Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Best Snow Plow Dealer Locator

Ultimate Dealer List 2
Click on the image to find a dealer!

Introducing the most complete snow plow dealer list in the world!

After tackling the ability to compare snow plows, we thought it would be helpful to have an easy way to look up local snow plow dealers. In the past, you were stuck with looking up a dealer on a manufacturer site, but no more! We have compiled the most complete list of snow plow dealers for all the top snow plow brands in North America!

A Better Way to Find a Snow Plow Dealer.

Snow Plow Dealer Locator

It is easy, just go to our ultimate snow plow dealer list where you can search by state or by zip code. Put in a little info and BAM! Out comes your local dealers.

Want to see what the list looks like? Well, let’s say we wanted to find where I can have my plow serviced and I am sitting in Western’s parking lot. I just put in the zip code 53223 and lickity split, a list pops up and tells me what I need to know.

Snow Plow Dealer List

The nice thing is, your manufacturer might not have the closest dealer, so you can get all the dealers at the same time! Admit it, for some repairs, any dealer can help you out as long as it is fast, you do not always need to go to the authorized dealer. You just need your plow fixed so you can get back to plowing. So why spend time jumping from site to site trying to find the nearest dealer, authorized or otherwise? Go to one list that has all the information you need with fast results.

Phone Numbers, Maps, and more!

This tool is great if you are out plowing with your smart phone. You can call the dealer right from your phone. You can also click on the map link to get directions to your dealer of choice.

Snow Plow Dealer Sample Page

Some dealers also wanted to share more about their business, so be sure to check out their page before you call. Here is one from Big Mike’s (note: Big Mike’s is not an actual dealer, it was our first test dealer when we setup the database).

Do you like to fix your own plow?  Shhh.  We added a list of parts dealers too!

Plow Parts Dealers

The Best way to Look Up Snow Plow Dealers on the Internet

We know we have the best way to look up snow plow dealers on the internet, because as we write this post, we are the only ones to have all of the dealers on a single, easy to use, super fast results list. Whether you are looking for service, to buy a new plow, or just like to hang out with snow plow buddies, this is a great list to add to your “favorites” on your phone or computer.

Ultimate Dealer List 2

Are you looking for a dealer to buy a new plow? Has your snow plow seen better days? You can also check out our complete snow plow comparison page where you will see plows from all sorts of manufacturers too!

Compare Snow Plows for Sale

Snow Plows for Sale Comparison Tool
Click on the image to jump to the comparison tool!

Introducing the most complete snow plow comparison tool in the world!

The team at Snow Plow News likes to compare the variety of snow plows available on the market, but that seems hard to do when you want to compare plows from different manufacturers. Until recently, you had to pull up several different web sites and go back and forth looking at the different plows. Snow Plows are hard to compare that way, not only does it take time to go back and forth to look at the pages, the formatting of the pages are different, so you have to hunt for the information you want.

A Better Way to Compare Snow Plows

Snow Plow Comparison Filter BoxIt was with our own frustration that we started on a mission to build the ultimate snow plow comparison tool. We loved the tool so much, we just had to share it with you!

Simply go to our snow plow comparison page. From there you will see plows from all sorts of manufacturers (we are adding even more in the near future, but the biggest manufacturers are already in there).

 

There is a Huge Number of Snow Plows to Chose From All in One Place!Chose three snow plows to compare

Snow Plows for Sale Comparison Filtered ListYou will see right off the bat that there are a lot of snow plows on the market to chose from. Just go over to the left side of the page and narrow your search by one of several categories. Now our list size becomes more reasonable, but even now you have a lot of plows to chose from. From there, chose the plows you would like to compare. Those plows will come up at the top of the screen and then you hit the compare button.

An Easy to Compare List of Snow Plow Features is Displayed.

Long Comparison Table
What you see is not even the whole list, I just ran out of screen space to copy!

You can a graph of the pricing range and the moving capacity of snow. We put our independent rating on the plow, and then show you a ton of other features.

I added a different snow plow to show you another cool feature, if we have a video that shows more information about the plow, you can click on the video right from the list, you do not have to go searching for more information.

Compare Three Plows with Video Link!
Note the “Watch Video” link right in the results box. This comparison list is super EASY!

