As the operations manager for North Point Outdoors, headquartered in Derry, New Hampshire, Robert Fairburn oversees the company’s entire snow operations from fleet and equipment management to storm operations. He’s only 25 years old but has been with the company for seven years and has been in charge of operations for two. That includes overseeing $1 million in snow revenue and managing upwards of 60 employees during a snow event — which occur frequently in New England. With so much snow, it’s important that North Point Outdoors is on their game, which they’ve undoubtedly been. A 98-percent retention rate from last season speaks to both the company’s success as well as Fairburn’s excellent management capabilities.
When we first started out, we didn’t have separate “plow kits” for each truck and piece of equipment. That was a mistake. Now each truck is equipped with its own plow kit consisting of the following important items: wrench and socket set, flashlight, complete hydraulic line set for Fisher V2-Plow, zip ties, ratchet strap and a tow strap. With those items, we’re ready to go.
My iPad with its stand are essential for communication. I use the iPad for GPS tracking, weather reports, employee pay clock monitoring, and for email for client and office communication.
We believe maintenance and upkeep are essential. Each truck in our fleet, including mine, is maintained after each winter event by taking these nine steps:
- Hot water pressure wash of each truck, plow and spreader unit.
- Full grease application.
- Oil check.
- Strobe light and back-up light check.
- Fluid film application for plow, truck underbody and spreader.
- Damage repair as needed.
- Plow cutting bolt check and replace as needed.
- Interior clean and window cleaning as needed.
- Fluid top off.
My iPhone 6+ with the Spotify application for tunes helps keep me sane. I also always have water on hand. Music and water are all I need to work hours on end. I take some time in the beginning of each snow season to create playlists that will keep things interesting.
Our custom-built sander frames are fairly unique. This design and build is something that we have done in-house. It allows for easy cleaning, storage of ice melt and shovels, as well as multiple areas for lights to connect to. The visibility increase allows for operator ease.
Window scraper for continuous window cleaning
Spare wiper blades because the two above items don’t always cut it
Straps and chains for “short chaining” the plow when it becomes inoperable and for being towed out of a “tight spot”
Spare hydraulic lines and fluid to keep the plow in constant operation
Gasoline for the spreader
Ground temperature laser thermometer for checking the ground temperature to determine salting operations
A complete plow kit, which has the rest of the essentials