attachments pair with hydraulic earth drills and drive tent anchors in and out of the ground within seconds as opposed to manually hammering in tent stakes. After all, there’s a party to get to! 

Auger adapters
Ideally, a contractor purchases an earth drill from a manufacturer that offers a wide range of augers and accessories. However, for those who already made a sizable investment in a brand without these benefits, consider purchasing an adapter. Some manufacturers design adapters that easily make other brands compatible with their accessories. This way the contractor gets the perks of the accessories without having to immediately invest in an entirely new drill. 

Sure, it may not fit in a pocket, but given the right accessories, an earth drill can be just as versatile as a Swiss Army knife. Even a small investment in a couple of accessories expands a contractor’s service offerings. Keep this in mind when looking for new ways to maximize an earth drill’s profit potential.

Joe Haynes is president of Little Beaver.

This article is part of the Equipment Week.

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