Winter Beats Up Snow Plows

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Local plowing companies are calling it a "banner year," one they haven't seen for years.

And while the piles and piles of snow pile up profits for Hidy's Towing and Snowplowing Inc., it's also driven up maintenance costs.

"It's taken its toll on a couple transmissions," said Dave Hidy, president of Hidy's Towing. "It's hard on the plows. The plows do take a beating."

In the winter that just won't end, Hidy says he's typically out 5-6 hours each day plowing and salting. The good news: his business has tripled. The bad: some of his trucks have been wearing down.

"The plows get fatigued," he said. "It's just hard on equipment: reverse, drive, constantly in parking lots."

The profits will exceed the maintenance costs this year, Hidy said, but all the repairs will certainly take a toll. Replacement parts and labor aren't cheap, he says.

"It's time involved, pulling them out, disassembly, going through them, reassembly, reinstalling them in the vehicle. It's costly," he said. "Not only are they working on this equipment, which is costing money, instead of working on a customer's vehicle where it can pull a little income in."

The City of Lansing's maintenance bill figures to be somewhere around $250,000, according to Public Service Director Chad Gamble, between paying for repairs and paying the people who do them.

"Our workers are being tested due to the long hours as well as the environment," Gamble said. "You have salt on metal so all that stuff takes a toll on our vehicles."

The biggest problem are worn plow blades, Gamble said, victimized by 440 miles of uneven roads. Hydraulic hoses and transmissions are common problems too.

"It is a real costly maintenance winter and we're doing our very best to do it as cost-effectively as possible," Gamble said.

Gamble says a new garage and hard-working employees have made this winter easier, but says a newer fleet could help even more. He says the fleet is at least six years old and overdue for replacement.

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