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Traveling show

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by steveair, Dec 3, 2000.

  1. steveair

    steveair Senior Member
    Messages: 176

    Hello,

    Seeing shane's previous post on how the south is getting pounded and most likely very unprepared made we wonder if 'traveling with the snow' is viable business plan?

    I remember back in 93-94 when the south got the blizzard (think that was the right years) and how UNPREPARED they really were. I was on spring break in tallahasse FL and remember seeing snow even there (flurries), then we drove back to PA and couldn't believe how much of a disaster the area really was. People, at best, were equiped with garden tractors plowing Wal-mart size parking lots, and the state was NO where to even be seen, and when they were, they were using road graders, as it was all they had.

    Does the idea have value? I could see some substantial profit here.

    In theory, it may not be bad. Think of it like surfers who go from from one part of the country to another, 'searching for where the waves are'. In winter, the idea of travelling around isn't too bad anyways. Hek, most of us go on long vacations anyway, so why not make money on your vacation and head down south, up north, out west, etc. travelling where the snow is. Like in the movie twister, where they sit around waiting for the 'Big One' to touch down, and then drop shop and head out when they get the first report.

    Though this may be considered a silly idea, it seems like it does have some real merit. I could just stop at the store tonight, buy a vinyl lettering set, write 'snow plowing----my cell phone number" and throw the plow the back of my truck and be in NC by early evening.

    steveair
     
  2. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Steve, I'd love play the traveling plow hero. I'd be just a little worried about leaving my home area light on plow capacity if a storm veered up here while I was gone. The only other thing is that I think there is something about a radius of coverage on my insurance. I can drive anywhere but I may be limited to where I can work. Should not be a big deal to get some sort of rider to cover gypsy plowing though.
     
  3. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Yeah... but whattaya do if the storm fizzles out (like this one seems to be doing now) and you've drove all that way.....

    Plus, what Alan says would always be in the back of my mind, if we got slammed back home.

    Plus... in my case, we just have to wait a day for it to snow.....

    A few years ago a contractor from here went to Washington DC and plowed during a monster nor-easter and came back with a BUNDLE of cash.
     
  4. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    If your located in an area like I am that hasn't seen a flake as yet this doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. Iv'e had the plow on & off the truck a 1/2 dozen times or so just getting familiar with it. Iv'e got a small stock pile of salt & calcium, have run a 1/2 a tank of gas through my new honda blower, drive around doing estimates with the plow lights & pump on the truck, watch the weather channel as to conditions down south of me hoping for a change in my direction (it's only a few inches away on tv) and all's I got to do today is put up the Christmas lights & watch some football. I could be ready to leave in about 45 minutes..................
     
  5. steveair

    steveair Senior Member
    Messages: 176

    hello again,

    I have to say that the idea I mentioned may not be in the 'best' of business interests. What the idea is, is a notion to do something during the winter months, when times are slow, and not much else is going on.

    Much like teenagers dream of 'travelling the country', living day to day, seeing the entire country the day after they graduate high school, this idea falls under the same guidelines. Yes, for most of you, you already have something plenty to do in the winter, plowing your own accounts, tending towards 'winter maintenance', or spending time with your families.

    I think this idea is for those who are 'free spirited', to say the least. Of course, if you already have 100 contracts signed this winter, then why would you want to do such a thing. Or, for those with family, I would believe the idea of telling your wife your leaving today and will be back in march would probably not go over very well, to say the least.

    I guess this idea is for people like myself. I go to work everyday, and see 10 plow trucks, some brand new, just sitting there, as they have done all year. Being in NJ, yes, there is a very good chance that those trucks may NEVER even move this entire winter. We just ordered a brand new osh-kosh MPT, and it would not surprise me it that truck averages a mere 5hrs/year of use for the next 10 years.

    Its a shame, and like many others out there, who have already geared up 5-6 times this year to only wake up and have the weather man say, 'Again, the storm will stay east of us with the poossibility of a few flurries later today", the thought of plowing 12 inches of snow is a real eye opener.

    At best, I think the idea would be more of those "stories" that you could tell your kids later on in your life. Whether or not you would make any real money, I don't know, but it sure would be something to talk about to all the other contractors in your area who sat at home all winter waiting for the 'big' one.

    steveair

    [Edited by steveair on 12-03-2000 at 04:00 PM]
     
  6. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    I think with the right contacts you could make a go at it (not for me though).

