One thing is certain, there’s a fair amount of uncertainty in snow and ice. And this year was no different. Successful snow contractors are pros at managing uncertainty, approaching each season educated and knowledgeable about their craft to best prepare for any scenario. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the issues that directly impact your ops.
Uncertainty with the salt supply continues heading into the Winter 2021-22. On the East Coast, which experienced the brunt of winter’s fury, end-of-season supplies were low. This normally leads to a rush on tonnage for the next season along with increased pricing. And while this is simple supply-and-demand, other factors weigh on supply, as well.
One salt mine is closing and the Army Corp of Engineer’s ongoing lock maintenance program up the Mississippi and into the Illinois waterway will continue to challenged supply. In addition, the impact of the ship Everlast being stuck and delaying traffic flow through the Suez Canal is having a significant impact on shipping prices. How this impacts salt pricing is still unknown, but it is something to file away for when you speak to your suppliers.
If the government passes the multi trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, then this will undoubtedly impact labor availability. This proposed plan is intended to create well-paying hourly jobs that would be attractive to the same labor pool our industry pulls from for both the winter and green seasons. It’s an issue to keep your eyes on. Labor has always been a challenge for the snow and ice management industry. If there is an influx of higher paying hourly jobs, then the ripple effect will have a negative short- and long-term impact on our labor supply.
Finally, the ongoing pandemic will likely squeeze your customers’ budgets again for the remainder of 2021. Like with Winter 2020-21, you are likely to see certain customers consider limiting services or simply seeking better deals. If the numbers work in your favor, then this is OK. However, make sure you are covering yourself on the liability side. And if you’re looking to upgrade your customer base, then replace those customers who provide no real value with properties where your teams and equipment are maximizing earning potential.
Our industry is based on uncertainty and we go into each winter blind to the actual business conditions and seasonal intensity that will manifest over the next five months. I know we all would rather be making money from November through March instead of working on our golf games. So, make educated and informed contingency plans now to prepare you and your crews for the coming season.
In other news, you’ve probably heard that 2021 Executive Summit is returning as a face-to-face event Aug. 2-4 at the Omni Amelia Island Resort in Florida.
This is an ideal site for our style of conference – great education and ample networking opportunities – that I remained convicted we needed to be there this year.
You can read more details on the following pages, however, I would like to strongly encourage you to attend this year’s event. Despite the great educational programing and leadership events, this year’s summit provides an opportunity to mentally disengage from the mess of the last year and connect (or commiserate) with your industry colleagues and create friendships that will last a lifetime. See you in Florida!.