It's All in the Plow

Unlock the secrets to snow plows with Doug Clark of Douglas Dynamics.

Winter Inline (20)

Whether you're new to the snow removal industry or an experienced snow pro, there are some plowing tips that everyone needs to know before purchasing a plow. We at SnowPro reached out to Doug Clark, Product Manager at Douglas Dynamics, to fill us in on some snow plow purchasing secrets.

Before we get into the types of plows available for your snow removal needs, let's start with the basics. Clark identifies three things to consider before getting into the purchasing stage.

1. The type of truck you plan to use

"First, what truck do you have or are you buying? The truck you’re using will go a long way to limiting your choices," Clark says. "If you have the luxury of purchasing a truck to give you your preferred plow, by all means, do so. But that’s not usually the case."

2. The climate in which you work

"Second, what is the climate where you are? Do you get huge dumps of snow or are your snowstorms smaller (in the 3 to 5 inches at a time max range)? How cold it is makes a difference too — regions where the temps stay near freezing and not a lot lower tend to have heavier, wetter snow," Clark says. "If it gets extremely cold where you are, you’re going to have fairly 'dry' snow. This makes a difference in the plow(s) you purchase."

3. What kind of contracts you have

"Finally, what kind of contracts do you have? What’s your mix of residential, small industrial and commercial, and large industrial and commercial? Are there a bunch of drive-through lanes like at small banks and fast-food places?" Clark asks. "Answers to those questions will pretty much lock down your plow options to a manageable few to pick from."

Now that you know what factors affect your buying decision, you can look at the specs that make for a good plow. According to Clark, a truly good snow plow will be reliable above all else. If you don't have the right equipment, you can't get the job done.

"Like all services, you’re either ready when you’re needed, or you aren’t," Clark says. "And if you aren’t, you’re not going to get paid. There are only so many types of plows, and while they all have their advantages, from the point of view of a professional plower, the most effective plow you can possibly have is one that’s working."

In addition to reliability, Clark recommends having a large, high-quality network of dealers to handle any problems that arise quickly and efficiently so you can get back to plowing.

However, there is still more to consider before making the big purchase.

The Right Plow for the Job

There are three main types of plows to choose from: straight blade, winged and v-plows. Each has pros and cons, but which plow you choose to buy should depend on your specific snow removal needs. 

Straight Blade Plows

A straight blade plow is a great choice for plowers just getting started in the snow removal industry.

The plow is easy to maneuver and does not require past plowing experience to operate or maintain. In addition, these plows are usually more affordable than alternative plow options. As Clark puts it, straight blade plows are the plows for everyone.

"The odds are, if you can drive, you can operate this type of plow," Clark says. "straight blade is good because there are fewer moving parts, they windrow very well and they are absolutely the lowest maintenance plows on the market. They are frequently bought when the owners are concerned about plows breaking or when they have concerns about operator experience."

Winged Plows

Winged plows have every other plow type beat in maneuverability alone. While often set at a hefty price, these plows boast efficiency and precision in commercial lots.

Many winged plows feature expandable wings to carry more snow and that can be contracted for tighter spaces such as drive-throughs and parking aisles. Yet, winged plows are best suited for more experienced snow plow operators, Clark warns.

"They are, hands down, the most efficient plows in terms of snow carried per pass on the market," Clark says. "Because the plow can still angle left and right while scooping snow, you can carry snow even around obstacles."


V-plows are highly regarded for their versatility on the job.

"If you only have one plow, the v-plow becomes the plow of choice for individual owner-operators unless you are in a region where you can count on the snow being light, dry, and not too deep," Clark says.

V-plows are able to take on the roles of both winged plows and straight blade plows on a lesser level.

"I like to call v-plows 'Swiss Army plows' because they can windrow like straight blades and can carry snow like a winged plow, but can also open holes, particularly in drifts, which the other two don’t do as well," Clark says. "But they do not plow like straight blades and they don’t quite carry snow around obstacles like a winged plow, so there are tradeoffs that keep the v-plow from being the only plow on the market."

And with that, it's now up to your personal preference as far as snow plow brands, plow add-ons and more. How will you plow?