Living in Wisconsin I find that I need to have a certain mindset to embrace the change of seasons and prepare for the inevitable cold and snow that will eventually blanket the Midwest. Typical annual rituals for me involve putting snow tires on the car, winterizing the lawn mower and digging the snow blower out of the shed.
This year as I dug the snow blower out of its summer hibernation spot, it was apparent that the old snow blower which I affectionately referred to as rusty but trusty was likely fast approaching just plain rusty.
So after a lot of web research and close consultation with my friend Chris Sherwin (best described as an ‘all things with small engines’ aficionado), I decided to go with a nice shiny new Ariens two-stage snow blower. Ariens has a great reputation and I liked the idea of buying from a Wisconsin-based company with a long history. The particular unit I bought had an automatic steering feature that they claim is significantly easier to use, which is intriguing to me as I start to think about delegating snow blowing to my teenage son or other willing family members when I am traveling.
So I anxiously awaited a snowfall worthy of this new machine’s maiden voyage, only to be disappointed with the first snow event being a paltry inch or two that normally would have been quick work with just a shovel. At the risk of looking foolish to my neighbors I went ahead and fired up my new toy and dispersed the fluffy white stuff covering the driveway. Disappointed that the first use wasn’t a more intensive test, I pulled my fancy new machine into the garage convinced that I would need to wait for a bigger storm to be impressed with this particular purchase.
Attention to detail is a product differentiator regardless of what your product is.
As I was working in the garage I glanced over at the snow blower just in time to watch a bit of snow melt and slide off of the gas tank. This absolutely trivial event caught my eye and I quickly realized that the gas tank had an integral flange that was specifically designed to channel melting snow off of the top of the gas tank and onto the floor while minimizing how much of the water dumped onto the main body of the snow blower below. I’m sure that the feature probably originated with a need to make sure melting snow didn’t get to the gas cap, but the fact that a flange is purposefully channeling water off the side of the unit was clearly deliberate and thoughtful. With this realization I was immediately overcome with respect and admiration for the development team at Ariens that paid attention to what might otherwise be considered an insignificant detail. In a world full of competitive marketing snippets that seem to be dominated by big headline features such as auto-turn steering and integral hand warmers, Ariens took the time to sweat the small stuff.
Now it might be the engineering blood pumping through my veins, but this simple little design detail for me is akin to maintaining tight body panel gaps on a high end sports car. Attention to detail is a product differentiator regardless of what your product is.
So I still haven’t had a chance to give the snow blower a true test, but this little detail has me confident I won’t be disappointed. Nice job Ariens!
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