1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

My worst plow event ever!

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by cutntrim, Feb 2, 2002.

  1. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    Hard to believe the number of things that went wrong for the storm we had here on thursday/friday.

    First of all was the timing - heavy, fast accumulating snow during the morning rush-hour. No one is on vacation this time of year so every single human in Burlington and Oakville is out in their cars going to work...traffic chaos.

    Next was the fact that the customers (on seasonal contracts) have felt we've been coasting along laughing all the way to the bank up 'til now. So, of course they all expected their lots to be mint throughout the day. Never had so many complaints for one storm ever. Probably 1 out of every 3 customers called with, "Where are you?", "Why haven't you cleaned all of my parking spots yet?", "One storm all year and you can't handle it!", "My lot is terrible, my customers are complaining!", "I pay you a lot of money and blah blah blah, yada yada yada..."

    Of course the complaints came from those people who have no clue as to what it's like to try and service 30 properties all at once when 6" of heavy wet snow collects in only a few hours and doesn't start until just before rush-hour on a weekday.

    Next was the weather itself - the aforementioned 6" + drifting was glued to the asphalt and heavy as hell. Hard on the heels of the snow came ice pellets, then several hours straight of freezing rain, then pouring rain, then fast dropping temps.

    I went to bed on Wednesday night content with my plan. Four trucks ready to roll, plows all on, gassed up, both salters on, bags loaded, 5 guys ready to go. Alarm was set for 4:00am since we'd go out and pre-salt some of the heavy traffic sites before the snow accumulated to avoid hardpack conditions. Then we'd break for breakfast, plow during the day, break for the afternoon rush, maybe catch a cat nap, then go out at night again and clean up. Great plan...shot to hell.

    Woke up at 6:29am in blind panic, alarm was set but not turned on! "****!!!!" Look outside, snow already on the ground and coming down hard. So much for pre-treating, morning rush has already started. Finally get rolling at 7:00am, no shower, no breakfast.

    That was the start to 34hrs straight plowing and salting...no breaks! Right off the bat, one of the salters broke down with the wiring harness torn from the motor. Now I'll have to do ALL the salting myself in my truck. Later came the accident. My dad in his truck sideswipes a lady's car at our new condo customer lot. It's the board president's car. Finally there was the fried heater core in the truck my brother-in-law was driving. He had it in 4x4 on the highway going 110km/hr with the blade on and salt in the bed. "What's that smell?" "Why is it smokey and stinky inside the truck?"

    Now we're down to two trucks and one salter. Through all this, the complaints keep coming in...and usually from those who still owe from the January 1st invoice!

    A few hours before I finally finished I just turned off my pager and stopped checking messages entirely.

    When I finally finished, I got home and my little 2-year-old ran into my arms smiling saying "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" and I smiled for the first time in 34hrs.
  2. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,031

    Ouch... mine wasn't that bad, but I can relate.

    This year, I'm only plowing the dealership I work at since my wife is pregnant and due any day now. Well, same deal, I tried getting to bed early Wednesday night, laid down at 9pm, but didn't fall asleep until after 11pm. I had set my alarm for 1am, and somehow managed to get up (after only 2-hours of sleep.)

    Got to the dealership at about 2am, there was about 4-inches on the ground. "Not too bad" I'm thinkin. So I start plowing, and get the front section pretty well cleaned up, and start heading for the back. Well... then it decides to REALLY start snowing. I seemed like we got another 6-inches or so in a matter of a few hours. The other guy that plows with me didn't get there until about 5am. So we're both scrambling to keep up.

    People start showing up at about 6:30am... and I hadn't gotten to the employee parking area yet. As I'm making a mad dash to clear some spots, the front is just getting trashed. I seemed like no matter how fast I plowed, I just couldn't keep up. So them my manager shows up, and I see him looking at me as I'm getting a pop. He asks hows it going, and what time I got there. I say 2am, and he asks "So what were you doing all this time?" I wanted to smack him. I could see how to everyone who just woke up and saw snow on the ground I would look like an idiot. Little did they all know... it had JUST stopped snowing when they were getting out of bed.

