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Let It Snow! Why Last Year’s Winter Wonderland Will Create Extra Opportunities for Contractors this Year

Let It Snow! Why Last Year’s Winter Wonderland Will Create Extra Opportunities for Contractors this Year

You would think that people living in the northern part of the U.S. would be used to long winters and lots of snow, but this past winter there really seemed to be more than usual: seven major cities in the U.S. experienced more than 100 inches of snow last year! Maybe it was the subzero temperatures that made us all think it was the worst winter we had ever experienced. Maybe it was because the media focused on the hardest-hit cities and states, making it seem as if   the season would never end. For example, there was a lot of media coverage about Boston getting pummeled with snow; yet Boston wasn’t even among the top 3 cities that received the most snowfall. As well, the media rarely mentions cities like Syracuse, NY that get comparable levels of snow every winter. Why? Probably because the residents of Syracuse are used to a lot of snow and know how to handle it. It was just another winter for them!

The one thing that really was different about last winter was the inability of cities to effectively remove snow and keep the streets clear. In the aftermath of record snowfalls, –affected governments concluded that the affected states didn’t have sufficient snow removal resources or manpower to keep up with the abundant snowfall. The winter of 2014-2015 became a financial burden to some of these states: not only were schools closed for an extended period, but the inefficient snow removal practices undertaken by cities in these states unintentionally caused streets to close and businesses to lose money. State governments found themselves scrambling to come up with any possible solution to the problem.

What to Expect This Winter

As cities and states hope to not repeat the struggles of last winter, you can bet that this year there will be more contract opportunities for snow removal and related services. Last minute snow removal contracts are considerably more expensive than standard service contracts, and officials are hoping they won’t have to pay additional costs again this year. Being unprepared last year left many state and municipal officials scrambling to find contractors to help with snow removal, so in preparation for this winter vendors can expect an increase in local and state opportunities to source winter equipment, supplies, and related services. An increase in government solicitations for private contractors to clean up streets and sidewalks can also be expected. This may include snow shoveling contracts for municipal buildings and offices in some areas.

As a contractor in the snow removal business, you may be thinking that it is an unpredictable industry and that you never really know what the season will hold. But if the past few winters are any indication, the snow removal industry will continue to be a very lucrative business in the upcoming season. When contracting with the government, they will base your contract on an estimated total for the season, but with the extreme snowfall we experienced last winter your business may have the chance to double its profits this year. Ideally, this could make up for past seasons that did not experience a lot of snowfall.

Bid Opportunities to Look For

The opportunities that will be published by state and local governments this winter won’t only be available to vendors who remove snow. There will also be opportunities for businesses to provide materials that keep roads and pathways clear. When temperatures are particularly cold, extra salt is demanded by governments; normally, the cost of salt ranges from $80 to $100 a ton, but this past winter prices climbed as high as $160 a ton. Knowing this, vendors can expect governments to publish opportunities for providers to lock in salt and sand prices for the length of the season, to lower the chance of exceeding local and state budgets. Also, you may have noticed that more towns and cities used liquid ice melting agents last season. Similar opportunities will likely be published this year, allowing companies who sell standard rock salt and sand to expand their business and bid on these opportunities as well.

Heavy snow and cold temperatures also cause wear and tear on snow removal equipment; Vendors can expect solicitations for the purchase of new trucks, plows, bucket loaders, equipment and tools. Service contracts to repair and maintain existing state and local equipment for winter will surely be published as well. Parts dealers may also see increased opportunities for the purchase of replacement parts and maintenance-related products such as plow fluid.

To summarize, vendors can expect state and local governments to be proactive in establishing a snow removal strategy this winter, with the goal of keeping citizens safe and happy while avoiding unnecessary expenses.

Danielle Calamaras |

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