    Last year there was an article in Tree Care Industry magazine about arborists traveling around the North following the storms to clean up after ice storms and such. As many co.'s cashed in as cashed "out". Takes a certain business saavy to make it work.
     
  7. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I very nearly went to VA during the Blizzard of '96. Nothing was coming our way and friends down there were buried. Reluctantly, I decided not to and the very next day my truck (the only one we had then) developed major fuel system trouble, to the tune of $900. It would have really been bad to have been on the road and got hit with that trouble. But I still think it would be fun to do and if conditions are right I just may try it some day, just for fun. Of course the prospect of being a "hero" and turning some decent cash is also rather alluring.
     
  8. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    I have pitched this idea to SIMA. What you have to do is establish a rateper hour for the DOT and local towns. There should be a national pool of equipment available in a central location, that can be relatively easily driven to the area that is impacted. Have qualified drivers and operators on call an fly to the staging area the day before the storm is to hit, and then drive to the effected area.
    As to local businesses, drive your own equip and charge what you like.
    I also have another idea, and that is for someone like John with his industry clout, pre negotiate with the larger chain stores for either hourly or per event pricing in any southern area. Next form a separate national snow removal service company, that also stages equipment in central locations. For the most part you only really need pusher boxes and a few larger plow blades. The equipment to put them on, are available all over the country. A pool of sander trucks would be needed, or actually just self contained v boxes(meaning no central hydro, just pony motors and electric controls) that can be dropped into local truck operators. Straight sand for the most would be adequate.
    With these people support during the event isnt really needed, if you are able to get them open with in 48-72 hrs after the storm is over you will be a hero.
    It would be much like the on call firefighters that volunteer to go out west during firefighting season, except that the operators would have to get paid.
    I know I have oversimplified things, but the idea does have merit.
    John A, what will some of these bigger chain stores pay to have them open with in 24-48hrs after a storm. My bet is alot of money.
    Dino
     
  9. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    We do something simlair with NY SNow Pros. Many times they will get slammed and we get only rain, so if we arent busy, we will drive the 2 hrs to Johns area, and help rotate drivers. The best part is that we get to sleep on a bed of magic salt, but this year I hear John has a magic -0 water bed, so that may be more comfortable.
    Dino
     
  10. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Being in NJ also, and having persevered through the last 3 years of non winters, I've considered this strongly. The only thing that has held me back was not having contacts in the other areas being slammed. I was too afraid to travel somewhere & end up wasting my time by not being able to hook up with the right people. I did travel 2.5 hours to South Jersey one time when a storm gave us 3 inches and dumped 12 inches down there. We blew through my stuff quick & then I hit the road. I grew up down there so I did know the largest excavating contractor in the area & I definitely had work lined up upon my arrival. But like John Allin has mentioned about different markets in previous posts, their rates were a lot lower than what I was used to. The real tragedy was they just don't get enough snow there to know how to plow it so its always a disaster in my home town when there's snow, let alone a foot. I ended up at a large mall & they had me on one side of the building and another truck on the other side to push snow from the building out about 200 feet. Then they used large loaders to move it from there (no pushers, hopefully they've heard of them by now). They came to find me for the mandatory coffee break about 3 hours later and the crew of 8 people were absolutely astounded by how far I'd gotten. They had no idea that that much snow could actually be moved that fast with a 7.5 plow, and believe me for the lower rate and this not being my account, I was not pushing my truck hard. Sorry about rambling, but places that don't get a lot of snow normally & get slammed can sure use experienced gypsy help. I'm considering heading to the lake effect machine when it kicks in again if nothing is coming this way. I'm sure I'd learn a lot from those guys & make a little money with equipment that would otherwise be sitting idle.
     
  11. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Give me a couple more years....
    I'm gettin there.....
     
  12. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I guess I am lucky enough to be far enough North, where most of the storms that come deliver snow. The only time I miss a storm is when they go out to sea.

    For me to pick up any storms that miss us, would require me to travel to mass. That and I would rather stay at the shop, and do the utility work. I still don't want to leave my areas uncovered by moving equipment south.

    However It sounds like some of you guys in Southern Newengland have a chance to make some extra $$.

