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SIMA wraps up in Montreal, heads to Cleveland in 2018

June 27, 2017 -  By

As half the U.S. survived a blistering heat wave last week, the Snow & Ice Association (SIMA) escaped to The Palais des congrès de Montréal June 20-23 to discuss the white stuff.

The Canadians welcomed SIMA’s 20th annual Snow & Ice Symposium with open arms. It was the first time the association’s trade show and educational seminar visited Canada; 51 percent of preregistrations were new attendees, with a large group coming from Canada, says Leslie Boomer, a SIMA staff member who serves as publisher of Snow Business magazine.

“(Recruiting Canadians) was definitely the goal,” she says. “It was a little risky (bringing the show to Canada), but it’s been a goal for a while. This was a goal accomplished.”

Preliminary numbers show attendance was about 1,800 people, which is about 10 percent down from last year’s show.

Although the focus was on snow, warm weather dominated many conversations—and not just because of the week’s news reports. Many industry members experienced back-to-back winters of light snowfall and warm weather. Snowfall was high in areas like California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Utah and ColoradoMeanwhile, areas like Cleveland, Chicago and Michigan hit historic lows.

“It was a second low snow year, not in all areas, though. There were definitely some of our membership areas that did get snow,” said Boomer, who didn’t feel like it it affected turnout. “We saw great attendance with exhibitors and attendees, so it didn’t seem to hurt us. The attitude is still very positive toward the niche market.”

Educational highlights

SIMA’s Symposium is a trade show, but its focus is heavy on the educational portion of the attendee experience. It offered more than 20 sessions in all, including keynotes and snack and chats, which are round-table discussions on various topics.

The keynote speakers were Donald Cooper, business management speaker; Marc Gordon, customer experience and marketing expert; and Robyn Benincasa, an adventure racer, triathlete and motivational speaker. Benincasa’s presentation discussed her “8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy,” which include:

  • Total commitment;
  • Empathy and awareness;
  • Adversity management;
  • Mutual respect;
  • “We” thinking;
  • Ownership of the project;
  • Relinquishment of ego; and
  • Kinetic leadership.

The relinquishment of ego section of her presentation didn’t only discuss ego in terms of being a braggart or overconfident. Benincasa also sought to abolish the idea that the business owner must be the person who does everything all the time. Although the owner may believe he or she is leading by example, sometimes he or she is taking away from the development of the employees by not allowing them to participate in leading the company. She suggests saying “yes” next time an employee asks to help.

“Accepting help is actually a gift to the helper,” she says.

The educational sessions included topics like “Why isn’t my salesperson selling more?” from Kirk Armstrong, Armstrong Sales Coaching; product trends like snow melters and liquid ice control; and training strategies.

One highlight was Mark Bradley’s session. Bradley is CEO of software company LMN and TBG Environmental. The session focused on the six deadly mistakes of job costing, but really, it stressed the importance of tracking metrics.

“If you’re not keeping score, it shows your staff that the score doesn’t matter,” Bradley said.

He also stressed that job costing is best tackled with the snowball approach—little by little picking up speed and width.

“It’s easier to start simple and add detail along the way instead of starting too detailed and then trying to scale back,” he says.

Of course, SIMA’s Symposium was also about the trade show. Many manufacturers said they were holding off on releasing new products until the GIE+EXPO in October. Some had new products, but others used the opportunity to connect with their Canadian customers or find new ones.

Kage, a Wisconsin-based snow plow system manufacturer, showed off its 2017 line with a huge display. The line includes its Shadow Blade, designed with a three-point rear attachment; the SnowStorm system, which features hydro-lock brackets; and the Snow Kage Box, which switches the plow from a box design to a blade design automatically.

Ariens shared a soft release of a new single-unit snow blower, which features an easy-load design (see video below) and 10 percent lower weight than older models. Reinforced paddles and a reinforced housing gear protects the machine’s structural integrity, says Director of Business Development J.W. Washington, and the machine features easy start and stop.

“A lot of units out there require two guys (to lift and load),” Washington says. “You’ll have to worry about operator fatigue, back problems, workers comp. Now, you’re able to slide it in, quick and easy.”


Next year, the 21st annual event will head back to the Midwest.

“Cleveland is going to be a very positive surprise for some people who don’t know the town, like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, great food and so much more,” says Boomer, who resides in the Cleveland area. “Plus, it’s a very accessible location, smack dab in middle of things, so even our Canadians, who were new to the show this year because we were here, many of them are saying, ‘That’s right over the border. I’m coming to Cleveland.'”

Although it’s looking forward to Cleveland, overall, Canada was good to SIMA,

“We’re very happy this year,” she says.  “As an association, I think SIMA feels like this was a success, and we’ll probably be back.”

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About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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