Swenson Spreader Co.
Issue Fall 12
For people living in the northern hemisphere, with snowy and icy winters, there isn’t a more welcoming sight than a snowplow clearing a path in the road, spreading salt or sand during a snowstorm. The right equipment and the right amount of equipment available to a municipality is the difference between maintaining productivity and stopping the normal flow of life for those communities.
When a city is not able to clear the roads to make them safe for drivers after a snowstorm, the implications go beyond the inconvenience of not being able to go to the store or the movies. Blocked roads mean lost business, diminished worker productivity and, ultimately, less money. That is why municipalities in areas with harsh winter conditions make sure their snow and ice removal equipment is up to the demands of their needs.
Swenson Spreader Co. of Lindenwood, Ill., has been making snow and ice control equipment for the past 75 years. The company is a leader in its industry, selling its products in North America, Europe and Asia from manufacturing facilities in the United Sates.
The company is able to provide equipment for light use like push spreaders used by towns in small areas for sidewalks, but it also manufactures high output spreaders designed for airports. Swenson makes spreaders that can be easily mounted on a pick-up truck or larger versions for use on trucks. All its products are customizable to fit customer needs.
When it comes to snow equipment, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all application. Products typically are custom made to fit a customer’s needs not only in function, but also in appearance. Every region has its own issues and needs when it comes with snow. It is not the same to remove snow from a mountain as it is from a flat surface on a paved road or on rural, unpaved thoroughfares.
“Each government agency has their own requirements as to what they need the products to do and we work to understand their exact needs,” General Manager Eric Larsen explains.
Customization is done at the functional level and also to give the equipment the right look and color specified by each client. “We do powder coating because we do a high number of custom products, and we do it ourselves because our clients are all from different areas and they require custom colors,” he says. “It’s easier and more economical if we do it ourselves than if we send the equipment out to be painted.”
Powder coating is an electrostatic application of a colored coating which is followed by curing the piece under heat to bind the paint to the surface. This process creates a hard finish that is tougher than conventional coating methods.
The end result is equipment that is capable of sustaining harsh weather conditions and exposure to corrosive agents, such as salt, longer than Swenson Spreader’s competitors.
Besides producing a more resilient end product, powder coating is more environmentally friendly than traditional painting since it does not contain solvents and it does not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. The excess powder also can easily be recycled, producing less waste.
The biggest change in the industry Larsen has seen in the past 10 years has been the “increased expectation of the ease of use of the product,” he says. “Swenson Spreader addressed that expectation by creating a full line of spreaders that are driven by electric motors,” he explains. “We have the broadest offering of electric driven spreaders in the market.”
These electric-driven spreaders produce zero emissions; have low noise emissions; and no polluting byproducts such as gas, oil or hydraulic fluids, making them also environmentally friendly products.
The equipment is manufactured with 60 percent recycled stainless steel content in what Larsen calls a “focused factory environment.” All pieces of equipment are produced one piece at a time in their designated areas as orders come in, so the factory does not produce excess waste or parts that are not needed.
“We are vertically integrated, from sheet metal to fabrication, from welding, to assembly,” Larsen explains about the efficient workflow.
Larsen expects his company will continue growing for another 75 years with its distributors. “What really sets us apart from our competition is our partnership with our distributors,” he says. “We work very closely with our distributors to create solutions that will meet the needs of the end-user of our products.”
At Swenson Spreader it is all about teamwork. “I am most proud of the people we have working here,” Larsen continues. “Everyone is willing to go above and beyond to meet the customer’s expectations.”