Sometimes it’s a good idea to look back at where things started to see how we got to where we are today, and the direction we need to head in the future. Back in 2011, Snow Magazine held its first conference, which would evolve into Executive Summit. At the time, attendance was largely Top 100 companies and industry suppliers seeking to build and strengthen their industry relationships. The high-level business conference lasted 1½ days and concluded with an open-forum discussion of the issues facing the industry. It ended with a conclusion that skyrocketing insurance costs was the industry’s most pressing issue. Coming in a close second was hold-harmless agreements, passing all a property owner’s liability onto the snow contractor.
While these were the issues the group discussed, they were symptoms of much bigger industry issues. Further discussion revealed a lack of standards, the huge disparity between professional contractors and simply operators, and companies that don’t have a handle on the properties they are contracted to service, were all unavoidable issues in need of resolution.
The ASCA was founded on four pillars: written Industry Standards; education for the individual on the standards and risk management; certification to ensure you are following the Industry Standards and have the systems in place to service the contracts you have; and positive legislative change.
ANSI approved the ASCA’s written Industry Standards in 2014. These standards detail the systems and documentation you must have in place to not only best operate, but also to best defend you and your customers in the event of a slip-and-fall lawsuit. Companies that follow the Industry Standards have proven that the standards do work. Standard followers can successfully defend themselves in a lawsuit 70% of the time. The industry average is only 35%.
Educationally, ASCA Certification (ASCA-C) has also proven a huge benefit to companies. Business owners tell us that getting their employees to buy into the Standards is much easier due to the educational support of this program. The ASCA-C process gives them a deeper understanding of the reasons they are require certain things, like documentation.
Certification through the ASCA’s SN9001 gives companies both an enhanced ability to operate, and prepares the company for future growth. This program ensures snow and ice management operations have the systems and processes in place to ensure service quality, as well as the systems in place to prepared for future growth.
Finally, positive legislative change has happened and continues to happen. The ASCA’s Model legislation has become law in Illinois, Colorado, and Connecticut. We continue to push for its passage in all snow states and we’re making considerable progress right now in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York. This legislation addresses hold-harmless agreements. In short, it disallows a property owner from passing their liability onto the snow contractor.
While individually these pillars address individual aspects of issues the industry faces, together, they are big solution to the overall challenges of our industry. I encourage all of you to get involved either at a grassroots level or at the association level. Together, we have to ability to improve and strength the environment in which we conduct business within our industry.