Hi, my name is David K. Harder and I am the son of Kenneth A. Harder (pictured above) who was the inventor behind the Harder Dump Box Spreader.

Here is a little history behind the history, In 1958 my dad, Ken Harder, started working for the Town of Arcadia Highway Department. I was seven years old at the time and even as young as I was I could understand what a big deal this was. My dad although very smart and talented, only went to school through the 9th grade. Back when things got tough on the farm everyone was expected to pitch in and help out. My Dads father (my grandfather) worked a 44-acre farm in the Town of Arcadia just north of the Ganargua Creek. A poor year of farming made it hard for him, my grandmother and my three aunts who along with my Dad all lived at home. Grandpa Harder took a job working on the N.Y.S. Barge Canal System, like a lock tender. This was a Godsend as things were pretty good along with the farm work. Long story short, politics changed in Albany and a new Governor took office. Within a few days, my grandfather lost his job because he was not enrolled in the same party as the “new boss in Albany”. That’s how things used to be back then – you were just a cog in a wheel, no more, no less. As a result, my dad, about to be a freshman in high school, quit school to take a job pumping gas in Newark, N.Y. Soon dad met my mom and then I came into the picture. My dad took a lot of odd jobs to make ends meet. He started his own landscape and nursery business and did very well until he had A difficult time collecting monies owed him.

Almost like a miracle the town highway job came about. Now anyone who’s in the highway business knows the number of hours these guys work, especially in the winter. In 1958 many of the roads were just gravel (dirt roads) very narrow and very crowded. Our town (Arcadia) had 2 sets of trucks that were used to maintain the roads when they were operational. We had the old Walters snow fighter with the plow and wings that would go out first to open the roads. Then the second bunch of small trucks with Sander/ Salter and front plows would follow to put down deicing and traction materials. You want to talk about maintenance and job security, it seemed like there was always at least two pieces of equipment broken down and in pieces on the shop floor. In 1972 my dad, Ken Harder, was approached by some local politicians that asked him to consider running for the office of Town Highway Superintendent. The old boss had decided he’d had enough and it was time for some new blood. My dad accepted and even though a long shot handily won the election.

Remember dad was an innovator and back then the towns would remove the dump boxes from the trucks and mount V box sanders. You can just imagine how much work this was. Seems like overnight, all trucks setup for snowplowing operations now had a sander. Suddenly there were no more trucks following the other to do half the job. Now it was a single truck with a plow a wing and a sander. Time and safety-wise a much better and safer operation and soon all the other surrounding towns were following suit.

In 1978 I went to work for my dad at the Highway Department full time. I had been working as a wingman during the winter seasons since 1972. Dad warned me I would not be treated any different than the rest of the crew. How true it was, it seemed like I got every “shit job” for the next 3 years. One of my “favorite” jobs was Sand Blasting and we did a lot of it! A clear face shield, hat and a paper paint mask for personal protection. Maintenance of the winter plows, wings and sanders were by far the worst. One day while sitting smack dab in the middle of a V box sander blasting away dad came up and looked at me and said “get out of there” and I did. He said, “there has to be a better way”. I did not question him a bit and got out.

A few days later I noticed some activity at the highway office. My dad’s friend, who happened to own a metal fabrication business, had been spending quite a bit of time with dad in his office. You would find them at the coffee shop in the morning and in the office during the day. Many of my dad’s original ideas were drawn on a napkin at the coffee shop. It seems they had come up with an idea that utilized a steel conveyor as a material spreader that utilized the dump body of a truck as the “hopper” for the material (sand or salt). The conveyor would be turned on using the hydraulic controls, just like any other sander. The materials would flow out the adjustable tailgate door and drop down to a spinner assembly just like any other sander. One of the wonderfully thought out and patentable features of this unique material spreader is that it could be allowed you to dump the load with the spreader unit in place. This feature would be the deal-breaker for other manufacturers as this concept was patented by my father in the US and Canada.

Unfortunately, in 1985 my dad was killed on the job and really never seen his idea come to full fruition. Upon my father’s death, I became the Highway Superintendent. Dan LaGasse (owner of LaGasse Works) and I had been friends for many years and when the time came to renew the manufacturing agreement I approached Dan with the Harder Dump Box Spreader. I believe that Dan and LaGasse Works have taken this wonderful machine to a completely new level and have made numerous upgrades and improvements such as:

  • Stainless Steel option
  • New Spinner Shroud
  • Grease Cylinders for chain tension
  • Stainless Steel Idler Shaft
  • New Gear Box
  • Air Lift Spinner Arm option
  • Lift Frame options
  • New Tail Gate Kits