Monday, November 3, 2014

Controlling The Chaos

We all want to grow our businesses.  And in the snow industry, one of the best ways to do this is by servicing large commercial accounts.  There is one snag: taking on complex commercial accounts requires snow and ice management professionals to plan more effectively, communicate consistently and make wise use of their equipment, materials, and people.  We spoke with three veteran snow and ice management professionals with years of experience servicing three types of commercial properties: lifestyle complexes, medical complexes, and manufacturing facilities.

Jason Dickey, Director of Operations
Schill Grounds Management
North Ridgeville, Ohio
Multi-use residental/retail/office "lifestyle" complex

The retail industry's trend for "lifestyle" complexes that blend retail, residential and commercial office space into one area is convenient for shoppers and residents, but can be a nightmare for snow contractors. Dickey and his team service a complex in suburban Cleveland that covers 75 acres and includes 800,000 sq.ft. of retail space, 500,000 sq.ft. of residential units, and 100,000 sq.ft. of office space.

From clean curb lines and zero tolerance for snow and ice on sidewalks to limitations on noise because of the residential units, Dickey and his crew have their work cut out for them.  Schill's crews vary starting times to best meet resident and worker needs, and start the clearing process from the center of the complex and work toward the outside - all part of a well-synchronized plan.  With activity running from early morning until late in the evening, Dickey and his crew have a tight window to get the job done.  Dickey says:
The most important thing for us on this account is to stick with the plan.  Every machine we have assigned to the facility has its own designated location and at the end of the day it has to look like it didn't snow at all.  We know which garages fill up the earliest and clear out the latest. To get the snow off the garages' top floors we use 1-ton trucks and have made as many as 150 trips to remove the snow out there.
Matt Boelman, Vice President
Team Perficut Industries
Des Moines, Iowa
Medical complex

Boelman says managing customer expectations is important with commercial accounts, especially medical facilities that see 24-hour, seven-day-a-week activity. Perficut's internal monitoring protocols produce reports every six hours during a snow event.  The reports are e-mailed to clients and allow them to provide feedback if there are any service issues or concerns that arise during the event.

When it comes to putting their snow and ice management plan into action, Boelman and Perficut divide their large commercial accounts into service quadrants and follow a three-tier priority scale.  First on the priority scale are areas requiring 24-hour access and frequently traversed walkways where pre-treatments of ice melting products are done to maintain the zero-tolerance requirement.  Next on the list are vehicle entry and exit points and structures with ramps (i.e. parking garages) and vehicle drop off areas.  Boelman says they continuously monitor these areas, as well as ground temperatures and the types of precipitation (ice, flakey snow, slush) involved with the event.  Third on the list are outlying areas and overflow parking lots that do not require 24-hour access, and can be left until the morning for an overnight snow event.

Removal plans are tailored to coincide with employee work schedules, not always an easy task with medical facilities that have staff constantly coming and going.  "We clear walkways an hour before shift changes to make sure we have an ice-free, slip-free environment," says Boelman.  "We always keep an eye on emergency room entrances and constantly service those areas."

Chris Marino, Owner
Xtreme Snow Pros
Mahwah, New Jersey
Manufacturing Facilities

For Chris Marino, tackling snow and ice events at commercial properties comes down to one thing - making sure you have the right equipment for the job.  When designing a plan to service large commercial properties, Marino recommends contractors prepare for the worst case scenario snow and ice event.  He is a strong believer in having your systems locked down and not only having the right equipment on-site but extra materials as well.  "We have our materials, including extra fuel, on site ready to go, " says Marino.  "We are ready to handle a snow or ice event of any length and for back-to-back events without having to take time to resupply.  Our clients don't want to hear the excuse that we have to go off property to refuel or back to the warehouse for more de-icing product."

All Xtreme Snow Pros' commercial account properties are divided into zones with a team commander in each zone to make certain nothing is missed and work is being completed to customer standards. When developing a plan for managing snow and ice for one of Northern New Jersey's numerous manufacturing and warehousing facilities, Marino turns to large tractors outfitted with a variety of blade types (box, angle, reverse angle) to match the job at hand.  The company also employs skid steers with snow buckets and containment plows to clear tight areas and walkways where foot and forklift traffic are a constant.  And Xtreme Snow Pros has all its machinery and trucks outfitted with GPS units and provides clients with real time access through a secure web portal so they can see - no matter where they are - what equipment is currently deployed at their facility.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Snow Magazine.  To read the full article, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment