Upfront: Madness before March


Dan Ariens, left, president and CEO of Ariens Company, presents a new Ariens Pro 32 Sno-Thro to Steve Liubakka.By Steve Noe

In my 13-plus years as editor of OPE magazine, I can’t recall a month when I heard two more bizarre stories involving outdoor power equipment than in February. One story was about a thief, and the other about a hero. Both stories went viral.

Now I’ve heard countless stories about burglars striking OPE dealerships. And I’m sure that shoplifters have stolen parts and other small items from many of you during the day, too. But I couldn’t believe when I learned that a man tried to walk out of a True Value hardware store Feb. 16 with a chain saw in, of all places, his shorts!

The 21-year-old man allegedly pulled the Echo chain saw from a display at Ross Seed Company in Chickasha, Okla., shoved it down the front of his long and baggy shorts, and headed for the exit. An employee saw the man walking with a limp, but assumed he was disabled. That was until he spotted the chain saw bar between the man’s legs. Several employees then chased the man, who eventually ditched the chain saw in a nearby field, climbed a tree, jumped down, and ran into someone’s house. The homeowner booted the man out of his house, and the employees continued their pursuit until the man dove headfirst into a shallow creek. Police pulled the man from the creek and arrested him. He was eventually charged with assault and battery, larceny, public intoxication, and possession of stolen property (which also included a dog collar and dog vaccination shots).

“First time I ever seen a chain saw go down anybody’s britches,” Paul Horton, the store manager, told Sarah Stewart of KFOR-TV, the local NBC affiliate.

On the other hand, Steve Liubakka of Diorite, Mich., was a hero Feb. 7 for using an Ariens Sno-Thro to control a fire at his neighbor’s house until the fire department arrived. Liubakka blew 16 inches of snow through the house’s front window and into the living room, where the fire started, and helped extinguish the flames.

“The fire chief told us, well, if it wasn’t for the snow blower, you wouldn’t have a house. The snow blower isn’t a $550,000 fire truck, but it did the job,” Liubakka said with a laugh to Nikki Junewicz of the local FOX affiliate.

In recognition of Liubakka’s heroic efforts, Dan Ariens, president and CEO of Ariens Company, personally delivered a new Pro 32 Sno-Thro to him on Feb. 15.

“The story really seemed to resonate with customers,” said Dan Ariens. “They were impressed with Mr. Liubakka’s quick response and wanted to be sure we were aware of it. We also heard from suppliers, dealers and employees who were proud to see a Sno-Thro used this way.”

Ariens Company learned from Liubakka that he used his son-in-law’s 36-year-old Ariens Sno-Thro to extinguish the fire.

“We felt he deserved some sort of recognition for his resourcefulness,” added Dan Ariens. “Replacing his old snow thrower with a new Ariens Sno-Thro just seemed fitting.”

OPE Editor Steve Noe


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