The Best way to Compare Snow Plows on the Internet

We know we have the best way to compare snow plows on the internet, because as we write this post, we are the only ones to compare plows across manufacturers. This is a handy tool for people looking to buy a plow, a handy tool for dealers to quickly show customers differences between brands, and for snow plow nerds like us who just love to compare snow plows in every way possible.

Oh, and if you are looking for the best place to buy from, you can also check our ultimate snow plow dealer list where you can find the dealer nearest to you serving all the top snow plow manufacturers.

Review & Compare Snow Plows: Western VS Hiniker

Western v Hiniker graphic 150

 

 

You’ll find some excellent tools at Snow Plow News for keeping up with snow and ice industry news, reviews, weather, equipment and more! One of the great tools you’ll find for choosing a snow plow is our snow plow comparison charts. Let’s use that tool now to examine some of the big guns in the world of snow plows.

Snowplow Manufacturer Comparison Categories

In this series of comparisons, we’ll take a look at the combined ratings of all snow plow offerings listed on SnowPlowNews by each of the major snow plow manufacturers. The categories Snow Plow News examines to determine a SnowPlowNews Rating are as follows:

  1. Multiple Plow Specs
  2. Features
  3. Size
  4. Price – the price range provided should only be used as a general rule of thumb. We cannot be certain of actual market pricing as that will vary from area to area as well as dealer to dealer.
  5. Moving Capacity – this is intended to give you a general idea of snow moving capacity. This is based on the size and style of plow.
  6. Warranty

A high ranking does not constitute a product endorsement by Snow Plow News.

Today’s Snow Plow News Match-up Pits Western VS Hiniker Snowplows

We’ve taken the numbers from each category and compared them to find out which snowplows have the higher Snow Plow News rating.

SnowPlowNews has ratings for 12 models of Western and 15 models of Hiniker snow plows, including straight steel, straight poly, and V-plows.

Western Snow Plow Results

The following chart indicates the numbers for Western snow plows.

Western Plow graphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Western straight plows averaged: 53.33

Western v-plows averaged: 56.67

We took the average SPN ratings for Western snow plows to come up with a final score of: 54.17

Hiniker Snow Plow Results

The following chart indicates the numbers for Hiniker snow plows.

Hiniker Plow graphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hiniker straight plows averaged: 51.64

Hiniker v-plows averaged: 60.75

We took the average SPN ratings for Hiniker snow plows to come up with a final score of: 54.07

 

Comparing Price, Warranty, and Moving Capacity

The Hiniker snow plows tend to be priced slightly less on average than Western, but again this will depend on multiple variables.

Hiniker scores a 2.26 out of 6 on price and offers a 2-year warranty on their snow plows.

Western scores an average of 3.42 out of 6 on price and offers a 2-year warranty on their snow plows.

On Moving Capacity, Western comes out ahead with a 3.58 out of 6 score.  Hiniker scores a 3.42 out of 6.

Again, very close.

In Our Western VS Hiniker Snow Plow Battle, There’s No Clear Winner

In our limited comparison formulas, it looks like Western wins the SPN ratings battle on paper, with a margin of victory of 0.10, but it’s hard say there’s a clear winner. Hiniker comes out ahead on price and Western outperforms on Moving Capacity. Both Manufacturers have a 2-year warranty on their products. On paper, it appears both Western and Hiniker v-plows outperform the straight plows and as you might expect are more expensive.

The standout for Western seems to be the Wide Out Snow Plow which comes away with a Snow Plow News Rating of 66. It boasts a 5/6 Moving Capacity rating and is 5/6 on Price making it Western’s best performer on paper and most expensive.

The Hiniker standout is their model 9960 poly blade v-plow with a 114 inch blade width. It scored a Snow Plow News Rating of 65 with a 5/6 Moving Capacity and middle of the road 3/6 on Price.

Of course, this is a battle on paper. In the real world where the snow is flying, a lot of other important factors come into play.

