Business In The Time of Covid-19

Business In The Time of Covid-19

ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride checks quarantined in his home office and shares the popular topics he’s been addressing with the snow and ice management industry.

April 3, 2020

There has been a lot of information, data and feedback to take in and digest over the last few weeks from so many sources and outlets that it really boggles the mind. We’ve been inundated with so much data and insight on not only protecting ourselves, our workers and our loved ones, but to also securing and solidifying our businesses interests against the coronavirus (Covid-19).
I’ve made it my personal mandate during this time of crisis to not only be available, but to reach out to the professional snow and ice contractor community to address concerns, trade information, and at the very least, be a temporary diversion against the sheer insanity of this global tragedy.
Here are the three questions/concern I’ve been fielding this last week (in no particular order) and how I’ve been responding.
The Question of “Essential”
This was a front-burner topic last week that, admittedly, has cooled a bit for our industry as many of you have started to turn the page on Winter 2019-20 and have begun concentrating on your warm-season activities.
While it looks like winter if over, without a doubt commercial snow and ice management is an essential service, and even more so when it comes to supporting the missions of essential services like hospitals, medical facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores and other institutions deemed important. We’re grateful some states have specifically identified snow and ice management as an essential service. However, I can also see the logic of some states keeping the definition broad. For example, “building maintenance” is a popular label being used. As long as we can show that we can follow and abide by workplace guidelines for providing service during this outbreak, then I believe we’ll be fine and be allowed to go about our business.

Many of you are operating other essential services such as landscaping and power sweeping.  I encourage you to communicate with your crews about social distancing and the recommendations that are being implemented to continually sanitize their hands and equipment while on the job.   
I encourage any contractor who has received pushback on this to let me know. We may be able to call on our legislative allies in various snow states to remedy this situation.  I know that in Michigan, Rep. Tristen Cole has reached out to the Governor to reopen landscaping services.
Engaging Workers
Each workforce is more than just a supporting and executing elements of our businesses. For many of us they’re an extension of our families. So many contractors I speak to are focused on how to keep them active, engaged and on the payroll. While many of you have switched over to spring work, others are seeking ways to continue to educate and strengthen their workers.  I find face-to-face communication important and have been having Skype calls with my team so we can see each other while talking.  Zoom seems to be the popular new program many folks were not aware of prior to this situation.  I have seen many posts on social media with contractors that are having their team meeting through Zoom.  Touching base daily with your team is important.  

I encourage you to be open and honest with your teams on your expectations and how the situation is impacting your business.  Let them know what you are doing and how you are continuing to lead them.  Honesty is always the best policy and many ASCA members have shared how openness is the key to keeping their teams together.
I also encourage you to check out the podcast Mike Zawacki did earlier this week with Josh Ferguson.  Josh talks about the current situation and the questions he has been frequently fielding from his snow and ice management clients.  It can be found HERE on the Snow Magazine website.

Finally, for teams that are at home, I recommend pursing ASCA-C certification – either through initial certification or renewal. We have amassed six levels of curriculum based on the Industry Standards and address a variety of operational topics. Plus, it is online-based coursework that allows workers to progress at their own pace from the safety of their quarantined keyboards.  It’s a great way to educate your teams and pass some time while we are all looking for activities.
2020 Executive Summit
At this time, we are planning for this year’s Executive Summit. It’s scheduled for July 29-31 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Florida, and frankly, it’ll be the necessary respite we all will need. Of course, we will continue to monitor the situation and will let you know this changes.  This year’s agenda features great speakers, a variety of educational opportunities, unprecedented amount of networking, our annual Leadership Awards and Top 100 ceremony, and a few other surprises we cooking up. We’ll have a lot to be thankful for and celebrate at this year’s event. Registration is open and we’re looking forward to seeing you there.