ROCKLAND, Maine — Friday's snowstorm across the state brought out hundreds of plow trucks to clear the roads.
The snowstorm that swept through Virginia earlier this week left some drivers stranded on Interstate 95 for nearly 30 hours. If there's one thing to learn from this, it's the crucial role plows play during snowstorms.
It's pretty common to be out driving and see a bright yellow Fisher plow attached to pickup trucks during the winter. Some people may not know that those plows, now used across the country, were first created in Maine during the 1950s. Dean Fisher made Fisher engineering. The manufacturer specializes in snow and ice control. Workers at the facility in Rockland can produce the products from start to finish.
"They're dependable [and] reliable. The people we get them from any time we have any issues, they're quick to get them in and get them fixed so we can keep them on the road," Christal Rider, plow truck driver for Glenburn Landscape & Co., said.
Charles Reed is a business unit supervisor at the Rockland facility and has worked there since 1984. He said he's watched the company grow exponentially over the years, especially in the last 15 years.
"Once they fabricate the parts, they go into the welding department. That moves on to another business unit, actually our coating line. And then it gets back to my business unit, and a group of people assemble and pack that product," Reed said.
Fisher products are shipped to distributors across the country. The workers say the demand for these plows is so high, products are often sold before they're even made.
"Each product goes through a multi-year development cycle where we start out with engineering and analysis and move on to prototyping and testing, winter validations, [and] more testing before ultimately being released to production," Tucker Hill, engineering supervisor, said.
Fisher sells products to almost everyone, from state contractors clearing the highways to someone looking to attach one to their pickup.
"We have a factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We manufacture in Madison Heights, Michigan. We also have a plant in Henderson, which is out in Iowa," Jennifer Andrews, senior human resource manager, said.
The facility employs about 350 Mainers. The workers there feel there's one thing in particular that sets them apart, the people. Elaine Jones, business unit supervisor, said it's a great place to work, and when she sees a Fisher plow on the road, she feels a great sense of pride.
"When I see a truck full of fisher plows, the big boxes, the sanders go by, I'm like, 'We made those.' That's the first thing I say to people. I'm like, 'We made those. Right in Rockland,'" Jones said.
Fisher Engineering also offers a number of other products like hoppers used to treat the roads with salt and sand before and after storms.