For Kent Winter, the founder of Winter Equipment, owning a company has always been about employing others. From the very beginning, everything Kent has done has been with the goal of never having to lay anyone off during the summer season. Through hard work, persistence, and commitment to employees and manufacturing in the United States, Winter Equipment has established itself as an exemplary company and leader in the snow removal industry.
For the majority of his life, Kent has been surrounded by steel and snow. He grew up in Utah and attended Utah State University. After graduating with a degree in Welding Engineering, Kent relocated to Cleveland, Ohio to work as a salesman for Lincoln Electric. He spent 13 years there, learning about the welding industry and working on steel fabrication. Kent began tinkering with the idea of starting his own company when a friend gave him a brochure on snowplow cutting blades.
In the beginning, Winter Equipment consisted of just Kent working out of his house. He was determined to create snowplow blades that would last longer than what was on the market. Presently, Kent's patented plow guard is the industry standard. The first four to five years of the business was all trial and error; Kent needed to get the idea right and decide on the best way to execute it. The first sale- for five products- was based on a model created with popsicle sticks and graph paper. After the initial order, Kent began selling to big snow truck companies and city departments of transportation. However, selling the model and actually delivering on the product were two different things. Kent's next move was to figure out where to make the blades--the orange paint stained floor of his home would no longer suffice. Within six years the initial sales, Winter Equipment was conceived, and the company has been growing ever since.
From day one, Winter Equipment has been committed to the ethos Made in America. From using steel fabricated in Ohio to manufacturing completely in the US, Winter Equipment has stuck with its original ideal. The company's commitment to Made in America extends beyond sourcing and manufacturing to employing as many local people as possible.
True to it's Made in America commitment, Winter Equipment Values community and strives to give back to society. To support its goal of maintaining continuity of employment, Winter Equipment never has layoffs. With the unpredictable nature of winter, the company does not want to risk losing its loyal, skilled employees. Instead, during mild winters employees will work full time for charities while still being paid by Winter Equipment. Employees feel rewarded when they contribute their time and expertise to the community and are proud to be part of a company that endorses service to others.
The snow removal industry is changing due to always changing weather patterns and technological advancements. Winter Equipment prides itself on staying ahead of the storm. States that previously did not have snow now confront the need to invest in and learn about snow removal practices. Winter Equipment engages with these new markets, training clients in the cutting edge applications of their state-of-the-art snow removal equipment. New technology paves the way for creating more efficient blade systems with longer lasting edges, thus reducing reliance on salt. With better edges, trucks can stay on the road for longer periods o time. Winter Equipment is proud to be a leader in the future of the snow removal industry. The company consistently innovates to bring new, cost-effective ideas to the forefront.
For Kent, establishing a dynamic and vital company founded on hard work, ingenuity, and integrity, where employees are valued as its greatest asset, has been the American dream come true.
Salt is expensive and can be really hard to find. During the 2014/2015 season, the average went from $38.30 to $46.80, causing municipalities to really use their budget on de-icing. Last year’s winter was brutal, and this one is expected to be even worse.
Winter road maintenance accounts for 20% of state department of transportation budgets nationally. These prices are skyrocketing because of supply being much lower than usual. Salt production was a 2.2 billion dollar in 2014 in which almost half (43%) of sales went to de-icing.
If you want to stock up on salt, you have to pay for 80% of the order in early fall, even if it isn't needed until late in the season. With salt producers being secretive about how supply and demand affects their prices, it raises cause for concern; no one knows exactly how it works.
While on the topic of concerns about salt, a lot of people ask if road salt harms the environment since we can see what it does to our cars…
Road Salt Effects
• On groundwater. Salt seeps into groundwater where it can reside for long periods of time, in turn affecting human, animal, and vegetation health. Contaminated wells have to be abandoned.
• On vegetation. Leaf damage and dieback is commonly observed along roads, but these effects can extend some distance away.
• On aquatic life. Salt in ponds and lakes create a salt water layer at the bottom, imprisoning nutrients away from aquatic plants and animals. In addition, elevated concentrations of salt in freshwater has detrimental effects on the growth, reproduction, and survival of a large range of invertebrates, fish, and amphibians.
• On mammals and birds. Drinking of salt water can lead to salt toxicity. Small birds confuse salt crystals with grit, and the ingestion of small amounts leads to acute toxicity and death.
Ultimately, human lives are saved by the use of road salt in winter. Research into safe alternatives to road salt is important: active research is ongoing with beet juice, cheese brine, and other agricultural byproducts.
Advice to municipalities using excessive amounts of salt is to invest early if you can afford it and have a backup plan or two, such as innovative plow blades; there are blades out there that have the same technology as tires or finding different products to use as an alternative. The up side of salt problems (if there ever could be one) is that everyone has to deal with these issues too, not just you.
Upcoming Trade Shows
July 16th – American Roads Show
July 19th-23rd – AASHTO Maintenance Meeting
Des Moines, Iowa
July 21st-22nd – KYTC Equipment Conference
August 2nd-3rd –Township Highway Commissioners of Illinois Summer Seminar
August 25th-27th – Indiana Street Commissioners Association
September 9th – Annual Snowplow Roadeo & Equipment Show
Green Bay, Wisconsin
September 10th-11th – West Slope APWA Snow & Ice Conference
September 15th-17th – Oregon Skills Demo & Safety Conference
September 15th –18th – Association of Town Superintendents of Highways Conference
Saratoga, New York
September 22nd-24th – WCHA-LDG Annual Road School
September 23rd- 25th – New England Public Works Expo
September 23rd-25th – Winter Maintenance Peer Exchange
September 24th – PA 811
September 29th – Snow & Ice Conference
We’re always looking to attend more trade shows! If you know of any that you think Winter Equipment would like to go to, let us know! Or if you would like more information on where Winter's booth is located at a show email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information.
As always, Winter Equipment Company prides itself on its charity work. While every year during the holidays, Winter participates in Santa’s Bikes for Kids, come summertime, it’s good ‘ol fashioned outdoor labor.
This year, Winter volunteered at the Mentor, Ohio Senior Care Center for The United Way Day of Caring. The day started at 7:30am with a welcome breakfast for the sponsors consisting of both Winter Equipment and Chase Bank. During the breakfast, a representative from each company spoke about the importance of giving back and how proud they are of the group of volunteers that came out to help.
Soon thereafter, groups of 4-6 people began to spread out to weed out the flower beds and trim the trees, bushes and shrubs across the property. As time went on, it was very clear that the feeling of helping out was showing on the faces of the men and women.
Shipping Manager Todd Davis said, “It was awesome! I really liked helping out the seniors and getting to spend some time out in the sun doing something good.”
There were no complaints from anyone, who were under the impression it was going to rain that day. The smiles were ear to ear across the board of the twenty-two Winter Equipment employees who volunteered.
Senior Engineer John Wahl said, “The ability to give back to the community I belong to is an enjoyable and rewarding experience.”
Lunch was provided by the Senior Center and was a big hit. Nothing seems to compare to home-style cooking.
Administrative assistant Lisa Sabol was excited about the day, “The MSC took such good care of us while we were there and the place looked awesome when we were done. And I think that helping others was a great team building experience. The United Way Day of Caring has a huge impact on our community, and I encourage everyone to be a part of it next year!”
Throughout the morning and afternoon, there was a lot of laughter and sunshine, all combined with 44 helping hands that won’t soon forget the experience.
" Inexpensive product lasting 5 years on a contractor's plow. Not only saving our curbs, but saving thousands of dollars on our blades. "
" Easy to maintain and adjust—we don't have to move boxes back to the garage. The longevity of the rubber is absolutely incredible. "