It always amazes me why people seem to wait until the fall to consider getting ready for winter. Some wait until almost December, and then seemed shocked that they can't get work done right away on their plow. Maybe if there are larger shops in your area, it is not a problem. Most smaller shops have work booked a month out by October. We have a small window of time to sell and install plows. I usually start in July, or when the first plow is sold. Why wait? Typically in the "off season" parts are on hand from the previous winter, or they are easy to get. Once the manufacturers start shipping pre-season orders to dealers and distributors, they can run short and then backorders start. While we do not like for it to happen, winter has to come to an end. It is a delicate balance trying to keep plows and parts on hand, but not wanting to get stuck with a lot of inventory when the snow machine stops. It may stop in January, or it may stop in March, you never know. So based on what is on hand (at your dealer or even the manufacturer) it is then decided how much to order (dealer) or to order and build (manufacturer) and then there is that small window again (for the manufacturer) to start ramping up production and filling orders with stock on hand and new stock.

Like it or not MANY parts come from China, for ALL plows, none are 100% USA parts and components. ALL PLOW MANUFACTURERS. That alone means at least a month minimum for the "slow boat from China" to get here and everything to go through Customs, and then ship from the West Coast to the Midwest and northeast where most plow manufacturers are located. Sometimes two months. ALL plow manufacturers use hardware from China or Taiwan, like it or not. Some of the vendors that plow manufacturers buy from also get their parts from China and other Countries, and that takes time.

In the Northeast, the winter of 2015 - 16 was not much of a winter. I know it is a broad statement, but the fact is the I-95 Corridor is where the plow manufacturers want to see record amounts of snow every year. From Virginia to Maine. When the Corridor does NOT get snow, plow sales plummet. Manufacturers and dealers get stuck with plows and parts. For the manufacturers, that often stops production. For the dealers, it means they are stuck with inventory, so they have capital tied up siting on the shelves. All dealer inventory has to be paid for, sold or not. Unlike outdoor power equipment, there are no safety nets of paying when sold, or anything like that found in other industries when it comes to plows.

So while we do not have a crystal ball, we do not know what any given winter is going to bring. Neither do the plow manufacturers. We see the same forecasts the public sees, and plan accordingly, and hope for the best making our educated guess and gambling. There a few years back I was hearing of plow distributors stuck with 50 and even 100 plows in the spring! That particular year I got stuck with 14 plows. They all had to be paid for. So the manufacturers do not suffer, their plows are sold and paid for. No dealers "send plows back" it does not work that way. So when the manufacturers see orders dropping off, they will slow or stop production. they will stop ordering parts and components from vendors.

Where am I going with this? Well you have one of those years where you get stuck with those 14 plows, manufacturers are sitting on record numbers of plows in the spring, so they are not producing more. Distributors place their pre-season orders, usually by May. Yes, May. There is no way to have any clue in May how many plows will be sold, and the weathermen can't get a forecast right 2 days out. So we place our orders, and wait. Then in August the winter forecast comes out and says it is going to be a record snow year. The plows start flying out the door. NOW the manufacturers have to ramp up production again. Often they bring in a second or third shift, working around the clock trying to meet the demand. Then the slow boat from China comes into play. Orders are placed by distributors, and the manufacturers backorder the orders. All we can do is wait, just like the customer that waited until the fall to decide they wanted to buy a plow.

Then depending on how production runs, and where the demand is, you start seeing that the distributor can get the plow, but a mount that fits your truck is backordered 5 weeks. Or all of the black iron is available, but the plow moldboard is backordered 6 weeks! Maybe the manufacturer has everything but can't sell it because they are waiting on a wiring harness, or more controllers from China. It happens A LOT. The whole industry is a gamble. Every year we roll the dice and hope to win.

So by not waiting until the last minute, you can be sure that YOU will be ready for whatever comes. Don't be a grasshopper.