60 Seconds with SAM
A mountain resort does more than offer skiing and riding: it is a complex web of year round services that cater to the recreational needs of millions of outdoor enthusiasts. "60 Seconds with SAM" brings you the latest innovations from industry suppliers with a 60-second video and a Q&A interview with SAM.
Park Diggers brings cutting edge design and technology to terrain park tools.
JP Martin, owner and founder of
Park Diggers, sits down with SAM...
Where did the idea come from to make such an innovative park tool as the Park Digger rake? What made you realize the industry needed something like this?
The idea came from wanting a better tool for the job. For years, we had to try and explain why a $60 landscape rake wouldn't hold up to what we needed it to do. For some reason, our bosses didn't have a problem replacing the cheaper rakes a few times a season, but it seemed so wasteful. We loved the tools that were out there, but wanted to include some ideas that kept coming up. We wanted to start at the handle, and work our way down to the head, adding features that came to mind during our research and development.
Tell us more about the rake's design process. How long has it been in development? What were some of the trials and tribulations of diving into a design that had never been tried before?
Luckily, we found a guy that was wise beyond his years in the metal shop world, and he helped turn our napkin sketches into usable prototypes. It was a great morale booster for the crew to get a new rake to test. The design took shape over the course of three winters. I think we drove the metal shop guy a little nuts with the process. We didn't reinvent the wheel, we just gave it curb appeal. There are some good designs out there, we just wanted to have a pro tool that would hold up to the stresses of day-to-day use.
Elaborate on the construction and materials used. What have you incorporated into the construction of this rake that makes it one of the most durable park tools out there?
We use aircraft aluminum because it has the resilience that works the best in a harsh work environment. No tool is going to last forever, and people find the strangest ways to misuse/break tools. Take care to use them for the job they are designed to do, and they can last for years. Use a pick-axe if you need a hole, get a prybar to lift features, and use a chainsaw to get your heavy shaping work done. You shouldn't use a crescent wrench as a hammer. (I'm sure we have all tried that at one point.)
What about the ergonomic features? What kind of research went into the Reaper handle to make it more comfortable for park crews to use?
We wanted a grip that you could use with the extra width of a snow glove, so we came up with our own design. We also wanted a handle that would almost eliminate ripping your hoody pockets, and pant zippers, so we came up with the shepherds' hook design. The crew soon renamed it the “Reaper Handle” to be more core. They thought the original name was soft.
The design is for right-handed use, but we do stock left-handed ones as well. The approach angle of the rake face is slackened like a downhill bike frame. You can use your biceps, and legs, to move more snow when the handle sits at belt level.
How many rakes models are available to choose from?
We have a solid construction model rake that we call the Park Digger. It is the original design that we have refined over the years. The Connector Series is the same rake, with a billet insert that uses heavy duty, replaceable inserts and allen head hardware. This spring we will be releasing our new rake, the SCüP (Snow Cat U Push), a really creative new shape that has never been used before! It will find a home in the parks, and for lift ramps. Our Vert cutter is designed to make your park look contest-ready every day. The tranny shovel has a stainless head that works with the aluminum Connector Series extensions. It is unique because of the Tanto cutting edge, which helps it track straighter when shaping bigger features.
What does the pricing look like for resorts?
The modular system makes the cost of buying our rakes more affordable. It lets resorts mix and match implements or replace only the damaged parts if there are any. Our base model Rake starts at $145, the Connector Series at $225. Adding additional heads or extensions doubles the usefulness of the Connector Rakes and brings costs down when outfitting a department.
Shipping has long been a difficult part of purchasing rakes. Pallet shipping a single rake doesn't make sense because of the cost. We can ship the Connector Series in a cardboard box, which makes these rakes appealing if you just want to try one out before committing to a larger order.