Other Real World Variables To Consider When Purchasing A Snow Plow

1. Dealers
2. Mounting
3. Innovation
4. Non-truck applications

When you’re considering a snowplow, your relationship with the dealer is a big deal. Does your dealer have a reputation for being open during snowstorms? Do they carry a large assortment of parts on hand or can they get them fast? Do they have a service department with a good reputation? When you’re out in blinding snow and a part breaks on the plow, you want to know it can be fixed fast.

Mounting is also a concern. Will you have to leave the plows on the trucks all winter because it’s such a headache to dismount and re-mount the plow to the truck? Are hookups a one man job or do they require a team and a skidsteer?

Innovation is a popular term amongst manufacturers. Everyone wants to be known for being out front and ahead of the competition. Design and engineering are key elements to a well-built, quality snowplow. Take the time to investigate some of our videos and articles to see for yourself. What are some of the small tweaks and design innovations built into the plows.

Non-truck plows are a popular item right now. Many contractors will have a UTV, skidsteer, or loader in the fleet depending on the size of the operation. Why let your UTV or skidsteer sit on the sidelines during winter when it could be outfitted to perform year round. It puts more blades on the snow, makes efficient use of your tools and brings home more money.

Stay on top of winter weather, snow and ice news and reviews, manufacturer updates, comparisons and more. Sign up for SPN’s online newsletter and get it all delivered right to your inbox.

Brent Jarvis for SnowPlowNews

Iraq War Vet, Justin Anderson, Has A Unique Perspective On Proposed New Jersey Snow Plow Bill

The Northeast gets a lot of snow. Lake Effect areas are particularly susceptible to massive accumulations of the white stuff. Many of these areas have serious snow removal operations in place to keep the roads as clear as possible, but it’s quite a job. In a recent Snow Plow News Weather Update, Meteorologist Rob Guarino talked about the snowstorm that hit the towns of Mexico and Parish, New York. That storm dumped 37 inches of snow in one day. Where do snowplow operators put that much snow?

A Little Winter Weather Perspective
© Zhukovsky | Dreamstime.com - New York City Ready For Clean Up After Massive Snow Storm Juno Strikes Northeast Photo
© Zhukovsky | Dreamstime.com – New York City Ready For Clean Up After Massive Snow Storm Juno Strikes Northeast Photo

If you live in any other part of the country it’s hard to appreciate just how wintery, winter can be. Ask a northeasterner what they think of a snowstorm in Nashville that results in 3 inches of snow. They’ll probably tell you that’s not really a snowstorm. It’s more like a sign of spring. Nashville residents might say it was a blizzard. It’s all about perspective really.

In a similar way, a person without physical disabilities won’t have quite the same perspective as someone who has physical disabilities. Stay with me here. If you’re not confined to a wheelchair, you likely won’t know what that’s like. You might have a certain amount of empathy, but you don’t really know what it’s like. You can’t really understand their challenges without having lived a day in their shoes.

New Jersey Snow Removal Bill

Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in the New Jersey State Legislature that would “prohibit snowplow operators from depositing snow in front of certain access points used by persons with disabilities”. New Jersey Bill A2361, proposed by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, would fine offenders $250 for the first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.

The bill obviously has good intentions. Good intentions, though, are sometimes hard to balance with real life consequences. While the objective is understandable, local snow removal professionals are wondering how this might work. Snow plow operators are faced with brutal conditions while having to make on-the-fly decisions about how to clear roads and parking lots. There’s rarely a “good” place to put all that snow.

The main problem plow operators might face is knowing where a handicap accessible area is during a snowstorm. In the midst of white-out conditions and accumulating snow, those areas can be hard to distinguish from a regular parking space.

Iraq War Veteran Has A Unique Perspective

Justin Anderson snow plow chairI talked to SGT Justin R. Anderson, USA (Ret) about the New Jersey bill. You might remember Justin. His story went viral this winter. In 2003, Justin suffered a combat injury serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army. The injury cost Justin his leg. He then converted his off-road wheelchair into a snow plow. He uses that plow to serve his neighborhood by clearing the sidewalks for schoolchildren.

If anyone has a valid opinion about snow plows and disabilities, it’s Justin. He’s faced the challenges associated with both. Besides his own endeavors, Justin also has family who is responsible for snow removal. Justin confirmed how difficult the question is. He said he could see both sides of the issue. On the one hand, you’ve got people who need to be able to get out just like anyone else. Disabled folks need to get to the market or doctor just like the rest of us and that’s complicated when it snows.

