Interview with the founder of "Snowdog Users Group"
In 2017 Mark Berardo, a Vermont State resident, purchased a Snowdog. Soon after this, thank to him, Snowdog Users Group, was created. There are currently 4.2 thousand followers. Perhaps, this is the largest English-speaking community in social networks dedicated to this type of machine under this brand.
Of course, it would be remiss not to interview Mark. We recommend reading it to the end. He tells how he created and developed this group he administers, how Mark uses his Snowdog for 5 years, why he needs two Snowdogs, which modifications he made, how his family feels about this and how happy he is.
— Mark, you are the administrator of a group with more than 4 thousand participants who are passionate about Snowdog. It's unique. Could you please tell us how, when and why this group appeared?
— Back in 2017 I saw the need to have a place for owners and users to capture all of their ideas and adventures. We needed a meeting place for the owners all over the world. We could have used a website or a message board or any other of the options on the Internet, but it seemed Facebook groups was the best option and the easiest for people to use. It was also easy for me to manage because I knew it had the potential to grow. It has been a great medium for us, not too difficult to manage and easy for people to search and post. I could not have predicted we would be well over 4000 members in such a short time!
— Perhaps you bought a Snowdog and wanted to be friends with the people who own it as well?
— I bought my first Snowdog in 2017 as an extension to my grooming fleet. I had the ROKON 2 wheel drive motorcycle, and long track snowmobiles primarily. Our single track is steep and twisty, and with deeper snowfalls I needed something more reliable and easier to get through the woods. The Snowdog was a perfect addition to the fleet and I have since sold everything else and rely totally on the Snowdogs for this task. It has easily exceeded all my expectations. They are a simple tool and do everything I ask of them and more.
— Within a few years, a large community of enthusiastic people has formed. The group has established itself. People come there to ask for or give advice, share opinions, joy... More than 4 thousand people — who are they, these people?
— Admittedly their group has really grown from people all over the world. Though the primary use of the Snowdog is ice fishing people use their Snowdogs for everything year round. Fat bike trail grooming is a big one as is getting to and from their camps, general enjoyment of exploring the outside, hauling wood to their house or logs or just general work outside. They really enjoy the vibe and community we have built with Facebook group. It makes owning one and getting together a much more enjoyable experience.
— What models do you personally have?
— I have the 13.5 horsepower Standard model with reverse that I bought in 2017, I also have a 2022 Sport model with reverse that I added last fall. This was a great addition for me. They both have modifications to the hitch for towing a trail groomer behind them.
— Fine! Can you tell us how you bought your first Snowdog 5 years ago?
— When I bought there were no local dealers and I had to talk my dealer — Land-Air into buying two of them, when I only really needed one. He immediately sold the second one and then place multiple orders over the years. Last year his three year running showed he was the number one dealer in North America. Every batch he gets sells out almost immediately. We definitely live in the right place (Vermont) for Snowdogs.
— And how often do you meet people with Snowdogs there, in Vermont?
— Locally here everyone uses Snowdogs now to groom their fatbike winter trails. We are a close knit group that share our ideas, parts and knowledge on Snowdogs to keep everybody going through the winter. If someone has an issue the other guys step in as required. Most of us use them for work so there’s not much time for recreation. There is a separate group even larger using them for ice fishing. We are located on one of the biggest lakes in the United states, Lake Champlain at over 100 miles long. Ice fishing in the winter is very popular here and people like the versatility, flexibility, and simplicity of the Snowdog.
— Can you please tell us how you usually use your Snowdogs?
— I use them both for grooming winter fatbike trails. This is very hard work for any machine. This can start as early as November and go into April for us. With two groomers I can have someone help and split the work in half which has made my job much easier maintaining the trails. We are currently maintaining the one of the largest and one of the nicest trail systems in the northeast currently for winter fatbiking. Without the Snowdogs it would not be possible.
— Interesting. So are you happy with Snowdog?
— I am certainly happy with the Snowdog for the use that I have for it. It has been easy to maintain and reliable for me. I would never have bought a second one if I wasn’t happy with how it works for me. I recommend them highly for this use.
— Thank you. Impressive. But it's also important to us to learn something. Were there any technical issues? Especially after 5 years of usage.
— There was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning with the use of the product for fatbikes. It did not take long to build up a list of things that needed to be checked, adjusted, or replaced to keep things running the way they should. Both of them have original engines, tracks, and most of the stock components. I have replaced the chain, sprockets, clutch parts and some bearings. This is to be expected with the use. The 2017 has over well over 3000 miles, all of them pulling a drag to smooth out the snow. Not and easy life but still going strong. I am enjoying all of the improvements on the 2022!
— Fine. Meanwhile, you regularly follow our publications. Thank you. How do you like the news about the relocation of Snowdog production to the USA?
— This is great news for the customers and the dealers. I think it will make it easier to ship parts and stock them in the correct locations, and definitely easier to get the units shipped to dealers and ultimately in the hands of customers and reduce the wait time. To keep a customer long term, you need a positive easy experience in buying and maintaining a piece of equipment. This move will go a long way towards that goal.
— Thanks. What would you like to wish or advise?
— It would be good to try to bring more of your models to North America. I think the electric versions look awesome and people would love to have them over here. Most of the improvements that people have been asking for you already put into the Sport model. Every year you have been improving the product and it’s been easy to see. Keep up the progression and don’t stop advancing the product. I would like to see you offer a more robust hitch and drag from the factory for grooming trails.
— OK. We will take note of this. At the end, please tell us about yourself. What is your profession, what are your hobbies?
— I spent 40 years in the electronic field, mostly working for semiconductor equipment suppliers. I’m currently retired which gives me a lot of time outside during the winter. Snowmobiling, fatbiking, trail grooming and other activities in the winter and it goes by pretty fast! In the summer I am bicycling, motorcycling, riding jet skis or flying remote control airplanes in between normal family and household obligations.
— Is your family supportive?
— I have a super supportive family headed up by my awesome wife. Without her there is no way any of this would be possible.
— Wow! And what do they think about Snowdog?
— They think: it’s another one of dads crazy ideas, and they would be right. My granddaughter likes it the best and has had many, many rides in the sled behind the Snowdog, she loves to explore through the fields and woods. It’s a very big adventure for her as she is only seven now. She has been taking rides in it almost since she was born. She looks forward to the winter so she can go on more rides, soon she will be able to drive it herself!