    18-hours of plowing there, on 2-hours of sleep, and I get a "So what were you doing all this time?" I guess this is a thankless job sometimes...
  3. copandplower

    copandplower Member
    Messages: 44

    Brother that sucked. Im just accross the lake from you. We had the exact same conditions 1 hr behind your time line. That snow was HEAVY. I was lucky, only had to put in 11 hrs and the equip. held up good. Sorry to hear about your bad luck.

    Take care.

    ADLAWNCUTTERS Senior Member
    Messages: 212

    sorry .man what a bad day . i've had days just like that. we had the same conditions here in buffalo. the snow was just like wet cement.when it snows late & traffic comes out we are all screwed & thats life. your route that takes 5 hours now takes 12 hours. you can't let it get you down.always remember whats important in life (family).when it snows late everyone wants to be done first.i tell my customers up front i'll get there when i can ,i can't fly over traffic.so remember this bad day so when your giving out prices next season you get what you want & make it worth your while.as for your break downs .i would get together with some other plowing friends and set a plan to back each orther up.good luck.;)
  5. 4 Saisons

    4 Saisons Senior Member
    Messages: 260

    This is bad, because we did'nt got a lot of snow this season people expect miracle from us. I hate this.

    We were supposed to get 6 to 10 inches and freezing rain, So we said, we gonna have a lot of work to do. Rent a John Deere 5400, add another snowblower operator, That way we were more than ready to deal with it. Woke up at 1am, start a 2am and wait....Guess what, we only received 2 inches and a lot of rain. Look like there is no way to make extra money this year around here. All this was expensive and i did'nt earn, even a penny, more money than usually.

    So the theory of being ready avoid a snowfall is really a truth. (all around here was a storm)
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2002
  6. 4 Saisons

    4 Saisons Senior Member
    Messages: 260

    oh BTW, this Tractor was a big piece of junk, a 1995 unit with less than 3500 hrs on it. I got it from my kubota dealers, asked for a RG520, but they had no plates to go on the street for it...grrr

    The previous owner attach a regular plow on is deere, but the worst his plow had NO trip spring or any "safety device". the result both arms were twisted, When i lift the bucket, the left side was at least 6" lower than the right side. And when i put strenght on the bucket, both arms attachment in front of the cab moves at least 3" inches in all direction and i even though that thing could break the cab windshield, it move so close.

    I hope this guy did a lot of money on plowing, because he probably lost a lot of money on is resale.

    Also being only 28 years old, i'm the hydrostatic generation, This 3 speed, 3 range clutch and stick transmission was my first time drivind a "tractorosurex" . Ah man this is definitively non-user friendly for residential backdragging.
  7. SCL

    SCL Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    Sorry to here about your debacle. Slim hit it on the head, in bed by 10 and up at 2. Snowing like all get out. Seemed like it was filling in as fast as I could push it. Let up around 5. Wet and slick, I was spinning wherever I went, even with 2500lbs in the back. Ended the day helping a friend who broke way too much stuff. You hit it, what a day:)
  8. bubble boy

    bubble boy Member
    Messages: 44

    cutntrim, i could feel your pain while reading your post. ya gotta love people. first few i plowed kept asking why we had not come yet. "well lady we were there four hours ago." never been called a liar by a customer until thurs.

    we did about 24 hours with a 2 hr. nap. then did several runs of cleaning up. even had to send a couple trucks out on sat. due to calls.

    in richmond hill for some reason they insist on re plowing streets. one street got plowed four times after the snow stopped, in 6 hours. and the customer there loves to complain.

    congrats on getting thru. had one last year, dodge went down. then chev plow started acting up. what should have been a 15 hr. event turned into 24 hr event.

    cant stesss how important having more than one plow truck is. to anyone who is solo, have a back up plan cause you will need it.

    we had two last year and i still didn't trust the situation. went to three this year and stretched the finances somewhat, but aren't taking any chances.

    if casey is reading this, how did your storm go? you dont give details in the other thread, was wondering what you attack plan was, and how the blowers did.
  9. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    Cutntrim - definitely a run of bad luck there but sounds like you kept with it and got things done.

