Throwback Thursday: September 1997

January 9, 2014 -  By
Sept. 1997

Cover: Landscape Management

“It’s 30 degrees and the brutal winds blow and drift snow across the roadways, making many streets impassable.”

Sound familiar?

For a handful of you who are based in the Northeast and Midwest, this setting is probably far too familiar this week, thanks to the polar vortex that didn’t quite impact the entire nation, but certainly made its fair share of headlines. Then again, some of you may be totally complacent with that nasty gale.

Which brings me to the next lines of text in this article from the September 1997 issue of Landscape Management: “The only people who are likely to be on the road are in the business of snow removal. …It doesn’t matter that it’s 3 a.m. Sunday. There’s work to be done and it has to be done now.”

Titled “Snow removal: brisk, always profitable” by then Contributing Editor Sharon Conners, this article ran in LM’s Snow & Ice Removal Guide 17 years ago. I’m revisiting it for those who had to put their snow/ice removal services into high gear this week, reminding why it can be a worthwhile service and sharing how other professionals managed the grueling work back in the day, so to speak.

Rick Kier, owner of Proscapes in Jamesville, NY, offered tips for selecting your snow/ice removal team.

“It is very important that a contractor understand the requirement and the dedication that is involved,” he said. “All the contractors I know that are involved in snow ice management are people that understand they have to be on call 7 days per week, 24 hours a day.”

David Venditti, president of Clifton Property Services in Syracuse, NY, added it takes a “special breed of person” to plow snow, given its demands. “You almost have to write the winter off for personal and social activities.”

Conners provided equipment costs. In 1997, she reported, the price of a truck with a plow was $25,000 to $72,000, depending on the type, and regular rock salt ranged in price from $30 to $60 per ton.

The return on invest of those costs often lies in your pricing model, said Richard Lauger, owner of Lauger’s Good Lawn in Youngsville, Pa., who suggested to price by the hour or inches deep of snow.

“You can get three to four inches of snow to plow, but what happens when you get 16 inches of wet, heavy snow?” he said. “That has to be figured in the contract.”

Chris James, president of Chris James Landscaping in Midland Park, NJ, credited his stance on pricing for the up to $280,000 in revenue he saw from his snow/ice removal services in an average winter.

“I don’t believe in letting the industry set my pricing,” he said. “I set my own pricing on what I know it takes to be profitable.”












About the Author:

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

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