FENTON (WJRT) -
(06/11/14) - Two of the stars of the popular TV program Ice Roads Truckers were in Mid-Michigan, Wednesday, for a tour of a facility that makes some of the equipment they use.
One of them said a truck heater made in Fenton saved his life.
Webasto, among other things, makes supplemental heaters for trucks and buses. Two men who routinely drive in arctic conditions appreciate those products.
Until a couple of years ago, Vlad Pleskot and Hugh "Polar Bear" Rowland got along in subfreezing temperatures like every other trucker.
"We would start them in January and wouldn't shut them off 'til April," Pleskot said.
Then they installed Fenton-made Webasto engine pre-heaters and cab heaters. They save wear and tear on the main engine.
"You're saving money just having it in the truck. You're saving money because you're not burning fuel all the time," Rowland said.
When the main heater in his truck cab went out when the temperature was 56 below, Rowland was glad he had the Webasto heater.
"I turned that on and that kept me alive anyway. I wouldn't freeze to death and I drove all the way out," Rowland said.
The two Ice Road Truckers toured the Webasto facilities and met the company CEO.
"2.6 million truck drivers and owner/operators don't even know about the technology. So our major goal is teaming up with the Ice Road Truckers to increase awareness," said Dr. Rolf Haag, Webasto president and CEO.
"We have Webasto stickers on the trucks," Rowland said.
125 people work at the Fenton Webasto plant.
The Webasto distributor in Edmonton, Albert say he sells 3,500 supplemental heaters a year up there in the far north.