Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Eggs & Finish Line Follies

I can see the end from here now. Three more shifts this week and another season goes into the books. All in all, it's been a good one.

Business wise I dunno...I have a feeling that our midweek visits were up over last season, but I've managed to miss all the business meetings this year. I think most of our Holiday Weekends escaped heavy weather as well...I'm thinking business was good. Lately I've been surprised several times by the midweek numbers...maybe I shouldn't be surprised...the skiing's been great, along with the weather.

From my Groomer's standpoint, it's been a great season. Yeah, there were a few nights of rain, but not enough for real depression to set in. The long mid-winter dry spell was accompanied by cold temperatures, so grooming and skiing were good enough to endure. Once the storm doors reopened in mid March, snow and skiers kept coming in droves.

Maybe it's the protective fog of memory, but I don't recall many bad nights. Oh sure, I found plenty to belly ache about, but no killer-bad shifts...well OK, maybe the one where I drove four cats and finished in the mobile crock pot known as the Shop Cat. For the most part, I drove my own BR350 nine nights out of ten.

I'm gonna miss that the oldest cat in the frontline fleet, she's scheduled for trade in after the season. She's the last of her breed too...our second BR350. We've been buying Bisons ever since. Yeah, the Bison is just a BR350 with Rexroth pumps and motors instead of Sunstrands, but what the Bisons gain in speed they give back in torque.

In every way possible (except for ergonomically) Bombardier hit for the cycle when the BR350 came off the drawing board. Ever since they've been "fixing stuff that's not broken" Even when Bombardier sold their snowcat business to Prinoth the Italian maker of quirky grooming machines, the Italians couldn't leave well enough alone either.

Given my history in the trade, and my cockeyed optimism, I suspect I'll find more than enough to love once I strap on my new tractor next season.

Management loves 'em too. What we used to do with 12 shifts a night, we now do with 7. That's real money. I suspect that the increased efficiency has a secondary but more important impact. Operators are more likely to return season after season because the comfort and ease found in the throne of the BR350's

A happy, seasoned groomer in first rate equipment does a lot to improve quantity and quality of the product. There is a tipping point in the growth of groomers...when it becomes something like a calling.

The good ones are always trying to innovate...trying to do  more, better, with less. This season, I've added a couple of new routines to my bag of tricks...little things really...I've just added a few extra passes to my traveling passes, but these are like money in the bank...they pay dividends every morning.

2010 CenterX Bison
I figure my new tractor will be a CenterX Bison...if it's got as much leg room as the standard BR350, we'll do just fine.

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