In praise of snow plows

January 28, 2014
By: Vicki Bell

As I write this, I’m watching the snow fall outside my office window. If you’re in a part of the world that has seen far too much snow this winter, you’re probably thinking, “Big deal.” Actually, for those of us in parts of the country that seldom see snow, it is a big deal. It’s beautiful, but we have no way to deal with accumulation. Those snowplows that figure prominently in the northern part of the U.S. are almost as scarce here in the Deep South as the Phantom Corsair—and far more valuable, at least during a snowstorm.

In these conditions, snowplow drivers are heroes. We applaud them for their hard work that helps keep people safe. But do we ever give much thought to the tools they use and who’s responsible for those? I know I didn’t give snow plows a thought, other than knowing how to operate the one mounted on the tractor I had when I lived in Northern Illinois. And I have no clue who makes them.

I’m thinking about them now as my son is stuck in a parking lot, my daughter is sitting behind an accident that’s had traffic backed up for an hour, so far, and my husband has to make his way home in the early evening as temperatures plummet and freeze the precipitation that continues to fall. Oh how I wish we had municipal snowplows and heroes to drive them.

Let’s talk about those plows. And salt and sand spreaders and deicing equipment. A quick Google search of “where municipalities buy their snow plows” turned up 523,000 results with Henderson Products at the top.

Henderson Products began in 1946 as Henderson Manufacturing. Founded in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, by Ollie Henderson, the company expanded and moved to Manchester, Iowa, in 1958. Its products include dump bodies, snow plows, sand and salt spreaders, anti-ice systems, deicing systems, and special purpose truck bodies for both heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks.

On its “About Us” page, the American company boasts that its commitment to customers has earned it the reputation as “The Dependable Ones.” I’m guessing that this winter season will help the company earn a reputation as “The Lucky Ones.” Nothing like an especially snowy winter to boost snow and ice removal equipment sales. I wonder how the company fared in the winter of 1978-79.

I’d like to see my municipality make a generous contribution to Henderson’s revenue. During the 2011 ice storm that hit the Atlanta area, it was revealed that the city had a fleet of 10 plows and spreaders. It rented additional equipment ahead of the storm, adding 12. Even so, the city was unable to keep the Interstates and main roads clear, let alone the side roads and neighborhoods. People were iced-in for as many as five days. No mail delivery, no leaving hilly subdivisions … we were cut off from the rest of the world as we watched national coverage of the city’s poor response to the storm. The mayor reassured us that this would not happen again. I hope he’s right. Just in case he needs it, I think I’ll send him Henderson’s phone number. I’ll also send it to my suburb city’s mayor, who lives on a country road less than five miles from me. He has to have trouble getting around too.

Maybe sometime soon we’ll see the company update a message on its “About Us” page: Today Henderson packages are sold in each of the nation's Snow Belt regions ... and in other areas that desperately need them maybe every three years.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209