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Heavy Snow Leads to Limited Availability of Salt in Parts of US and Canada

Discussion in 'Snow & Ice Management Association - SIMA' started by Michael J. Donovan, Feb 14, 2008.

  1. Michael J. Donovan

    Michael J. Donovan Head Moderator, Online Communities Staff Member
    Messages: 986

    Milwaukee, WI (Feb. 14, 2008) – The Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) has had several reports of limited availability of rock salt in parts of the Midwest, Northeast, and Canada. Due to above average amounts of snowfall this winter season, these areas are experiencing shortages in rock salt, a de-icing agent used to remove snow and ice from roads and parking lots.

    Private contractors, who remove snow and ice from parking lots, commercial businesses, and retail establishments, are finding it increasingly difficult to get salt in some areas as heavy winter weather continues. The availability of salt is decreasing quickly as more and more snow falls, causing both economic and safety issues for contractors and their customers. Some SIMA members reported having to buy salt from other states, greatly increasing the cost of it.

    Jim Monk, SIMA Board President, a Certified Snow Professional (CSP), and owner of Markham Property Services Limited in Markham, ON, says “Availability of salt for private snow contractors is extremely limited this season. As a contractor and business owner, the impact of limited salt availability occurring across North America will be our company’s biggest challenge this year.”

    With heavy winter storms still forecasted for these areas and winter far from over, the lack of salt can create dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians. “Salt shortages mean a lower level of service will be likely for most properties, resulting in more hazardous conditions,” says Monk, “We urge everyone to take the greatest care in driving and walking in these conditions, and we encourage property owners and managers to post signs and be extra vigilant this winter.”

    Brian Birch, SIMA’s Assistant Executive Director, says “SIMA members in the US and Canada fill a needed and vital role in keeping retail and commercial establishments open for business during harsh winter conditions. As the amount of available salt goes down, the chances of people slipping and injuring themselves rises dramatically.” People are urged to take caution while going out in heavy winter weather, as some areas are likely to be more slippery due to lack of salt.

    The Snow & Ice Management Association, Inc. (SIMA) is a trade association for those who manage snow and ice. SIMA ensures professionalism and safer communities by helping those who manage snow and ice master essential skills and practices. For more information on SIMA, visit www.sima.org.

    Ellen Kobach
    Certification Coordinator
    Snow & Ice Management Association, Inc.
    7670 N. Port Washington Road, Suite 105
    Milwaukee, WI 53217
    Phone: 414-375-1940
    Fax: 414-375-1945
  2. iceyman

    iceyman 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,521

    y dont they just come to NJ and take our supply...:redbounce
  3. Bruce'sEx

    Bruce'sEx Senior Member
    Messages: 873

    Yeah Lack of salt is really showing now.. Hoping for a warming or lack of snow period so they can get the supply up.. The city is taking all the rock salt, and leaving nothing for the private guys.
  4. 4evergreenlawns

    4evergreenlawns Senior Member
    Messages: 552

    Salt is available at a PRICE. A good company owner will keep ahead of the demand and PLAN AHEAD not tell its Clients they "encourage property owners and managers to post signs and be extra vigilant this winter.” instead that property owner should be looking for a service provider that has taken the needed measures to ensure they have the material on hand to carry out the term of the contract signed.

    Is this really the best advice the President of SIMA can offer?

    Just throw in the towel and let the Clients worry about it??

    I post this having been informed at the first signs of salt shortages in the Chicago market by my supplier. He has been sure to keep me informed of what the available supply is and would be in the days/weeks/months to come. YES, I took he advice and have been doing all I can to keep material on hand even when it means keeping my fleet loaded with salt to make room in my bins for more salt.

    I am currently waiting for a load to be delivered from CANADA to the lower 48. How is it that with a shortage in CANADA they can truck it to the lower 48??? I'll tell you, it is the root of ALL EVIL...... G R E E D ! ! ! ! Nothiing more. Suppliers in CANADA would rather sell their product to those of us in the lower 48 and see their own contract be left tell locals to "use extreme Caution" Maybe they should be posting sings that read, "If we were not so greedy we would still have salt here in Canada to prevent you from falling on your behind" However, I am thankful and I am willing to pay whatever I have to in order to be sure my client need not look elsewhere for the service I commited to provide.

    My cost has increased from $49.00 to $175.00 per ton. I have not passed one increase on to my cleints. With the winter we are having in the way of RECORD PROFITS it would be wrong to just start passing the $buck onto my clients. I have a contract that I sign that said I was going to provide a service. When it is all said and done at the end of the season I will total my salt usage and balance it against my total salt cost. I am will to bet anyone in the business for more than a bout a second knows the magrin on salt and knows very well that based on the volume alone a very reasonable margin will still be held as the highest salt usage for us in the Chicago market was in December and Jan. the increases did not take place until late Jan. meaning to date about 60% of my salt usage was at the lower rate and that makes up an increase of nearly double from last season.

    Really Mr. President, SIMA, CSP, is this the best you have to offer in the way of adivce to Snow Proffesionals?

    What about taking other measures??

    How about mixing salt with sand in markets using just rock salt?

    What about the availablity of chemical aditives to strech the prodcut further and keep it on target longer???

    What about tracking weather patterns and salting only when the condition will make a reduce amount of product more effective???

    Do any of these things come to mind???

    I mean I am no CSP but I am a company onwer and would like to stay in business and not lose my clients to the guy down the street that has come up with a way to service all the clients that have gotten advice you have given so they fired there current contractor and now he is service the account.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement......

