Secrets Of Snow Business: Skid Steers Plowing Commercial Parking LotsPART ONE HerePART TWO HerePART THREE HerePART FOUR HereAdam is the owner and working manager of a small (8 full time employee) landscape business in the metro. These stories are fictional, but you will recognize the real world experience that is embedded in them. These stories are right from our own playbook. You might even catch a glimpse of real life characters, or the history of KAGE Innovation. In this episode, Adam sees firsthand how versatile, efficient and fast a skid steer is at the snow removal process.

Hauling The Skid Steer On A Trailer To Plow The Lot

“I’ll be at the shop in 20 minutes to get your skid steer from behind the salt bin. I hope it’s plugged in”. Corey says to Adam over the phone.

Corey is referring toThe skid steer.  Adams last piece of equipment not broken down, or already in use. This has been one terrible snow event, seemingly lasting days. Snowing on and off, the snow is building and building. People, and equipment, are tired. Piles are getting taller, and snow storage is dwindling or non-existent. Parking stalls are being used for snow storage. Highway overpasses are clogged with snow along the guardrails. Sidewalks are buried, and abandoned cars are stuck in the ditch all around town.

Corey is Adam’s go to guy when he’s in a pinch. Corey is a farmer outside of town, and has plenty of down – time in the winter months. Corey normally applying salt to the parking lots that Adam plows with his trucks, but tonight Adam needs him to step up.

Corey grabs his Carhart bibs from the bedpost (never leaving his bedroom without them) and walks into the cold kitchen. Looking outside through the frosty kitchen window, he sees the wind blowing snow around his F250 pickup, and a little farther off in the distance he can make out the outline of a buried and completely drifted in skid steer trailer parked alongside one of his sheds.

“Great”, he thinks, “I’ll have to dig that trailer out”.

Corey fills his coffee mug and pulls on his boots, hat and gloves. He braces himself as he heads out the back door and into the howling wind, catching the screen door so that it doesn’t fly off the hinges. Opening the door of his truck, he sets his coffee mug on the console and feels around the ignition for the key. Turning the key he lets the glow plugs come on and preheat the engine.

“Now where is my 2 and 5/16 ball hitch”, he wonders.

About 30 minutes later he is pulling up to Adam’s shop with the truck and trailer. He finds that Adam’s skid steer there in the usual place next to the makeshift salt bin. The skid steer is an old rusty 785 with semi-bald tires and loader arms that were bent up from an accident it had been in. It has a door on it, heater and some homemade plexiglass bolted around the metal grating of the cab to help keep the heat in – at least somewhat. As Corey loaded it onto the trailer, he thought, “I’ll probably just leave the skid steer running on the trailer to let it warm up on the way”.

Corey arrived to the new site that Adam directed him to and found the site completely buried under snow. The contractor (Joe) that was contracted to plow the lot was MIA, and so the property owner asked Adam’s company if he would be able to plow it. Adam jumped at the chance, and so here they were, using their skid steer with a bucket to plow a parking lot. Crazy, Corey thought. How was this going to work? As Corey unloaded the skid steer from the trailer, he flipped on the headlights to the skid steer and immediately illuminated the situation he was up against.

Skid Steers Can Plow Sidewalks

The headlights of the machine illuminated a winter scene of blowing and drifting snow with a few half exposed parking lot islands illuminated by a handful of streetlights. As Corey surveyed the parking lot trying to develop a plan of action, he noticed that something was missing. “Snow Stakes” he thought. There were none.

“Great, what the heck was Joe thinking. That guy is so cheap he doesn’t even stake his sites. Now I’m going to have to be extra careful with this snow bucket so that I don’t hit and damage stuff. ”

Corey shifts the old 785 into high gear, a two speed machine, and approaches the building. “I’m going to work the snow away from the building”, he thought.

As he starts to back drag the first few handicap parking stalls, he looks up at the snow covered sidewalk leading up to the entrance. “I wonder if I should just hop up there and pull that snow back while I’m at it?”

Corey is always looking for a faster, and better way, and knows that his buddy Adam will really appreciate not having to shovel more snow than he has to. So Corey decides to climb up the curb and try to maneuver the skid steer on the sidewalk leading up to the entrance of the office building.

He quickly realizes how useful this approach is – not only is he going to be able to help the hand crew enormously by getting rid of all that snow, but since the sidewalk is landlocked from any snow storage areas the hand crew would inevitably blow all that snow right into the handicap parking stalls he had just plowed. “If I pull the snow off now”, he thought, “that will decrease the time the hand crew spends, and eliminate need for me to come back and cleanup after them. Good thinking!”

Skid Steers Can Back Drag Fast

Like all good equipment operators, Corey gets the hang of tipping the bucket back. Using a 90 degree angle to back drag the snow away from the building and surrounding curb lines. “Wow, that is way different than doing this with a truck! I can visually see what I’m doing in this. It’s almost fun doing snow removal with a skid steer! the skid steer back drag these parking stalls 2 times faster  than with a truck plow. Wait till I tell Adam about this!”

Skid Steers Can Stack

Corey trims out around the last bit of parking stalls against the building. He starts to plan out the sequence he’ll use for the rest of the parking lot. He has a few islands to contend with, but nothing to complicated. The parking lot is a large L shape. The long side dead – ends into a huge retaining wall, so there is no snow storage there.

“I’ll have to push the snow all the way to other end and stack it up in the grass and around the trees,” he thinks to himself.

Corey starts to push the snow from one side of the parking lot to the other, he notices how clean the bucket leaves the plowing surface. “Wow, that is yet another benefit to plowing snow with a skid steer.”

He thinks, “Why doesn’t everybody use skid steers for plowing snow?”

Realizing he will not have enough snow storage for the entire lot while fill up the grassy area at the end of the parking lot. “I wonder if I can make a pile underneath the retaining wall? Then use my tractor to blow the pile up and over afterwards?” With this in mind, Corey use the skid steers’ to spin around quickly and plow / push snow in both directions. Never losing any time with an empty pass and always pushing snow from the lot. “A truck could never do this,” he thought. “It would take just as much time to turn the truck around as it would to drive back to the end in reverse. I’m going to plow this lot in half the time that it take Adam in his V-plow truck!”

Corey is starting to get the picture. Skid steers are nimble, quick, versatile and designed for abuse. A skid steer can outperform a truck in most small to mid-sized commercial parking lots and many other applications. Period. Just wait ‘till Corey and Adam’s gang figure out how to mount an angle plow to the front of the skid steer … now that will be revolutionary!