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Training, daily reminders and safety protocols are key

By Connie Lannan

November 15, 2023

Taylor True Value Rental in Petoskey

Franklin Wied, Elizabeth Slater, Chris Troncosa, Jack Bishop.

Being located at the top of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula on Little Traverse Bay, the winter months for the team at Taylor True Value Rental in Petoskey can be treacherous. Safety has to be at the forefront of everything they do, according to Angela Bishop, CERP, co-owner.

The first component of their winter safety protocol is preparation. “We make sure before winter that all our trucks go in for snow tires and get their tune-ups to ensure their brakes are good. We also equip the trucks with brushes, sandbags and kitty litter for those that aren’t four-wheel drive,” she says, adding that when the snow starts to fall, they pull all equipment into their bays.

For their equipment with diesel engines, they make sure all have plug-ins to a heater block. “Cold weather is really hard on diesel engines. Keeping them warm all winter is good for maintaining them,” she says.

Integral to that preparation is training. “We offer all our drivers ARA’s [American Rental Association] Professional Driver Education Program. We also step them up to the larger vehicles over time. We start with the normal pickup truck and then move to a box truck and trailer after that. Most of our drivers have been driving in the winters for several years before we have them deliver for us,” she says, adding that once the weather turns, their cargo van doesn’t go out “because it is such a light vehicle.”

“Unfortunately, up here the weather is as reliable as roulette and always doesn’t give us a good idea. We are always prepared and always err on the side of caution,” says Angela Bishop, CERP, Taylor True Value Rental

Continual watching of the weather falls to Bishop and her co-owner husband, Jack. “Jack and I monitor the weather about two days out. Unfortunately, up here the weather is as reliable as roulette and always doesn’t give us a good idea. We are always prepared and always err on the side of caution,” she says.

The Bishops also offer daily reminders to their drivers about the weather conditions and allowing enough lead time and distance between vehicles to make sure they can get to their destinations safely.

Once the snow arrives, the Bishops stop delivery of all party tents. “We don’t carry snow-rated tents. We have allowed some frame tents to go out for construction crews over the winter, but the contractor has to pay for us to remove any snow from the tent unless they are capable of doing it themselves,” she says.

When the roads become challenging, they also limit deliveries. “We make sure trucks don’t go out until 10 a.m., after the plows have been on the road. Limiting deliveries with the loads or timing really helps. We also stop our equipment deliveries when the schools are closed. If it is bad enough that kids can’t go to school, we won’t deliver equipment,” Bishop says.

Besides driving measures, the Bishops take steps to ensure their employees’ and customers’ safety by:

  • Contracting with a company to snowplow their parking lot before anyone arrives and having staff continually salt the parking lot and sidewalks as well as shovel throughout the day as necessary.
  • Taking ice off their roof. “We have a metal roof. The idea is that the snow doesn’t stick to it. It does a great job of that, but when you get the residual ice buildup, that can be a problem. My shop hand takes the lift to make sure all the ice is off,” she says.
  • Having mats that run all the way to the counter, with counter staff mopping up the floor, vacuuming or replacing mats as necessary as well as putting up signage to forewarn customers of a possible slippery area.
  • Loading all the equipment for their customers. “We have numerous dollies and carts to wheel directly to their vehicle so they don’t have to come to the bay,” she says.

Bishop has learned that “cold weather is not always common sense. It is best to caution everyone even if they have heard it a thousand times. It is always good to have it at the forefront of their brain,” she says, because safety is that important.