Tired of being “bullied by the snow,” Paul Starner and Jerry Schichtel, of Traverse City, decided to fight back.
They created the Snow Bully, a four-wheel steel shovel with a 34-inch blade that clears snow easily.
“It was an invention of necessity,” says Starner, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member who’s in charge of marketing the product that Schichtel created.
“I have a lot of physical challenges and I don’t move around very well. I needed something to move snow with that didn’t take very much effort,” Starner explains. “That’s what the Snow Bully is.”
Five years ago, Schichtel watched neighbor Starner struggle as he attempted to use his snow blower. That gave Schichtel an idea. He and his brother had already created the prototype for the Snow Bully back in the 1940s when they were growing up on a farm. It was made out of wood.
After watching Starner finish up that day, Schichtel walked over and told him about his idea to re-create his wooden snow remover.
Starner listened, and then asked Schichtel to make a modern version. It took five attempts, but they finally came up with a product both liked, and so they shook hands and became partners.
The next step was finding someone to produce the Snow Bully. Starner, who has spent his career in the real estate business, searched the state and found Mark Goodman of MDG Welding in Blissfield.
“Last winter was our first selling the Snow Bully, and wouldn’t you know it, we didn’t get much snow,” Starner laughs. “Still, we sold 161 of them.
It sells for $249, plus $29.95 shipping in the U.S.
“We market our product on the internet,” Starner says. “People can go to our website and do it all—read about it, see pictures and videos of it in action, and then order it. The orders go directly to Mark Goodman in Blissfield and UPS ships them from his business.”
Starner not only likes the ease of using the Snow Bully, he calls it “eco-friendly.”
“You use calories, not gasoline,” he says. “It is very friendly to the environment, and we’re in the process of creating attachments for the Snow Bully. We’re working on a scraper blade, a garden cart basket, and we’re also looking at an eco-mower. That would make this something you can use year-round and not use any gasoline.”
So far, the Snow Bully has been an internet hit.
“We’ve sold it to as far away as Newfoundland,” Starner explains. “And in the states, from Washington to Maine and then from New York to North Carolina.
“Social media is the new way to market. Not only do we have our internet site, we post videos on YouTube,” Starner adds. “Jerry and I really don’t see the product after we give the okay to have it made. People agree to buy it online, pay for it through their PayPal account, and then it’s shipped from Blissfield. It’s all pretty clean.”
And it’s all pretty satisfying to Paul and Jerry.
“There’s nothing more frustrating to me than moving snow,” Starner says. “That’s why the ‘Snow Bully’ is great….it’s just simple. You don’t need to have much upper body strength to move snow.”