John Derringer, owner of John’s Lawn & Landscape outside of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has a fleet of seven pickup trucks that stay busy all year round, hauling landscaping and lawn care equipment in the summer and plowing parking lots in the winter.
The transition times are toughest, when he’s attaching and removing the plows so that the trucks can do double-duty. “That’s when you really need to make sure you’ve got the right stuff,” he says. “You can waste a lot of time in the morning since the weather can be unpredictable.”
Derringer makes sure his crews all check the weather the night before their shift so they know if they need to show up early to equip trucks with the right equipment. He used to have crewmembers show up early every day during the late fall months, but realized he was wasting man-hours.
“Everyone has a smartphone now, so I just tell them to check the weather at night before they come in,” he says. “That way they can get some extra sleep and I’m not paying them to stand around.”
Derringer just updated his fleet two years ago, and here’s what he considered when he was shopping around.
Weight: Derringer says his No. 1 concern was finding something that was the right fit for his trucks. “I use them all day every day, so I don’t want something too big that’s going to put a bunch of strain on my fleet,” he says.
Support: Since downtime is a real killer, Derringer wanted to make sure he could easily repair his plows. So he looked for a dealer that would keep him up and running. “That relationship is really important,” he says.
Blade: Derringer considered moving to V-plows this year but decided against it since he’s had good luck with straight-blade plows in the past. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” he says. He also says that material options are important to consider. A few years ago, he decided to move away from steel blades and start using polyethylene plows. Derringer says they cost a little more, but they’re worth it.
“So far, they’ve been holding up really well,” he says. “I haven’t had the kind of wear and tear I’ve seen with steel blades.”
Derringer also has some snow blower plows for smaller jobs like driveways and sidewalks. “The snow blower plow is great for getting the sidewalk totally clean,” he says. “We have some customers that’s really important to.”