 

“Even an inch of snow can make it nearly impossible to get out when you’re in a wheelchair”.

 

Of course Justin’s off-road snowplowing wheelchair isn’t a normal wheelchair. But he knows how difficult it is nonetheless.

Justin can also see the other side and can appreciate the challenges a snow plow operator faces. Justin mentioned the issue of marking handicap accessible areas. If a space isn’t clearly marked, how can a plow operator know it’s designated “handicap accessible”? Painted lines won’t do much good in a snowstorm when it’s hard enough to know where the road is, let alone where a parking space is.

 

“Who will be responsible for making these areas more visible”?

 

Justin would expect New Jersey snow plow operators who receive a fine to charge that back to the business owner. Assuming the business owner is responsible for keeping the place clearly identified, that’s a fair expectation. Of course, clearly marking these areas for snowstorms might prove to be a challenge too; depending on what is expected, that could put quite an additional burden on business owners.

Justin also wondered about property damage that might result from trying to keep these places clear. Concrete curbs are often used to distinguish the areas, but in a snowstorm they’re virtually invisible. They’re like magnets to a snow plow. Snow plows also have the potential to break up concrete in areas that aren’t well maintained. Broken concrete or potholes in a normal parking area is one thing, but in a handicapped accessible area, they can be treacherous.

These are all questions New Jersey lawmakers will be considering when the bill is debated. Do the advantages of such a law outweigh the potential negative consequences? New Jersey might soon be answering that question. We’ll watch this as it unfolds.

SnowPlowNews appreciates Justin’s one-of-a-kind perspective on this issue. What if every wheelchair had tracks and a snow plow like Justin’s? Hmmm.

If you’d like to team up with Justin in his efforts to cover his health care expenses, please visit his gofundme page and contribute.

 

Brent Jarvis for SnowPlowNews

When Is Winter Ending? El Nino Isn’t Finished With Winter Just Yet.

Meteorologist Rob Guarino reporting from Lake Effect Land for a Snow Plow News weather update. Rob helps us count down the end of winter weather. What can we expect here on out?

It’s that time of year when most of us start wondering how much winter we have left. Those folks who live in Lake Effect areas usually endure more winter than the rest of us. The Oswego County, New York communities of Mexico and Parish were hit last week with 37 inches of snow in one day.

Is there any relief in sight? While it’s still snowing in parts of the northeast, other parts of the country are expecting a little warm up. Could that be an indication of an early spring?

Signs Of Spring

EL NINO FADEAccording to weather models, El Nino will gradually begin to weaken. February will still hold plenty of winter for much of the country, but by March and April we’ll see some weakening of El Nino. El Nino’s winter effects should be neutral or completely gone by June. Look for a switch over to a warmer than normal weather pattern in April, May, and June.

That’s the good news. Winter still seems to have some surprises up it’s sleeves though.

 

Northeast Snow Storm On Track For Beginning Of March

Don’t be surprised if we see another snow storm in the Northeast part of the country, sometime during the first half of March. There’s also likely a moderate snow event coming to the Midwest and upper Midwest during the same time frame. It’s even possible we’ll see some of that snow further South. So, keep those snow plows and salt spreaders ready to go.

Winter eases up later in March and by April we’ll be enjoying temperatures and precipitation around normal.

February Through March 2016 Winter Weather Outlook
  1.  February 17 – 29: Temperatures below normal. Snowfall expected February 24 – 26.
  2.  March 1 – 15: Temperatures below normal. Snowfall expected March 2 – 8.
  3.  March 16 – 31: Temperatures near normal. Spring showing signs of life.

Stay on top of winter weather, snow and ice news and reviews, manufacturer updates and FEB TO APR MAY 2016more. Sign up for SPN’s online newsletter and get it all delivered right to your inbox.

If you’re a commercial snow and ice professional, or responsible for municipal snow removal, take a look at the Arctic Sectional Sno-Pusher. Commercial snow and ice removal requires an investment of time, equipment and money. It’s a significant investment that should be protected. Arctic sectional snow plows are engineered to help protect your investment. The sectional moldboards act independently to allow for unseen obstacles to be cleared rather than resulting in costly repairs.

