Plow Pullback Natural, but Could Backfire

Skittish contractors who want to wait until the snow starts falling to decide on new plow purchases could get left hanging out in the cold.

Buyers Snowdogg Vmd Series 10977032

Left with a sour taste in their mouths from the previous two lackluster snow seasons, many contractors are hesitant to commit to new snowplow purchases this year. But those who want to seriously compete in this business should seriously take stock of their current plow fleet.

Reliability is mandatory when it comes to your snowplow, and versatility and productivity are becoming equally important. The many new models introduced over the past couple of years offer something for everybody. Contractors should take a look at what's available, while it's available, so they're ready for the coming season.

"You're either in this business or you're not," says Dave Zelis, director of sales and marketing for Buyers Products. "The larger snow-removal companies get that. That's why they're steady. They realize that they can't control whether it snows or not. All they can control is whether or not they're ready at the start of the season."

Nonetheless, Zelis says that, based on what he'd heard at the SIMA show in June, many snow pros are being cautious this year. "People are just more conservative than usual right now," Zelis says. "Distributors and dealers are questioning how much of their resources to put into new inventory. Many contractors think they could use a new plow, but just aren't sure about making that investment. That doesn't mean the industry is going to stop selling new snowplows. But it is a question as to how many."

Will you be ready when Mother Nature calls?

Zelis thinks it is fair to say that distributor/dealer pre-season plow orders will be dialed back by about a third. Of course, that depends on how aggressive some manufacturers are in pushing inventory onto their distributors and dealers. Buyers Products doesn't like to do that, Zelis says, because doing so places more risk on the distributor and/or dealer.

"We're geared as a manufacturer to be able to build products all year long," Zelis says. "We don't like to do our entire build over the course of the summer. We certainly pre-build. But then we're able to do some final assembly and get product to our distributors quickly, even into February if need be."

This is important, Zelis says, because some late-October snowstorms could cause a mood shift among contractors, ultimately resulting in a big surge in factory orders. The questions for a contractor then become: What do I need to buy to effectively handle this season, and how quickly can my dealer get it on his floor?