    Geoff
     
  13. n y snow pros

    n y snow pros Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    Forget doing this in a couple years lets do it now.I like the idea so that not only towns can use us but also emergency management like FEMA can call us if a particular area is hit hard by a ice storm or snow storm like central Maine was 2 years ago.We were asked to go there by another contractor and it fell apart but i think it is a great idea.The lure of big bucks caught my interest.I will be happy to get this ball rolling.If any of you have an interest please fax to me the following
    company name
    address
    telephone and fax numbers
    contact person
    total equipment list which would be available to travel
    distance or rather states you are willing to travel too.

    when an event happens we can call the area effected and give them the contractors to contact which are willing to travel to them for assistance.At this point the town or area would just have your info and its up to them to contact you and up to you and effected area to come up with pricing.I am sure we can get this thing more precise but we have to start somwhere.
    Our telephone number is 845-485-4200 and our fax which would be better is 845-473-1912.
     
  14. steveair

    steveair Senior Member
    Messages: 176

    Hello,

    I think this is a great place to start. Obviously, we have a huge resource HERE to start something like this. I think, with a little work, some form of organization could be set up. In days, it sounds like we could have a crew of 20 guys/w trucks ready to roll.

    One idea I like, is that someone mentioned the insurance issue of how, each of us, has our own policy that in most cases limited to our particular area. I'm sure it would be possible, with enough participants, to get a "group" nation wide plan that everyone could sign onto and then be covered.

    Also, some other ideas would be networking with people in all parts of the country. Perhaps, we could locate plow dealers/parts dealers across the east coast that would 'sponsor' the company, as we would use there services when in their zones.

    Someone mentioned tree services doing work like this in disaster situations, and I think that would be a good role model. I know companies like Davey, Bartlett, etc. will send trucks half way across the world for emergencies. I'm sure they are not doing it as 'good samaritans', but have very good contracts signed before hand.

    One thing, will be payment/pricing. It may be very difficult to settle on rates that everyone will agree on. I think, that 'fair' pricing is not going to be easy to figure out. What one of us think is a good pay rate may be far from what others think. When going into a 'disaster' area, the everyone for his own idea will be prevailant. If one guy is out pushing driveways out for $50 a pop and the other is pushing snow in a parking lot for $50 an hour, I think there will be some major concerns on who is making more money.

    Also, if we are a company, what will happen if your truck breaks down. If you are somewhere and can't plow as part of the 'company', will you get paid then for your effort or go home empty handed with a broken plow hanging off the truck on long drive home. I think that everyone will have to be 'solo', or a sub to the company.

    steveair
     
  15. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Along with the tree companies responding to disasters, the utility companies are even more organized, plus they are union & have set rates. Geoff (maybe Digger too?) are probably familiar with this. They send convoys of trucks to help out in other areas. My dad is a lineman electrician so I have actually benefitted from this. Before CDL's became the rule of the land, I would drive trucks to usually hurricane areas, & then work as a "ground hand". (Basically stand around most of the time while the real work got done in the air) You get paid the going rate for your position for that particular local union. Everyone gets paid double time & everyone works 16 hours on 8 hours off until your sent home. So at the time (high school & college) I would pull in $36.00\hr or so for anywhere from 3 - 8 days. That was nice. And when you go to help out like that the host utility companies take care of you. Hotel rooms for everybody & only the best restaurants (if they have their power on yet). No sleeping on conference room floors like for snowplowers ;) I remember going to Mass. after hurricane Bob. Imported Maine Lobsters everyday for lunch & dinner. Mmmm... the good ole days. Anyway, we snowplowers could surely put together some kind of similar disaster response plan to organize help for those in need. I'm sure SIMA would probably be a good focal point for such an undertaking, and such a thing probably falls within the parameters of its mission.
     
  16. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I don't do much overhead work, except in the area of poll replacemnt.

    I got lucky for Ice Storm 98, we got all snow. Only we ran skelton plow crews on that storm. As soon as guys got out of plow trucks, they were doing utility work.

    During the storm, we replaced 100s of utility polls, fixed underground problems that developed, in adition to providing maintmance and repair to substations.

    Never have had to travel out of state. This is because the nature of the company.

    The companys that travel, are big service companys. What I do, is I am a sub for these big service companies. I do the jobs they don't want to do sometimes, or don't have time to. We deal with, Fiber, cable, phone, power, gas, and data. We also do utility projects for private industry.

    Geoff
     
  17. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Hey Geoff, you ever hear of Engineers Construction over here in Vermont? They are big into the utility work, virtually the same type of services as you do.
     
  18. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    The company sounds familiar, they may have made a trade mag. I think they are one of the bigger construction services in the North East.

    Geoff