    "Where are you?" "2 am? What were you doing all this time?" GGGRRRRRRRRrrrrrrr........................................ :mad: :mad: :mad: While it will never happen, I've always thought it would be fun to take those people and make them ride in the truck the entire time you're out working, and every time they doze off slam 'em in the side of the head with a rolled-up newspaper or similar tool and yell "STAY AWAKE!"

    Denis - your English is getting very good, and I love your description of "hydrostatic generation" and the "tractorsaurus rex" being non-user friendly! :D
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2002
  10. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,031


    That's pretty much what I wanted to tell him.

    "Get in the truck, we're going plowing so you can see how things go."

  11. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    Rob interesting idea.

    10 years ago the First Selectman used to drive one of the extra plow trucks in big storms. He saw this as a way to keep costs for his small town down.

    Recently when the new First Selectman was critisizing the town highway for their budget the director suggested she come for a ride. Well she lasted about half the night and then wanted out. Needless to say after that the highway got a lot more of what they asked for when it came to snow removal.

    People don't realize there is more to it then just pushing snow. Especially when it is part of a business.
  12. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Hey,, it's not ME this time!

    I'm not wishing anything bad on anyone here, but I am SO glad that it's not me posting about the snowstorm from hell (yet) this year.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2002

    DYNA PLOW Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    same thing here guys,went to sleep at 9pm thurs. fell asleep at 11pm up at 12;50 am, snowing and blowing like a bi..h. well i started at it, the 1st one i plowed at 1;15 i went back at 5;30 and there was at least another 4-5 on the ground. then my buddy finds me and asked if i could run over to a pair of nursing homes and plow them out as they had a shift change and people couldn't get out of the drive. to make it worse i looked at the accounts 2 days prior when we had no snow to get an idea of what he had, well i get there and i got nothing to judge the drives by cause it's blowing so damn hard...and he does not have anything marked,luckily i didn't hit anything or bust up my new equip. in the process. went back to finish my stuff then after that i helped him with 6 more of his accounts. needless to say he took to many this year. i only got one complaint we ended up with 8-9 on the ground and a lot of wind. i guess it's all or nothing this year.
    keep smiling
  14. Redhat

    Redhat Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    This being my first year plowing for hire. And my first post on PLOWSITE. I have learned from reading the posts here and on SIMA site since about july of last year.That I would not take on more clients then I could handle and keep up with,when we get the kind of nasty weather that we had the last few days.So I'am thankfull that all of you guys have showed me the light! Thank You All.Sure I'am not making the big money when it snows,but my clients are all happy
  15. Big Todd

    Big Todd Senior Member
    Messages: 126

    That's the idea there, redhat.

    Yup this must have been the "bad-luck storm" of the season. We told one of our subs to go out at 2 am. Well, he called at 4 and said that he just woke up and he wouldn't be able to get out until 6:30! Then, about 5:00 he calls to say that his wife rolled her car on the way in to work, and he didn't know when he was going to get out. Then rest of us were busy plowing on the other side of town and I finnally broke away and got to his first account at 9:00, the same time he was just pulling in. I helped him get a couple of important accounts done and left him to his own devices, and went back to get everything else finished.

    Meanwhile, earlier in the night, the plow stoped working on one of the trucks that was plowing with me at a LARGE apt complex. Found a bad cable between the battery and the solinoid. A quick trip to the 24hr AutoZone around the corner and 10 mins later, she was back in business.

    We went through everything twice and got done around 4 in the afternoon. At that ponit, we were all about three sheets to the wind, but my partner and the sub that was working with us were lookig especially green around the gills. We agreed to meet at 2am the next morning to go through and do any clean ups that needed to be done. Turns out that they both ended up sicker than dogs and I ended up going through about 3/4 of the route myself. Then, just when I think I'm done, I get a call from a church that had somehow gotten ahold of one of our cards asking could I go clear their lot.

