Snow Plow Versatility Means Increased Profitability

Plows with versatile features that open up the market to different jobsite demands are a focus for manufacturers this year, and the added options are attracting contractors.

As manufacturers see the purse strings loosening and contractors leaning toward making plow purchases, they are attempting to offer more options for the dollar in order to secure the sale. Plows are trending toward features that offer added versatility, which saves users time and money on the job.  

Growing Number of Plowing Contractors

Plow purchasers, like most service providers, have been slow to spend money on equipment. As talk about the economy becomes more positive, they are out shopping for the best products to help them profit in their businesses. Manufacturers are seeing this change in spending habits and are winning customers over with added features. 

“Spending has been frugal in recent years as business owners became more careful with their investments,” says Mark Klossner with The Boss Snowplow. “They are starting to buy more trucks and plows, but are demanding more from them, so that’s what we want to give them.”

Contractors are holding on to trucks they’ve had for a couple years and repowering them with new plows, while those who purchase new vehicles need them to be newly outfitted.

“Purchasing decisions have been affected the most on new vehicles,” says Klossner. “We are finally starting to see an uptick in truck sales. With the pent-up demand for trucks these days, an increase in plow sales should follow.”

Veteran snow removal contractors aren’t the only ones shopping around these days. Start-ups are also trying to get in on the action.

“The economy has provided some individuals with excess time. Those with entrepreneurial spirit have entered the snow removal market,” says Mark Harris of Douglas Dynamics, provider of Western, Fisher and Blizzard products. “This trend increased the number of users looking to purchase a snowplow for their half-ton vehicles.”

New Products Increase Bid Opportunities

A portfolio of different-sized plow jobs is common, especially as contractors open up their services to smaller accounts in order to fill up their available time. A plow that fits many different-sized jobs is necessary for ease in operation and profitability.

“Most contractors plow a combination of commercial and residential locations, and each site requires different equipment,” explains Harris. “In order to compensate for the needs of each site, we are witnessing a shift toward expandable-wing plows that allow the contractor to gain productivity and versatility without increasing the size of their fleet.”

With expandable-wing plows, users are able to optimize the blade configuration with wings that increase the width of the plow to fit the needs of their location.

“Boss continues to cater to the v-plow configuration as it becomes more popular because, depending on the type of property or paved area you are cleaning off, the ability to multi-position the v-plow is what is attracting customers,” says Klossner. “The wings can be added to our v-plow line to add a bit more length on each side. For contractors who have a mix of larger open spaces as well as tighter spaces, it’s easy to get out of the truck and add the wings on to the plow for increased snow removal capacity and capability.” 

Snow removal professionals are working with the equipment they already have and are trying to take advantage of the available plows and attachments for maximizing their efficiency and profit.

“It’s about saving time, getting the job done faster, using less fuel and ultimately improving the bottom line,” explains Klossner. “Contractors who are also landscapers are continuing to utilize the equipment they have on their skid steers, and are using box plows and similar attachments to move snow in a straight line.”

Users with excess capacity in terms of vehicle weight and capabilities are adding plow wings, shoes and snow deflectors to maximize the productivity of their units.

Manufacturers Fight to Keep Prices Level

Professional plow operators understand that when purchasing a plow they are investing in stability, performance and the extended life of the unit. Many stretched the life of their plows as far as they could go in recent years.

“Contractors typically purchase quality equipment which allows them to extend the lifecycle of their units when economic conditions are difficult,” says Harris. “Contractors realize that a simple, reliable and durable plow is going to cost them less long term because they can’t afford to be down in a storm.”

Many manufacturers are working hard to keep product costs down to keep plows affordable for contractors and help them make money. The pressure is still on contractors to control their costs, so affordable plow options are necessary.

“We understand that with the economy being soft, along with the pressure that’s on snow and ice management professionals as well as our distributors trying to sell the product, we are trying to hold our costs and pricing as flat as possible,” says Klossner. “Anything we can do on the manufacturer side to keep costs and prices level is a big boost to them and the overall economy in the end.”