We talked to Gene Stork and Jeen Stork of Stork Plows, a plow dealer in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about what to look for when you need a contractor grade plow for plowing commercial sites. Gene and Theresa Stork started Storks Plows over 30 years ago and now their son Jeen is part of the team.
The Storks started managing a repair shop and providing snow removal service at the same time. When it became apparent they couldn’t keep up with both, they decided to support snow removal contractors along with maintaining their repair shop. They grew into one of the largest snow removal equipment installers in Pennsylvania.
We asked Stork what are some of the things contractors should look for in a plow. “It depends,” were the first words out of Stork’s mouth. Is it mostly large parking lots or a lot of driveways? Will there be a lot of sidewalks and can you push the snow off the sidewalk onto the grass or does it need to be hauled away? “I ask guys to bring in pictures of some of the properties they work to get them the right equipment.”
Then Stork shared, “In general, you want a heavy truck with a heavy-duty plow.” If your truck model has the option for a snow plow prep package, definitely get the snow plow prep package. What is included in the package will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, yet almost all of the packages will include stronger springs in front and a bigger alternator to keep up with higher electrical demand of snow plows and salt spreaders. Most packages will also include a transmission cooler to help to get rid of the extra heat that builds up in a transmission while plowing.
As for the plow itself, upgrading to a heavy-duty contractor plow is a no-brainer. You will find up to 100 pounds of more steal on the plow due to the thicker steal used and extra supports designed to take a beating. There may be more springs or shocks too and it is usually only a few hundred dollars more to move up to the heavier duty plow, a small percentage of the total cost of an installed plow.
“All the big brands offer a heavy-heavy duty plow line,” says Stork, and for the most part, they all will stand up to the normal use you see with most employees.
When it comes to skid steers, wing plows are becoming more popular. The wing plows mounted on a skid steer works great as a universal tool clearing driveways and sidewalks fast yet still effective at clearing open spaces.
Stork points out there are a few things to consider with salt spreaders. The first is, how far away salt is stored from where you spread the salt will dictate how big of a spreader you need. If your salt pile is 10 miles from where you will spread the salt, you will want the biggest spreader your truck’s weight limit will allow, while if your salt pile is on site, you can get away with a smaller unit.
Salt spreaders are also notorious for rusting due to the corrosive nature of salt. While you want to minimize what can rust on a spreader, stainless steel models have been seeing a comeback since many manufacturers now offer electric models.
Stork explains what really makes a difference in keeping the rust away is how well you clean the spreader at the end of the season. Small amounts of salt sitting in the spreader during spring, summer, and then fall destroys the metal. When you get a spreader, find one that is easy to clean all the salt and / or sand out, then store the spreader out of the elements to give more years of life to your equipment.
Looking for a spreader that has one control that integrates with all your accessories is also a bonus. Stork pointed out newer controls like with the Fleet Flex electrical systems do a great job allowing all the accessories to integrate with a single harness making installs and use a lot easier than in the past.
Stork volunteered, “Over the years I have heard a lot of horror stories.” So, Stork recommends taking pictures…a lot of pictures. Before the winter season begins, take pictures of damage to the property and walk the owner of the property around so they can see the damage themselves helping you to avoid blame at the end of the snow season.
You should also take pictures of the property in good weather when there is no snow in order to show your employees where to put snow and where all the hazards are to be found. Take time to walk your employees over every property they may clear so everyone is aware of the hazards and on the same page of what needs to be done.
When the snow season is over, take pictures again. Quickly own up to any damage your team may have caused, but more importantly the end of the year pictures also ensures if there is damage to the property after the last snow, no one can start pointing fingers your way.
We asked Stork if being a Christian, family run business made a difference. Stork replied, “Honestly, we try not to make a big deal of it. I am always going to tell everyone the truth is one thing they can always expect though.” Stork admitted not being perfect, but being a Christian also means he focuses on people, “so providing great customer service is important to me, because I want to treat people right.” It does not matter who you are, Stork wants everyone to feel welcome at his shop.
Thanks Gene and Jeen for your insights!