By Brenda Erdahl
Here in Minnesota snowplows are a mailbox’s worst enemy, in particular, the wall of snow that is pushed up against their wooden frame by that massive medal blade, bending, twisting or otherwise disfiguring their shape.
It’s a problem that has frustrated the Holland family for years on their farm just off Highway 55 between Buffalo and Maple Lake. Howard Holland was the first to devise a solution, a pivoting mailbox that swung out of the way when the pressure of all that snow was applied, but it was crude and difficult to make. A generation later, his 64-year-old son has devised a newer rendition of that original model, one that is patentable and sellable.
Rodney Holland is the creator of the PlowProof support arm, a unique, strong and stable arm to support a mailbox that rotates 180 degrees away from traffic. When hit by a wall of snow the mailbox is designed to swing out of the way like a weather vane, keeping the mailbox intact.
“Mine is easier to make, looks better, has a place for reflective artwork, and a tube for newspapers,” Holland said.
The Holland family has lived in Wright County for four generations. Rodney Holland’s grandfather served in WWI and his mom was a nurse during WWII, so it was no surprise that his life took him down a similar path. He avoided Vietnam as part of the last draft round but joined the army anyway. During his lengthy military career, he climbed through the ranks from private to Lieutenant Colonel; has been in 14 different countries “and only two of them shot at me,” he said. In 2006 he went to Iraq where he served as a construction manager. He was in charge of three battalions whose job it was to make sure the troops had a place to sleep. It was there that he started pursuing an online masters-degree in business from DeVry University. When he returned to the states he enrolled in a marketing course where he was required to put together a marketing plan.
“I started to think of this pivoting mailbox,” he said.
He wanted to make something similar to his dad’s model that was easier to build and more attractive. He also wanted to include a tube for newspapers and a place for reflective artwork.
For the artwork, he enlisted the help of some local artists who came up with 130 different designs ranging from military and farming, to cat lover themes. The illustration is printed on the same type of reflective vinyl used for highway signs and license plates and can be seen 1,000 feet away by a car’s headlights.
Eventually Holland was able to patent his design and get a website going which is where he has sold most of his PlowProof support arms. The finished product comes fully assembled with the artwork of your choice and fits most standard mailboxes. In addition to being plow proof, the swinging arm provides a safer way to get your mail if you live on a busy road, because it swings toward you, so you don’t have to step into traffic, he said.
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