Forward Progress

Departments - Q&A

From another state adopting the association’s model legislation, to helming three major industry events and countess state-level activity, ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride recaps the high and lows of 2018 and provides some perspective on what can be expected in the year to come.

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October 19, 2018
Mike Zawacki

SNOW MAGAZINE: With Colorado adopting the ASCA’s model legislation into law, successfully carrying out association-driven events with Snow & Ice Show and Executive Summit, an impactful Legislative Day, as well as growing the ASCA’s ranks and influence, would you agree that 2018 has been a successful year?

KEVIN GILBRIDE: It’s been tremendously successful. We had our largest growth year ever, top attendance at ASCA events, gotten another law on the books, opened up more strategy on legislation, and hit all of our numbers financially. Without a doubt it raises the bar for us in 2019.

What do you rank as the major highlights for the ASCA and the industry?

In our business nothing outshines getting legislation passed – on either the state or federal level.. However, we have had other successes, as well. For example, in Illinois, we are starting to see more and more request for proposals (RFPs) coming out that are requesting proof that contractors are following the Industry Standards and asking for their ISO9001/SN9001 certification to participate in the bid process. This is a direct result of the ASCA model legislation being adopted into law in Illinois, and we expect that trend to increase throughout 2019.

Okay, on the flip side. Looking back at 2018, what would you categorize as disappointments, where the association may not have fully achieved its goals? And is there any one thing you’d have done differently to achieve more favorable results?

What really stuck in my craw are the times when the ASCA was able to get legislation introduced into states and then we were unable to get it moving forward in the states’ assemblies. We met on this in August and are implementing some innovate ideas that should help us move along this path more successfully and more quickly.

Legislative Day has really grown into an important event, not only for the ASCA, but for the professional snow and ice management industry. How do you see this event evolving in the coming year, and perhaps five years down the road?

Yes, Legislative Day was a real bright spot this year. Every year we learn a little more...get a little smarter … make more impactful decisions. The fact is we are building relationships with our elected representatives. Next year, I believe we will have even more credibility entering into those meetings. Currently, we have teams that go around and support each other in their individual state meetings. In the coming year, I’d prefer to see a small group of people from each state go together to only their state’s representatives and senators. This is more impactful for us and allows our message to remain close to home.

Legislative Day also marks a first-time collaboration with the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA). Was the outcome as you envisioned?

It was the outcome I envisioned. They brought to the table voters in the southern states, where we have no representation. Our elected officials meet with us, but take us much more seriously when we have a voter in the room. The bill we are supporting needs to be voted on by senators from all 50 states, so event though it may not snow in their state, it is still important to educate them. At the same time, for state representatives to learn about two industries facing nearly the same issues, then the more positive impact we can have on the legislation we’re supporting.

Are there other allied industry groups that you could see joining the ASCA in future Legislative Days?

Certainly, I could see that. I am not sure who they are right now, but yes, if it the right group we would welcome the collaboration.

This year, Colorado, along with Illinois, became another feather in the association’s state-level cap. Where do you have your sights set for 2019, and can we expect one or more general assemblies adopting the ASCA’s legislative initiative?

Yes, we will get this legislation passed in all of the critical snow states. Priorities have generally been set by our membership activity in each state. We have large memberships in Illinois and Colorado. We also have large membership participation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio. We have had serious pushes of this legislation in those six states, and we will continue to do that in 2019. As our membership becomes more significant in states like Connecticut, we will likely get more active in their state assemblies.

When you attend an industry event, such as an Executive Summit or a Legislative Day, it’s undeniable that the first-timers are blown away by the experience and how it impacts them both personally and professionally. I get the sense there are a lot of industry members who are curious about how to get involved in bringing about change, but they’re unsure what that first step should be. Any advice you can give on where or when to begin getting involved?

Call me.

You’ve served as the ASCA’s executive director for nearly a decade. How has your understanding of how an association serves an industry evolved over that time? And how has that altered the way you oversee the association and interact with the industry?

The day we launched the ASCA we were really just focused on the association’s four pillars — written Industry Standards, education, verification, and legislative change. Within those, the idea was to better manage risk in their organizations and better communicate with the outside world on behalf of these companies. However, in doing so, what we really are doing is helping the industry improved their processes and procedures and providing education that make companies better, more profitable. So, as we continue to expand as an organization, so do the services and education that we offer.

Rock salt, namely its availability this fall and fears of a devastating shortage in the event of an aggressive winter, has been top of mind with snow contractors. Have members reached out to you to get the association involved in some way with this issue on the industry’s behalf?

We have had many, many conversations on this rock salt topic and will continue to do so. Currently, a number of ASCA members working together on behalf of each other for solutions to this issue.

The association was founded as a reaction to unfair insurance rates and frivolous slip-and-fall claims. Please sum up where these stand as of today.

Those snow and ice managers who are involved with the ASCA’s insurance program are seeing some very nice results. Members have told me they are realizing up to 38 percent in insurance savings. Others a more modest 20 percent. More importantly, even when slip-and-fall claims come in they are being fought by the insurance companies. This has not always been the case and was a huge problem for our industry. So, we have made progress and will continue to fight this battle on all fronts.

Looking ahead five to 10 years, what snow and ice management issues do you envision the ASCA will need to get involved in and why?

We will continue to fight for the reduction of frivolous lawsuits and fair contract language. We have a few other legislative issues that we will tackle once we get these accomplished, but we will continue to be a voice with our legislatures for the industry even after we win these battles. We have worked extremely hard to build a relationship with our elected officials. We can’t let that go by the wayside. I don’t know if the issues down the line will be as large as the ones today, but even if simply communicate on everyday challenges, like taxes and health care, they need to know what issues are impacting us and small businesses, so we will make sure they know.

As soon as both of these events concluded, people wanted to know where the destinations will be in 2019. Can you give any hints as to where the Snow and Ice Show and Executive Summit will be held next year?

All I can say right now is that an announcement will be made very soon.

Lastly, as executive director you must settle an industry-wide debate. When referencing the association is it: A-S-C-A, where you say each individual letter; or is it pronounced “Aska?”

I can’t control how people refer to us in conversation. But from my perspective, as long as the association and its members are part of the conversation on professionalism, education and legislative change, then I feel we are doing our jobsss right and people can refer to us as A-S-C-A or ASKA .