The reason why

The reason why

ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride explores the ASCA mission, and the progress made on various initiatives aimed to grow and strengthen professional snow and ice management contractors.

October 3, 2016
Association News Director's Column

Simon Sinek has perhaps one most powerful TED talks out there. It’s called The Power of Why! Click the link and take 20 minutes to watch it. It’s well worth your time.

As I travel the country giving speeches at various events, whether it is ASCA’s Snow Academy, other trade shows, or industry events, I review why the ASCA is doing what we are doing. I haven’t visited that topic here in quite some time…

Five years ago, when we started this journey, it was brought to my attention by some industry leaders that rising insurance costs were becoming a major problem in this industry. A problem so much, that there was soon going to be a major impact on Snow industry business across the country. Some of that impact is being seen today as we continue to address “the problem.”

However, in our research, we found that rising insurance rates were not the problem, yet they were a symptom of the problem. The problem was much deeper than that!

The problem has centered around:
•    Insurance carriers not understanding how to best insure snow and ice management companies.
•    Legislative bodies not knowing about the issues that we face in the snow industry
•    Property owners taking advantage of this industry in a variety of ways including hold harmless agreements and indemnification language.
•    The snow and ice management industry not doing an adequate job of representing itself to the above parties.

In meeting with insurance carriers (and we had dozens of meetings), we educated them on what to look for in a snow and ice management company to better insure this industry. Much of what we discussed were things like training of employees, preseason inspection reports, in-event documentation, etc. In every meeting, the insurance company would ask, “What are the industry standards?” I would review the items that we just discussed: training of employees, preseason inspection reports, in-event documentation, etc. Every carrier would than ask, “Where are these things written down?”

Of course they weren’t. So the first Pillar of the ASCA’s foundation became written Industry Standards (now accredited by the American Nationals Standards Institute.) The conversation then would turn to, if you develop written industry standards, how do we know that snow contractors will even read them? We answered that question by creating education to ensure that folks were educated on the Industry Standards. This education is an individual based certification identified as ASCA-C, is available online. It includes courses such as:
•    Education and Training to Meet Industry Standards   
•    Documentation to meet Industry Standards
•    Contract Language
•    Physical Conditions to look for on a Property

There are ten classes to earn your initial certification, which are designated as 101 level courses. The cost is $15 per course. The reason for this price point and having them on-line was to get as many folks certified as possible.

The second founding pillar of ASCA is education.

In working with the insurance industry, the conversation would then turn to more skepticism. When you are losing $2 for every $1 you bring in from a particular industry, there tends to be a lot of skepticism. Simply stated, they were concerned that even when education was supplied, would snow contractors implement these standards into their businesses. They challenged the ASCA to come up with a way to ensure that these standards were implemented into their businesses. We did through a quality management system, a combination of ISO 9001 and SN 9001 certification. This is quality management system that ensures that you have the processes and procedures in place to ensure service quality AND that you have implement the Industry Standards into your business.

The third pillar of ASCA was verification.

The first three pillars were about snow and ice management companies, “the industry”, doing those things to better represent themselves to the “outside world”.

Finally, we believed that if the industry could achieve the three pillars above, we could achieve the fourth pillar, which is positive legislative changed. Which, based on our results in Illinois, we have proven that theory correct.

Today, we have:
•    Written Industry Standards accredited by ANSI.
•    Education: More than 400 individuals that earned the ASCA-C.
•    Verification: ISO9001/SN9001 certified companies are more than twice as likely to have a slip and claim dismissed, and our insurance partners through Mills Insurance are recognizing this certification for discounted insurance rates.
•    Positive Legislative Change: Illinois has passed our legislation and we have legislation pending in another half dozen states, with more to come.