    I thought I was never going to get home to bed. I logged almost 30 hours of plowing and you know what? I loved every minute of it!:D This is what we asked for, right.
  16. Remsen1

    Remsen1 Senior Member
    Messages: 188

    I know the feeling of thanklessness. Since I work full time, I plow my accounts very early in the morning. Sometimes they don't even know I was there and they question the number of times that I plowed and whether the plowing was necessary because they didn't see how much we got. Sometimes I wonder if I should be less efficient and let them trudge through it or get stuck in it before I come by, but then I think better of it.
  17. Snoworks

    Snoworks Senior Member
    Messages: 466


    Man reading this thread feels like therapy. I plow out of Gleview, and had the same problems. The weather guys called for 6" to 8" of total accumulation by Thursday afternoon. Yea right! I headed out at 1:30am on Thursday morning with all my vehicles, there was 4 to 5 inches on the ground. When 3:00AM hit it was snowing at a rate of 2" an hour. By 7:00AM, I had recieved 60 phone calls from customers, whats the problem, where are you, ETC. Really, really, bad day. I was trying to due a perfect job at everyone's property, due to the lack of snowfall this year. By 7:00AM I realized that it was a mistakee to due so. We feel so behind we could not keep up. Ended up getting home at 12:00 that nite, with no food, sleep or bath room breaks.

    Some times I wonder why I got in this business, its a thankless job thats for sure. Although, everthing looks a little more comical three or four days later.

    Keep plowing. CGB
  18. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    Sounds like I'm not the only one who had a crappy couple of days. I've been doing damage control since the storm and taking note of those who complained, and those who didn't. I'll be weeding out a couple of the problem customers for next season.

    The lady whose car my dad sideswiped said her first quote (from MAACO) was for $1200. Lovely. Called my insurance broker, they said that with our "no fault" insurance up here, that it's up to her to go through her ins. co. and they'll pay for repairs. But here's the kicker - I'll get marked down for an accident on my insurance and it could cost me $2000 over the next 4yrs. So my broker said if you know the person who you hit, it's often cheaper to pay out of pocket. So that's what I'll do. My brother-in-law (the one who fried one of my trucks) does body prep work for an auto paint shop. Maybe he can make up for the blown heater core incident, by repairing her door.

    The residual effects of my "worst plow event ever" are still with me. My neck has been killing me ever since I got out of the truck. I've got a swollen disk or something that's so damn painful, I had to spend all weekend lying down.

    Anyone else get the "neck-thing" after being in the truck for a million hours straight?
  19. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,222

    Well on the 31st and 1st of feb. I could not get to one apt . building to sand and the the onsite supper got nervouse becuase he could not get me and called the owner who sent someone else down.Then he said not to bother comming back any more.Just got the letter of termination and they stated that I did not provide coverage for them on those days.But they told me not to come back ,how can you figure it .Traffic was bad that day and it really was not that bad driving:confused: I asked if they wanted me to plow the 2" that we did get and the response was they are in a meeting and will let you know to in another words they don't want me to plow it response buy supper yes .But they would not mind me waiting untill that time untill they decided .:confused: Big companies have no brains or common sense .I still belive it's better to work for small operations rather than big ones unless your a big outfit.Like they say your either big or your small there is no inbetween.
  20. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    Cutntrim - I haven't logged that many hours in the saddle at one go yet - today would be the longest and it was only from 1:30 am to 11:30 am - but I've never had my neck bother me. Since I ride a motorcycle, I'm used to constantly looking around anyway as a matter of survival, perhaps that's a solution: Ride a 2-wheeler all summer for neck conditioning purposes! ;)

    Remsen1 - I also juggle plowing and a full-time job, fortunately I work for someone who's fairly flexible and so far this winter, work has been on the slow side which has made it easier to balance the two.

    An idea for customers that question whether you've been there or not: Throw a set of dual exhausts/glasspacks/stacks on like I have. Me 'ol truck rumbles away at idle/part throttle and barks nice & loud when you stand on it! :D Anyone who doesn't notice that creature growling up & down their driveway would have to be clinically dead............................
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2002