Add Some Extra Green During Your Next Snow Plow Route

During the next snowstorm, pay attention to all of the driveways sitting full of snow as you pass by to your contract jobs. Those driveways will need attention at some point. Either Joe Homeowner has his own equipment, he’ll be out there doing it himself for 3 hours with a snow shovel, or he’ll be on the phone trying to find someone to blade out the drive.

When you’re passing by all of these driveways, your truck is still eating fuel, which means lost profit. Snow plow operators know that route density is an important part of profitability. While signing up clients for next season, you’re constantly looking at where each new customer is in relation to other customers. If clients are spread out all over creation, you won’t be nearly as productive. Time spent driving to the next job is time you’re not earning money, you’re bleeding money.

 

 

Finding Solutions For Route Density Issues

Plowz-Mowz logoThe founders of Plowz & Mowz have come up with a relatively simple solution to the efficiency issue. They developed a smartphone app that puts customers in touch with providers. During snow days, Plowz is actively taking orders for one-off snow plowing jobs. Those orders are then passed along to a commercial snow plow operator via smartphone. The Plowz app provides the snow plow operator with a network of potential customers.

For The Homeowner, End-User, It’s A Simple Process
  1. Contact Plowz by smartphone or home computer
  2. Describe the size of driveway
  3. Pay for the service
  4. Driveway is plowed and homeowner receives a photo confirmation

When Plowz receives the order, they scan the closest available commercial snow plows on the network and make the job available via smartphone.

Snow Plow Operators Can Get On The Plowz Network Easily
  1. Sign up with Plowz & Mowz – operators must send in proof of liability insurance, and plowz appmust be using commercial grade equipment
  2. Download the Plowz app to your phone
  3. A provider link is sent from Plowz via text message and shortly after you’ll receive job opportunities

When you’ve signed up, you’ll see what jobs are available and be able to look over the details. It’s the operators choice to take or decline jobs. Claiming a job is as easy as clicking on the ‘Request Job’ button. If the job is assigned to you, it will appear on your ‘Claimed’ tab.

Plowz & Mowz scans through the available operators in an area using GPS Fleet Management. This is provided free upon sign up.

How Will You Be Paid For Your Snow Plowing Efforts?

Before you claim a job, you’ll be able to see the amount you’ll earn, location, and description of drive. Once you claim and finish the job, you’ll take a picture of the finished driveway. Plowz will either direct deposit into your account or you can choose to receive a mailed check every two weeks. If the operator chooses direct deposit, funds will be deposited within 24 hours of the job being completed. Each job is split 70/30 with 70% going to the provider and 30% going to Plowz for administrative services.

When Does The Job Need To Be Finished?

Each job provided by Plowz needs to be finished by the end of that day. If breakdowns or weather get in the way of providing service, Plowz will reassign the job to another provider. When a snow plow operator receives job opportunities on his/her phone, they are only opportunities. There’s no obligation to take the jobs. However, someone will take the job, why not fill in the holes in your route and pocket more money.

How Does Plowz Determine What To Charge?

Plowz has a program that determines charges per job. They take into account the size of the driveway. Is the drive less than 3 car lengths, 3-6 car lengths, or more? How deep is the snow on the drive? More snow means more money. Is it a high volume, high demand time frame? During a high volume period, rates are adjusted upwards to account for demand. According to Plowz, the average snow plow operator makes over $1200 additional during a storm.

Plowz takes a lot of variables into account when setting rates. Providers don’t know how much snow a snow storm will dump on an area until it’s done. Because of this, contract customers may pay the same for big snows as they do for lighter snowfalls. Plowz adjusts the rate according to how much snow is being moved and when. These real-time adjustments mean that while smaller jobs may not pay quite as well on average, the bigger jobs usually pay more.

