Eric Welk is used to high-pressure, high-stress, and highly-demanding work. After all, he’s a firefighter. But that’s only part of his story.
Eric is also the owner of Welk’s Lawn Care in West Fargo, ND. He started the company in 2014 and offers lawn mowing, fertilization and weed control, lawn and landscape maintenance, and, snow management services. Most recently, he increased his commitment to the snow side of his business by entering the commercial snow management market.
With a mix of residential and commercial snow customers, Welk’s Lawn Care is ultimately responsible for getting people where they need to go, safely, clearing snow from roads to create safe driving conditions and scraping it from sidewalks to prevent slip-and-falls.
With safety and timeliness driving factors of the business, Eric’s team – and their equipment – must be ready to work on a moment’s notice, which is why their partnership with RDO Equipment Co. is so important.
Service and Support
Five years ago, Eric started his company with a few lawn tractors and basic lawn care services. Once he chose to add snow plowing and snow blowing services, he began working with RDO Equipment Co., first to add small snowblowers to the fleet, then progressing to larger tractors and attachments.
“We started working with RDO Equipment Co. because it had the equipment we wanted,” Eric said. But more than that, Eric recognized RDO Equipment Co. would provide the service and support needed for this demanding line of work.
And demanding it is. In addition to what most customers see – plowing and blowing during actual snow events – Eric’s team also applies salt and de-icing product, cleans up snow piles, hauls away excess snow, and clears snow drifts on an ongoing basis.
“When it’s snowing, that’s only one part of the job,” he said. “We work before the storm, during the storm, and after the storm. It’s 24/7 at times.”
Another challenging aspect is one that’s no stranger to many industries: labor. Nick Arndt, Welk’s Lawn Care’s Account Manager at RDO Equipment Co., has worked with snow management companies for years and has seen this firsthand.
“It’s tough to find people eager to get up at 2 a.m., push snow 12-16 hours a day, and have their job dictated by the weather,” he explains.
The combination of demands makes RDO Equipment Co.’s service and support especially crucial. RDO Equipment Co. offers a 24/7 parts and service support line, giving Welk’s Lawn Care access to resources outside of the normal 8-5 workday.
“We work all hours of the day and night so if we have a breakdown or emergency, there’s always someone at RDO we can contact to help us,” Eric said. “That’s so important because we can’t have downtime. And RDO does everything to ensure we don’t.”
The Welk’s team also takes advantage of RDO Equipment Co. offerings like mobile service units that come to them when repairs are needed, a Parts OnSite cabinet at their shop they keep stocked with common wear parts, and RDO Equipment Co.’s bulk oil program. They also appreciate loaner equipment options so that, if a machine goes down, they can get something while it’s being repaired.
“The extreme environment snow equipment experiences, things are going to break at some point, no matter what,” Nick said. “We do everything we can to prevent those issues, but we have to be equally prepared for the unexpected ones that come with operating in freezing temperatures and rough conditions.”
Which leads into the second half of the companies’ partnership and the piece that’s essentially the foundation of it – quality equipment.
Just as important as providing service and support, Nick takes his role in providing equipment solutions to the Welk’s team very seriously. In addition to getting to know his customers’ business, he researches and evaluates equipment so he can make the best recommendations.
He has helped Eric grow the fleet that began with a small tractors to now include larger tractors like the John Deere 4066R and John Deere 5125R. Watch this video to see how one of the newest machines, the John Deere X700 lawn tractor, has been a great fit.
Nick has also worked to expand RDO Equipment Co.’s attachment offerings to provide Eric the best snow equipment, including Metal Pless hydraulic wing snowplows and Pronovost industrial snowblowers, both top industry brands from Quebec, Canada.
“I want to provide equipment that’s going to help them do quality work and grow their business,” Nick says of his partnership with Welk’s Lawn Care. “I feel like I’m part of the company, not just a guy selling them machines.”
Eric agrees and says one of the reasons the partnership works well is he and Nick share a like-minded approach to equipment. With the combined issues of timeliness and labor, Welk’s Lawn Care needs equipment that’s efficient and can do more with less, so he and Nick are often looking into new machines or those equipped with the latest technology.
When Eric was on the hunt recently for a new commercial machine to complement his existing tractor fleet, he turned to Nick and found it: The John Deere 344L Loader. The company had yet to own a loader and Eric had a few requirements specific to the nature of his business.
“We needed something with pushing power, agility, and the ability to stack snow,” he said. The 344L checked all the boxes. One unique feature is the Articulation Plus steering system, allowing tight turns even while carrying large loads of snow. And the 344L is capable of speeds up to 25 mph, essential for going from site to site quickly.
In only a month of operating, Eric noticed all the key things he was looking for indeed were true, and these new efficiencies have allowed the team to get through its commercial route faster. Best of all, they enjoy operating the 344L – crucial in the snow removal business.
“It’s a comfortable cab, it’s spacious, heated, and the controls are intuitive,” Eric said. “That’s important when you’re spending more than half the day in a machine.”
At the end of those long, sometimes grueling days moving pile after pile of snow, Eric says it’s all worth it – both to fulfill his enjoyment of owning his own business and his personal commitment to the community.
“I grew up in North Dakota and I love it here,” he said. “With this business, I’m able to provide the community a service it really needs, provide that reliability for people, and provide job opportunities.”
Whether attacking heat and flames as a firefighter or battling snow and ice with the Welk’s Lawn Care team, it’s safe to say the community is in good hands with Eric and his colleagues.
------Learn more by visiting the Welk’s Lawn Care website. Connect with Welk’s Lawn Care on Facebook and follow the Welk’s Lawn Care team on Instagram.
Find out more about John Deere compact construction equipment and heavy equipment for sale from RDO Equipment Co. To see full offerings, including both new and used equipment for sale, or demo a machine, visit your local RDO Equipment Co. store.