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Thu November 05, 2020 - National Edition #23
Leaders in the competitive snow and ice management business, Iron Mountain, Mich.-based Boss Snowplow has a few new products available to customers this year. The company will introduce a new back drag plow it is bringing to market that goes on the back end of a pickup and is "dragged" behind the truck. When combined with a plow on the front of the vehicle, contractors report a 30 to 50 percent improvement in productivity, according to Boss.
In 2019, Boss showcased a booth full of new products at The Work Truck Show, North America's largest work truck event. Highlighted were the Forge 2.0 long bed designed to fit long bed trucks; DXT D-Force dual trip plow with the added option of D-Force to maintain consistent hydraulic down force enhancing back dragging performance; Exact Path 1.5 drop spreader for ATVs and mid-size UTVs; and SK-R6 compact box plow for tractors, skid steers and other maintenance vehicles.
The Boss Snowrator is designed to make quick work of snow-and ice-covered sidewalks and provides a maneuverable, multitasking, labor-saving solution to address the challenge of managing sidewalks, according to the manufacturer. It reduces the need for shovelers, maximizing productivity and efficiency — whether in metro, commercial or residential environments — where clean and clear walking surfaces are always the top priority. Snowrator quickly deploys to plow and de-ice surface areas, effectively reducing the need for shovelers. It allows the operator to brine, spread and plow at the same time to maximize on-the-job productivity and profitability.
The most popular piece of equipment though remains the V-plow for a ¾-ton pickup truck. In fact, Boss was the first brand to have a V-plow and its first product was a V-plow for pickup trucks. A revolutionary idea back when it was first unveiled, the V-plow has made truck plows much more productive when compared to the traditional straight-blade plows. Today well over 50 percent of all plows sold by snow and ice manufacturers are V-plows.
The Boss product line features plows for pickup trucks, tractors, loaders, UTVs and ATVs; salt and sand spreaders for the same vehicles; Snowrator sidewalk vehicles, which plow, salt and brine at the same time; and hand tools and accessories like shovels and walk-behind spreaders. The company, founded in 1985 by Warren Brule, has several hundred thousand square feet of manufacturing facilities in its ISO9001:2015 registered facility in Iron Mountain, housing steel fabricators with lasers, presses, machining, welding and painting processes. There have been several expansions of the facilities over the years, including one that is in progress right now.
The project will add approximately 44,000 sq. ft. of additional manufacturing space to the existing facility, which will include a new paint line and improvements to its research and development facility to increase production capacity and support future growth. It is slated to be completed by spring of 2021 and will create about 24 new jobs in the area.
The company itself has evolved over the years in response to the times. On the manufacturing side, automation has changed the industry from its earliest days. Robotic welding, laser and plasma cutting tables, etc. have decreased the amount of time required to build plows dramatically and have improved quality. On the engineering front, computer-aided design has allowed engineers to design and "test" product concepts long before actually fabricating steel. This has decreased design times, improved durability and reliability and improved costs for manufacturing.
As a result, the product line also has transformed. By staying connected and listening to snow and ice contractors and dealers, Boss has deepened and widened its product offerings into multiple categories. The goal is to provide contractors with solutions to their snow and ice business needs regardless of what vehicles they are using and what kind of contracts they have to do.
To cater to that need, the company has developed its workforce, adding to its talent across different functions, from manufacturing to sales and marketing. Providing a safe working environment and the best equipment for its growing team to build the best products has always been a priority at Boss, which has more than 300 employees today.
Yet, among the many challenges experienced, labor, or the lack thereof, is one of the biggest issues in the industry. Customers are facing difficulties finding seasonal labor and dealers also are finding it harder to staff their shops. The other constant challenge for the industry is snowfall. No two winters are alike and long-term weather forecasts/projections are not that accurate. This impacts every element of the snow and ice market, right from the manufacturers to the dealers down to the customer/contractors.
Boss does its part in offering a combination of factory and remote training for its regional and international dealer network annually. For customers, seminars are offered if requested, typically when larger fleet groups have annual meetings. These are usually on product-related topics or overviews.
When it comes to parts and product support, Boss offers a two-year warranty on most products. Parts are readily available, and the national dealer network is encouraged to stock up on parts so customers can get what they need, when they need it. Additionally, Boss offer parts directly to customers on its e-commerce platform, ShopBoss.com.
As for the future, Boss will continue to have its pulse on customer feedback and industry trends, providing the best solutions possible. The company's reputation is built on being available to customers at all times and standing behind its products. To this day, when you call the factory with an issue or a question, you talk to a human being and sometimes it's the person who helped design the product. That close connection between product and the product user gives Boss an edge in the marketplace that the company plans to continue building upon for generations. CEG
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