Questions And Concerns Regarding Plowz & Mowz

Let’s face it, anytime a new competitor comes into a market, there’s a chance you’re going to lose some customers. This depends on whether you look at Plowz as a competitor or an opportunity to use technology to increase your business. Some snow plow companies will argue that Plowz is another big company coming in and taking business away from local operators. Consider the opportunity to increase your profitability, efficiency and productivity. Plowz handles all of the office work for you. They take care of the administrative aspects of the business. Plowz communicates with the homeowners, sets a fair rate, collects, and then distributes the operators 70% share. It’s possible that a contract customer might opt out and use Plowz next year. But, it’s more likely you’ll be able to pick up more than enough additional jobs to boost your bottom line significantly.

Remember, it’s your name on the side of the truck, not Plowz. The customer used the app to find you, much like they would any other marketing or advertising. If you pick up a contract customer next season because you did good work through Plowz, that’s more money in your pocket. It’s win, win. The homeowner gets their driveway plowed at a fair rate, the snow plow operator gets to fill in their route, and Plowz makes some money providing customer support and handling accounting and administrative issues. It’s as American as apple pie. Good ‘ol American ingenuity at it’s best.

Some will compare Plowz & Mowz to the Uber car service. The two are similar in that they provide on-demand service, but Plowz & Mowz providers are professionals with an average 7 years of experience, commercial grade equipment, and at least 1 million dollars in liability coverage. These requirements discourage fly-by-night businesses and low-ballers.

Plowz And Mowz Is A Year Round Service

Of course, if you’re doing landscaping and mowing in the summer months, you’ll be glad to know that Mowz is the other side of the Plowz & Mowz business. According to Mowz, the average provider makes an additional $600 per week on one-off jobs. They have developed a recurring service arrangement primarily for Mowz customers.

If Plowz & Mowz hasn’t made it into your market yet, just wait, it’s coming. They’re expanding into metropolitan markets throughout the country. They are currently serving over 30 municipal markets nationwide and adding more every year.

If you’re curious, it doesn’t cost anything to sign up with Plowz & Mowz. You might be surprised how much more profitable your business can be.

Sign up for SPN’s online newsletter and get weather updates, news and reviews, all delivered right to your inbox.

 
Brent Jarvis for SnowPlowNews

What’s the Difference Between Polar Vortex and Arctic Oscillation?

Meteorologist Rob Guarino reports for a SnowPlowNews weather update. Rob explains the major winter weather influences as parts of the country are hit with a blast of cold temperatures.

We just heard the news that the groundhog did not see his shadow and yet here we are in the middle of a deep freeze. Was the furry prognosticator wrong or is winter giving us one last uppercut on the chin?

WHAT IS THE POLAR VORTEX_First let’s discuss what’s causing this chilly weather. The primary causes are two weather terms you’ve heard mentioned more than once this winter: Polar Vortex and Arctic Oscillation.

What Are The Basics Of Polar Vortex?

A Polar Vortex is basically a big mass of cold arctic air that is circulating around the polar AO POLAR PINBALLregions. It’s very much like an arctic cyclone. When there’s a disruption, that big ball of cold air comes down into Canada and the United States from the Arctic circle. This arctic air forces temperatures down well below normal. The Polar Vortex is a normal part of the atmosphere. It’s regularly occurring but can change in intensity.

These cold air cyclones tend to strengthen in the winter and weaken in the summer months. This is primarily due to the temperature variation between the arctic and regions further south. When the vortex strengthens it keeps that cold air in place up north. When it weakens, it can slip down into the states.

How Does Arctic Oscillation Effect The Polar Vortex?

POS NEG LOOK ON CHARTThis is where it gets interesting. Imagine the Arctic Oscillation as giant northern pinball flippers moving up and down. When the flippers are up it’s positive and the result is warmer air in the states. When the flippers are down or negative, they’ve just pushed that big ball of cold air from the Polar Vortex down into Canada and the United States.

Sign up for SPN’s online newsletter and get weather updates, news and reviews, all delivered right to your inbox.

If you’re a commercial snow and ice professional yourself or responsible for municipal snow removal, take a look at the Arctic Sectional Sno-Pusher. This snow plow is made for serious snow removal operations. It’s sectional moldboards allow each section to adjust independently according to the surface. Get right down to the surface on one pass and save yourself some time and money. Make your business more profitable and efficient. Check out the Arctic Sectional Sno-Pusher today.

