Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowthrower service

This is just one of my updates as stories come too me. This is from a note we give to some of our repair customers.  Just remember it is unedited.  I would appreciate comments. 

Dear Snowthrower Owner
When it snows we are at our best.  For 65 years we have provided service support for the Lawn equipment industry.  I am disappointed that our servicing of your Snowthrower did not live up to yours or our expectation.  Our hands are tied by manufactures and dealerships that don’t provide support after the sale.  In this case parts availability was the issue, this is a problem with servicing discount/home-center snowthrowers.  90% of the requests for Snowthrower service over the last 6 years are because of a corrosive additive that the EPA requires in fuel.  Below is a page from a project to write the History of our business.  An unedited unfinished copy can be found at this link.

Toro introduced the first affordable Snowthrower for homeowner use in the mid 1950’s, and Leiser’s offered the first Toro snowthrowers to the homeowners of the Lehigh Valley. We sold and serviced Toro and Ariens Snowthrowers until 2006.  The Snowthrower business became unprofitable as the discount retailers under-priced us.  The discount retailers were able to do this by selling a stripped down version of what we sold and eliminating product support.  When you purchased a Snowthrower from Leiser’s It was assembled adjusted and delivered free of any charges.  Our customers were instructed on the Snowthrowers use and if our customer had a problem we would brave any snowstorm to take care of it. 

During a blizzard in 1966 Linden Street in Bethlehem was closed by 8’ snow drifts.  We cleared Linden st to a passable side street so our driver could make deliveries.  During the next few days our driver was out on the road past 10 or 11 at night delivering new machines picking up equipment that needed service.  Many times this meant clearing the street with the Snowthrower to get to the customers house.   Everyone else in our business was assembling new machines or repairing customer breakdowns this would include us kids and our friends. 

We understood our customers’ needs and knew the number of snowthrowers and the amount of parts we needed to stock, even if we didn't know when the next storm would hit.  We stocked more dollars in parts then most dealers stocked in equipment.  In 2006 the year we dropped Toro our retail parts inventory was almost $55,000.00.  We stocked 10 auger belts for every Snowthrower model we had sold the previous 20 years.  We were at our best during a snowstorm.  Something I still pride myself in.  One particular Snowstorm in the 70’s my father left the house in cross country skis and I rode my snowmobile on a 10 mile trek to get the store open.  My trip included several miles on a 4 lane highway.  For a large storm I would even spend the night in the store so it would open on time.

During the snowy winter of 1995 there were no snowthrowers available on the east coast.  Even the discount retailers were sold out.  We found Toro Snowthrowers in snow-less Utah dealerships and had them shipped in for our customers.

Times have changed.  We try to offer the same services to the owners of the discount house customers however we are limited.  We can only stock parts that we know we can sell.  Unlike The Toro Company we cannot return obsolete parts for credit.  Many times requests for parts are for models that we have never seen before, or equipment from companies that have shut down.  This year a customer requested service for a Red Chinese built Snowthrower sold online.  Chinese engines are even showing up on name brand machines in such large numbers, they forced the largest US producer of Snowthrower engines to quit engine and parts production.   

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