Another type of ammo: Fearless execution

May 9, 2015 -  By
salt-brine-(LM) Photo: LM Staff

Salt brine, shown here in storage tanks, is one liquid deicer option. Liquid calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are among others. Photo: LM Staff

This is part one of LM‘s “Another type of ammo” Snow + Ice Guide. Read part two, “Inclined to think ahead,” here.

He works neither in a tux nor with a martini, but Justin Gamester is, in fact, a “James Bond” in the snow removal industry—and he gives some of the credit to using liquid deicers.

The vice president of Piscataqua Landscaping & Tree Service, Eliot, Maine, received the “Shaken Not Stirred Award” at the inaugural New Hampshire Salt Symposium, held last fall in Windham, N.H. As the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says, the award honors a snow removal professional who is the James Bond of salt reduction, exemplifying a fearless, confident approach to this task.

Some snow removal contractors are still wary of using liquids deicers, but Gamester forged ahead five years ago when he introduced liquids to his now $9 million company.

“I’m not advocating eliminating rock salt, nor would I do it myself,” he says. “Just evaluate another tool. If you give it time and the attention it needs, I don’t think you’ll be afraid to change.”

Contractors turn to liquids for a wide range of reasons. For Piscataqua Landscaping, which is 25 percent snow removal, it was to stay ahead of the regulatory curve. Gamester wanted to be prepared if customers or regulators ever require the
company to limit salt use.

Through some trial and error, he now identifies salt brine as the company’s sole liquid of choice.

The solution is comprised of salt and water, and it’s created in-house with a brine maker. It’s applied by two designated crews as an anti-icing agent on parking lots or roadways before a snowstorm.

“We started off slow,” Gamester says. “We didn’t just go buy the brine maker. We started off using saddle tanks on our salt spreaders and would add liquid as it was necessary, coming out of the salter.”

Before that, Piscataqua Landscaping tested out other liquid deicers by the jug from vendors. First, was a liquid calcium chloride, but this proved too corrosive. Then, there was a magnesium chloride blend, but the price was too steep for the level of use. After that, Gamester started researching salt brine.

He sought out municipalities using the deicer and colleagues at the Snow & Ice Management Association for some direction on how to get started. From there, as with any new product, he had to assess it in action.

Right away Gamester observed how the brine, when used as an anti-icing agent, gives crews a “cleaner scrape” when plowing. He also noticed a cost savings because the brine reduced the amount of salt used.

Later, as the company relied more heavily on brine, Gamester weighed the costs associated with purchasing it by the jug versus the cost of a brine maker and opted for the latter. It wasn’t cheap, but he says it’s been worth it.

 

About the Author:

Former Associate Editor Sarah Pfledderer is a West Coast-based contributing editor for Landscape Management.

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