After a disappointing – and for some snow and ice management companies, dismal – winter of 2015-2016, the current season hasn’t made life easier for many of the businesses that depend on the work.
Today, with a few regional exceptions, it appears 2016-2017 is going to be another low-snow season. Nonetheless, says Martin Tirado, chief executive of the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA), the contractors – and many independent subcontractors – in the business are hopeful the next six weeks or so will bring exceptional amounts of snow.
If that happens, Tirado said in an interview Thursday, most of SIMA’s members will have at least an average season. If not, this one will be as tough as the last.
As the trade association representing the industry, SIMA is deeply involved in continuing education for its members. Tirado referred to SIMA’s longtime emphasis on trying to balance one’s business between seasonal contracts and “event”-related revenue – an event, of course, being a major snow and/or ice storm.
For those companies with significant seasonal contract revenue, he said, a low-snow season causes less of a hit to total annual revenue. Yet, all snow and ice companies depend, too, on event-related income, Tirado said, so all are affected by seasons like 2015-2016 and, so far at least, this one.
The West Coast and Northwest, including the Portland area, have had exceptional snow this season, but Tirado said the United States’ principal snowbelt, from the Midwest to Northeast, has seen below-average snow in most areas. In Chicago, for instance, there was less than 1.25 inches of snow in January, Tirado said, the least since 1930.
Again, there have been exceptions, of course, as there were last season, when winter storm Jonas blanketed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This season, December snows were pretty good in parts of the Midwest, Tirado said.
Still, unless the next six weeks are punctuated by plenty of snow events, the numerous subcontractors who depend on them to make their annual budgets will be hurting, while companies with substantial contract revenue face relatively tough years as well. That’s particularly true, Tirado said, because this would be the second low-snow season in a row.