Why Snow Removal Contractors Care About This Lawsuit

Buyers Products Loses Lawsuit Douglas Dynamics / Western Wins Patent Lawsuit

 

 

 

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of Snow Plow News or its related entities.

Why Snow Removal Contractors Care About This Lawsuit

You might not have even heard that two weeks ago a Federal Circuit Court stood by the decision of a 2014 jury trial, but I am going to tell you why you should care. This court case has a long term affect for the average contractor and their pocket book.

First, let us cover some of the details.

The Lawsuit

The case was a patent suit that started several years ago when Douglas Dynamics (Western Products and Fisher Engineering) filed a lawsuit against Buyer’s Products (Snow Dogg) for patent infringement. It turns out that Buyer’s heavily borrowed from the designs created by Western engineers.

This article is not about them, it is about contractors, so to make a long story short the courts ruled (repeatedly) Buyer’s was found to have clearly infringed on two Douglas Dynamics patents that involved the quick hook-up of the plow to the vehicle and that involved the lighting system.

As we have tracked this case get appealed, the $9.75 million dollar judgment and injunction against Buyer’s in favor of Douglas Dynamics continues to be upheld. Now you might think we would tell the Big Boys to quit their bickering, but it is a very good thing for the contractor that Douglas Dynamics won this lawsuit (and that includes contractors who are Buyer’s fans).

Why this Lawsuit Matters to Snow Removal Contractors

Why is it good Douglas Dynamics won the lawsuit? Because Communism doesn’t work. That’s right, I said communism. Now that your eyebrows are raised and you wonder if I like McCarthy (don’t like Joseph, but there is a Tom I like), let me explain. When pure communism took over in the eastern block countries, it did not take long for people to figure out that it did not matter how hard or how little you work, everyone was rewarded the same.

After a while, the economies of those countries slowed down as the incentive to work hard was not there. Hey, if I get paid as much as Bob, why should I care if Bob works twice as hard?

Now let us come back to those patents. When people “borrow” designs, at first this seems like a good thing for consumers, competition brings lower prices. Yet the people that run companies are pretty smart. If they do not get paid for their work, they will stop working too.

Realize that if manufacturers are not rewarded for research and innovation by getting paid for their hard work, research and development will only be a waste of money. By the way, this is precisely why we have patent laws in this country, to reward people for innovation.

It is About Better Products and Lower Prices

If no one finds a benefit to innovate (because their ideas will just be stolen), no one will innovate. If no one looks at how to make better plows, contractors will only have a choice of the same old plows decades from now.

Not only that, but if all the plows were the same because of “sharing,” the bigger companies would likely pull the “Walmart card” and slash their prices until many of the smaller guys go out of business. You might like the lower prices at first, but you might not like the long term outcome. Remember the lower the competition the easier it is for larger companies raise their prices (which means they get more of your money).

Some have commented the playing field is already getting too thin in this industry, can you imagine what it would be like if we only had two snow plow manufacturers? Their price can go up, their quality can go down, and as long as one doesn’t stray too much from the other, you are stuck, just like the people in many small towns are stuck with only a Walmart in town, and those small town Walmarts can get away with charging higher prices than the Walmart in the big city next to competitors.

I’m Asking

Now I am not picking on Buyers Product here. I just wish they had gone to the table and really delivered their fans innovation that surpassed their competition so clearly that Buyers had their own advantage instead of the lawsuit. Instead, when some of the details came to light, at the time I felt I was looking at a “me too” company and not innovators like what Western and some notable others want to be.

Also, no offense Western and the Douglas Dynamics family, but I am glad you won, but for my own selfish reasons. At the end of the day, I am glad it was innovation, free market, and the American Way that has had its day in court and won.

May we all remember to truly be innovators and lead the pack rather than just copying someone else’s hard work. We owe it to everyone in the industry to put our best foot forward, so guys, I am asking you to put your best foot forward today.

What do you think? Join the conversation and make sure you post your comments here or on the Snow Plow News Facebook page.

About the author:

John Smythe formerly was a Lean manufacturing implementer at one of the top snow plow manufacturers. He now works for himself helping small and medium sized businesses strive for excellence.

Douglas Dynamics / Western Wins Patent Lawsuit Appeal