CLIVE, Iowa — Dennis Donati has been tinkering away at Bruce Engine in Clive for 38 years.
If you break it, chances are he can fix it. He’s got roughly fifteen snowblowers in the shop now, servicing them for winter. He normally has up to thirty or so needing repairs before the season starts in October. There are some machines in the front showroom, but they’re not for sale.
For the first time ever he couldn’t justify purchasing new snowblowers to sell.
“I sell Snapper and Simplicity and the engine manufacturer is in China,” Donati said. “I guess the tariffs coming out of there is pretty high. My (sales) rep said you won’t be able to afford them.”
Margins are so tight, only big box stores can afford to buy the bulk amount of snowblowers to make a profit, Donati said.
While you can find new snowblowers at large retail stores, they have no way to fix issues if they break down other than replacement if it comes with a warranty. Donati said he built his business on the sales and service he offers. It’s sad to see the sales side go away for now.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to get any better,” Donati said.