    RON G.

    SIMASTAFF Sponsor
    from Midwest
    Messages: 51

    SIMA press release

    You make some excellent points! I think one of the great things about our industry and our members is the ability to adapt to difficult situations such as these. I have spoken with many of our members, and have heard a number of things that they are doing to try and manage the challenge of lack of salt this year, all similar to some of the things you propose, and this includes our Board President, who is a good contractor who runs a smart, professional service in Canada.

    The press release was more of a public awareness issue; we noticed that during this winter, many articles had been written about the effects of limited salt availability related to municipalities and governement agencies for roads and highways, but the challenges for private contractors have been ignored for the most part. Contractors who still have access to salt supplies, as you said, are paying almost double what they were 2 months ago, which isn't an ideal situation.

    Our goal was to foster some awareness, as most people out there don't give a second thought to who cleared the parking lot at the mall, their office building, or the gas station, as long as it's done before they get there!

    Thanks for the post, any other comments please let us know.

    Brian Birch
    Asst. Executive Director
  6. doh

    doh Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    Usually from Dec 1st-March 1st (this year Jan 1st) it stay's to cold for ice to work here, even gravel has blown right off the past week and a half.

    All of the lots in town are white ice covered. Whynot switch to sand and clean up in the spring?
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2008
  7. Bruce'sEx

    Bruce'sEx Senior Member
    Messages: 873

    Sand Just doesn't work as well. and I know here everyone wants bare pavement. so it's not the first choice to use.. We did arrange for sand/salt mix when we heard about the possible shortage. However our supplier got in a good stock at about $10 more a ton. So Overall we are fine.
  8. 4evergreenlawns

    4evergreenlawns Senior Member
    Messages: 552

    Sand is not the only options. Of course we all know that at lower temps and once there has been bonding dealing with Snow/Ice pack is a battle and a sand mix alone will not aid in the melting unless it was put down very early and being traveled upon.

    The next level of service would have to be liquid chemical treatment either as a add in to the salt maybe salt/sand mix OR a direct application.

    However, with all this in mind it bring me back to the point that as Snow Professionals we should understand how these things work and have a plan B, plan C in the works. NOT just give the impression we are freaking out at the first sign of a material shortage.

    We expect no less from out local goven'ts and why should our clients expect anything less from us IF we want to be considered professionals.

    I have spoken to several contractors that flat out told their clients SORRY there is no salt, when the real issue is they WILL NOT (can not afford to) pay the increase in material rates. Two things cause this, 1) they did not stock enough salt in advance when we were all told there was going to be a shortage BECUASE they did not have the cash flow, 2) they low balled the job at a rate that is so low now they can not recover any moeny for the work performed. These are not the actions of PROFESSIONAL's.

    RON G.
  9. mullis56

    mullis56 Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 824

    We did just got 800 tons delivered from New Jersey here in Indiana!
  10. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,032

    You have some good points, but I'm not sure why your getting so worked up. Sima simply did a press release, that's what I got from it anyway. I go out of my way to make sure my customers are looked after and I'm buying salt where ever I can because Cargill shut me off, as well as Canadian Salt. Even my seasonals, which include salt, will still get salt. You have to take the good with the bad in this buisness. Right now I'm cutting my salt at a 4 to 1 ratio with sand, to try and stretch my salt, I still have about 80 ton left but there is lots of winter left and I'm rationing. I havn't even contacted my customers because they will just go along with my decisions anyway. Good luck to everyone finding salt supplies.:drinkup:
  11. newlooklandscp

    newlooklandscp Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 473

    Im with Ron. Sima's press release seemed to just come across as giving up. Maybe that is not what it was meant to be but it could have been written better. I dont have a lot of space to store salt but I ordered it weeks in advance. Got it right on time. Yes I paid the bucks for it, $140.00, but still is it really worth it to pass it on to your customers because you didnt plan ahead? I havent, I just sent a letter in advance warning customers of the situation and told them not to worry. There will be no increase and you will be salted.

    Just my 2 cents.

  12. Tony Muto

    Tony Muto Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Salt from New Jersey

    Mullis56, where in NJ did you get your 800 tons? Can you direct me to a name/number? Thanks. Tony

    SIMASTAFF Sponsor
    from Midwest
    Messages: 51

    Press release

    Thanks everyone for the feedback, this is great. It is a challenge for us this year as there are portions of the country where salt is still readily available, while in other parts its very tough, and we've been hearing similar stories of people purchasing it from many states away and paying big bucks for it, including the trucking costs---not to mention bad weather causing further delays for the delivery. And each person we speak with has a different experience, as we can see at this forum---

    This is a learning process for as well, our goal is to try and make sure people understand the challenges you all face during a heavy season like this...please let us know of any other feedback anyone has, thanks!
  14. mullis56

    mullis56 Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 824

    I didn't get it personally myself.....the company I sub out 40+ trucks/equipment-boxes for, they purchased it. Thanks!
  15. doh

    doh Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    Bare pavement here is out of the question for 4 months out of the year, even on highways where the budjet is unlimited.

    If it is expected I guess, but I wish that our cilmate was like that. Sand Salt mix would work.

    SIMASTAFF Sponsor
    from Midwest
    Messages: 51

    Creative Salt Solutions

    We talked to some members and added a short article on salt solutions for this year, as well as planning for next...you can check it out here:


    Please let me know your thoughts, thanks!