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Fencing expert trains others in his method

By Joe Haynes   

Features Tech tips training

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” Shawn King, owner of Mr. Fence Inc., has applied this concept to his career in fencing.

With a driven mentality and the help of Little Beaver mechanical earth drills, King is on a mission to take the fencing industry to the next level. After years of experience and trial and error, he has developed one of the most tried and true methods for fence installation in the industry. However, instead of keeping these processes for his own business, he set out to better the industry by teaching seminars and providing training and knowledge through Mr. Fence Academy.

As word continues to spread about the Mr. Fence process to other companies in the industry, one can’t help but wonder – is this the new norm for fence installation?

 A Strong Foundation


King grew up in the fencing industry and started his fence installation journey at a family-owned business. As a result of the experience he gained at a young age, King was leading an installation crew before he could drive.

 Although some fencing companies use skid steers, excavators and trackhoes to dig fence post holes, King found that Little Beaver earth drills were the perfect solution for the residential application and has been using them for as long as he can remember. These small-but-mighty mechanical drills offer plenty of power and speed with the advantage of a nimble, lightweight design that doesn’t tear up a lawn.

“We started using Little Beaver drills on the jobsite back in the ‘90s,” King explained. “The one-man operation is not only more efficient than two-man augers, it also increases safety with a torque tube that absorbs shock to minimize the chance of being thrown from the drill and getting bruised.”

 In 2001, King decided to start his own fencing business in southern Indiana. Based on his experience with Little Beaver and the variety of options they provide, he knew he could select a drill that maximizes productivity for fencing. So, he turned his focus to how he could build speed and accuracy by homing in on technique.

“All my years of trial and error in the fencing industry allowed me to think outside the box when it came to maximizing performance with a mechanical drill,” said King. “I went through and trained each team member on technique and tips I learned throughout the years and developed a 3-step process for the fencing crew to enhance productivity.”

 The Key to Success

King’s fencing process was developed with four main criteria. The method must be teachable, measurable, predictable and repeatable. After trying different alternatives, the final result involved three crew members – one to measure where the post holes should be, one to operate the drill and another to make sure each hole is ready for the post.

The first person goes throughout the yard to mark where each fence post should go. The drill operator follows behind and drills the post holes at the markers. After each hole is drilled, the third person comes behind to “own the hole”. This means they take the remainder of the soil from the bottom of each hole and make sure it lines up with the other holes. After this person leaves each hole, it’s ready for a fence post. This process allows each crew member to focus on their assignments and minimizes the time it would take for each person to go back and forth to re-check work or plan the next hole.

“We can dig 25 to 30 fence post holes in 30 to 40 minutes with this method,” King said. “We’re at the point where we have it down to a science of how to track the progress and can tell a customer the exact number of man-hours a project will take us.”

King also designs custom tools that can keep up with Little Beaver earth drills for maximum efficiency. These tools address other aspects of fence building, such as marking and spacing for layout, and tools to assist with fence installation. This means crew members don’t even have to take out a measuring tape during the fencing process because everything has been built into the Mr. Fence package of tools. With specific tools designed for aluminum, chain-link, wood and vinyl fences, this addition makes measuring distances and other tedious tasks just as fast as using a Little Beaver to drill the fence post holes.

Mr. Fence Academy

 The time and energy King put into perfecting the fence installation process has allowed Mr. Fence to become a dominant force in the residential fencing market. Before long, other fencing professionals asked King if they could watch his team install fences to implement some of the processes into their own work. This inspired King to take that interest to the next level.

King created Mr. Fence Academy to educate other fencing companies about ways to improve their productivity and safety. He uses the training sessions to teach what tools to buy and how to maximize performance and installation methods to try for improved efficiency.

“I spend the first 10 to 15 minutes of training discussing the benefits of Little Beaver mechanical drills,” King explained. “People assume earth augers are heavy and dangerous but when they learn how lightweight and productive Little Beaver earth drills are, their eyes are as wide as saucers.”

King spends part of his training going over safety tips, such as how to properly lift an earth drill and how to strap it down for transportation. He also educates participants on pinch points that can hurt an operator. Once he’s gone over the basics, he covers the typical wear parts of the auger and maintenance and other practical tips for how to maximize efficiency without sacrificing safety.

Tools of the Trade

King’s methods have certainly brought success to others. He recalled an instance where an individual just entering the fencing industry reached out to Mr. Fence Academy for training. By starting off with the right method, he got a jump start in the industry and was competing with companies that had been in business for decades.

“I learned everything the hard way when it came to finding success with an earth drill, which is why I have a story to back up every topic I teach,” explained King. “There’s no point in reinventing the wheel. I like to share what I’ve learned with others so they can understand what their earth drills are capable of and expand on tried-and-true methods instead of starting from scratch.”

One lesson King has learned is that productivity and profitability don’t just come from knowing how to operate the equipment, but in understanding how to maintain it properly as well. Initially, he didn’t want to take time for routine maintenance, but soon discovered dedicating time to following manufacturer guidelines helps the drills run efficiently for years. He changed his strategy from running the drills until they broke and using them for parts to hiring a maintenance person to check the earth drills once per month, which extends the life of the equipment.

“I learned if you buy a new unit and take care of it, you won’t need to replace it as often,” said King. “At Mr. Fence Academy, I try to change the mindset that maintenance is a hassle and highlight how much time can be saved with simple monthly checks as opposed to extended down time from trying to perform maintenance just once a season.”

King also shares tips on techniques such as how to maximize the auger’s strength while drilling through tree roots or how to increase efficiency by always keeping the drill straight. These golden nuggets of advice can easily be implemented into any fencing program for maximum ROI, which makes Mr. Fence Academy a highly sought-after program for businesses of all experience levels.

Building for the Future

 King has finessed his fencing method to the point where he can teach just about anyone to build a fence, regardless of experience. With businesses experiencing challenges across the country when it comes to finding skilled labor, the Mr. Fence method is more valuable than ever.

“There are plenty of people who might want a job in fence building, but don’t have the qualifications required to do it,” King said. “Our fencing process bridges that gap because you only need to learn how to use a level, straight edge and some power tools like the Little Beaver.”

 King has built awareness for his fencing process and Little Beaver earth drills on social media to create an understanding of the capabilities they can offer. His passion for fencing has led to millions of views on TikTok and YouTube, which keeps his team of 30 busy with plenty of leads, and Mr. Fence Academy bustling with learners.

“We need to stop building fences like our grandfathers did and start building fences the way our children will need to in the future,” said King. “As the next generation enters the workforce, efficient processes that can easily be taught are more important than ever. The Mr. Fence installation process opens the door to anyone interested in learning, all experience levels aside. With the addition of increased productivity and simplified processes, businesses can use the Mr. Fence method as a win for everyone involved.”

 Joe Haynes is president of Little Beaver.

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