Winter Work: Adding Snow Removal Services to Keep Crews Busy

Western Septic & Excavation employees spend the off-season handling snowplowing for its small town

Winter Work: Adding Snow Removal Services to Keep Crews Busy

As any installer in a snowy state knows, business can all but dry up in the winter and then you’re stuck trying to keep employees busy. Kendall Unruh, his brother Brandon and their father, Maynard, owners of Western Septic & Excavation in Buhl, Idaho, figure you can’t fight the weather, so you might as well work with it.

When they can’t do septic installations or pumping, they keep employees working by providing snow removal services for local businesses — apartment complexes, medical offices, retail stores, gas stations, banks, churches, groceries, nursing homes and restaurants.

“We started with an old tractor and an old snowplow in 2006,” Unruh says. “At that point, there were three people doing snow removal in Buhl. One decided he didn’t want to do it anymore and sold us a box plow and his route. The other went to work for the city and just gave us his route, leaving us as the only snow company in town.” Although they currently have a corner on the market, they don’t take it for granted and they work hard to keep customers happy.

Equipment now includes five straight and V plows from Hiniker and BOSS, a shop-built 10-foot snow pusher attached to their Case backhoe, a John Deere 4010 compact tractor, a John Deere 52-inch snowplow with a 48-inch rear box plate, a John Deere 48-inch snowblower, two SnowEx walk-behind spreaders and walk-behind single-stage snowblowers from Toro and Briggs & Stratton.

The company has about 60 commercial accounts in the town of 3,700. “It’s interesting because in a little town like ours, you drive through it and you don’t really think there’s much there, but you start going to all those places and it adds up,” Unruh says. “Sidewalks make up the majority of our snow income because we get a lot of little 1/2- or 1-inch snows. Like, for a pharma complex, they need to keep them safe. So we go in where we don’t need to plow but do those little snows a lot.”

Some years there’s not a lot of snow, but in other years, snow removal is what really gets them through the winter, Unruh says. “It helps us make payroll when it’s too cold or wet or nasty or muddy to be out installing.”

Read more about Western Septic & Excavation in this month’s issue of Onsite Installer magazine.


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