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to salt or not to salt...?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by bish, Dec 29, 2005.

  1. bish

    bish Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 5

    Hello all!

    I am a new poster to this forum, but I have been "tinkering" in the snow-removal biz for about 3 or 4 seasons now on a very small scale (just clearing walks for restaurants, stores, and some residential areas).

    Having grown a little bored with the same old snow-blower and shovel routine, I am considering doing more. Primarily, I am wondering if simply adding salt-spreading service would be a good idea. I know that some of my customers would be interested, but I wonder if it would be worth the investment. I guess some specific questions would be:

    1. What does a quality spreader cost, and what features are important?

    2. It seems that having to store large quantities of salt during the season would be a bit of a pain, since I don't have a lot of spare room in my small barn out back. Do others find this to be a real problem, or am I just making a big deal out of it for nothing?

    3. Does the use of a salt spreader tend to accelerate corrosion on the vehicle it is attached to? Or is the crap they put down on the roads just as bad, or worse, than what I would be dealing with? I'm asking this as I would be using my daily driver (2000 Chevy Silverado 1500 4x4) for the job, and I'd like to delay the development of rust holes and a junked out underbody as long as possible.

    I could probably ask lots more questions, as I am really just beginning to consider salting as a possibility. Just thought someone here might have some good input. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

  2. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    I love spreading material, the profit margians are higher, if you pre-apply (before the storm) things clear up better, so clean up is faster an profits go up even more. Hitch mount salters are great in small areas and using bag material allows you good billing control. charge by the installed bag, write the customers name on the bags as you use them. Then count bags and send bills. remave salter and spray everything down with salt-a-way. Every snow flake may look differant but they make the same sound when they hit the ground...Ka-Ching$
  3. dlcs

    dlcs 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,160

    Not to highjack your thread but...


    What is salt-away and where do you get it?
  4. lawnmedic

    lawnmedic Senior Member
    Messages: 703

    1) Personally I have Snow Ex tailgate spreaders, cost between 950.00 and 1400.00

    2) I try to store enough for 2 storms at the shop. This early in the season I will just pickup another skid of salt and not use the stock I have.
    P.S. I only use 50 lb bags, 80s tend to kick your a**.

    3) The salt we spread does not damage my trucks, driving on the roads while all the city, county, and state trucks are spreading salt is hard on my trucks.
  5. kyle volz

    kyle volz Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 33

    Check out a SnowEx dealer near you. I have four salters and make great money with them. Three tailgate and a VPro series. For a small investment, you can make excellent profit margins. It's never too late to start making money. You can easily pay for one in a couple deicing or light snow events. You can use bagged material if you do not have storage capabilities and still make nice margins.
  6. bish

    bish Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 5

    Thanks for all the great info...

    basher -
    Yeah, I was figuring hitch mount is the way to for my needs. Generally speaking, I do fairly small jobs, so I don't require large quantities of material. And the hitch mount would also be less physical equipment to move when attaching/detaching. Charging by the bag as you describe also sounds like a great billing system. Thanks for the tip!

    dlcs -
    No problem, no offense taken. I'm also curious about "salt-away." Being new to this, I don't know much about the various products available, or which to use or stay away from.

    lawnmedic (& kyle volz) -
    I'll check into the Snow Ex spreaders. Any particular features that you like/dislike about them versus other brands? I totally get what you're saying about the 80# bags... I made the mistake of buying a truckload of them (water softener salt, but 80 pounds is 80 pounds) about a year ago. I'll never do THAT again! Live & learn I guess... Do you spread a particular kind of salt to avoid equipment damage, or is it because of the equipment or methods you use to spread it?

    Thanks again!
  7. golden arches

    golden arches Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    I agree on the SnowEx.. good equipment.

    On salt damage, any salt and most other ice prevention is going to cause you corrosion problems.

    Key to avoiding is 1) Start the season by washing and waxing the truck.

    2) POWER WASH the truck and spreader after each storm/use. Include spraying the under chassis, wheel wells and bed.

    2) I use Fluid Film on the exposed surfaces of my truck & spreader.. Cheap insurance.

    Unfortunately, you're going to have more damage from the highway salt/grime/junk that you drive through than you get from the spreader. Wash the rig regularly..
  8. lawnmedic

    lawnmedic Senior Member
    Messages: 703

    I used to run Meyer/Buyers tailgate spreaders(still have 1). Had a lot of problems with the exposed motor on the bottom. I was lucky to get 2 seasons out of a motor, taking special care of it.

    I can send a truck out with out any salt on board and it will come back just as covered as the truck spreading salt.

    Personally I like the Snow Ex 575. Holds 350 lbs of salt. One person can take it on and off by themselves. Can be mounted on any truck(swing away mount has to be adjusted between trucks). It is no fun when a driver brings back a truck with 5-600 lbs in the spreader.
  9. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174


    Where are you in Indiana? I'd be happy to fill you in on my take of salting and such. I'm in northwest Indiana near Gary.
  10. spiviter

    spiviter Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 74

    Salting is great money maker, we use the hitch mount 575 snowex on small jobs, but you cant open the tailgate to get a snowblower out without taking it off. I use a Agrifab hand spreader on sidewalks and small lots that are to hard to move in, Has the best opening for rock salt and hold 100 pounds. WeI buy 50# bags by the skid and pay 2.79 per bag In the Chicago area..
  11. bish

    bish Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 5

    Plow Meister -
    I live down south of you a ways, in Kokomo. I think you're a good 3 hours or so from me (mostly due to the fact that there's no good way to get from here to there). I bet you stay pretty busy during the season with plenty of Lake Effect snow coming down, eh?

    spiviter -
    You know, I hadn't really thought that salting would be that big of a money maker -- mostly just looking into it as an additional service to offer my customers -- but others have said the same thing, that it has very good profit potential. Now I'm even more excited!

    Also, thanks for pointing out the inability to load/unload a snowblower with a spreader attached. That would be a major concern, as my primary obligation is to clear snow-covered walkways. I was hoping that the mount would possibly allow the spreader to swing out or pivot or something, allowing a person to drop the tailgate. I guess that's not the case.

    The hand-held spreader you're talking about, is that just a drop spreader like one would use for fertilizer or grass seed? That might be the way to go, at least at first. After all, I'm not even sure how much my customers will demand salt service anyway.

  12. lawnmedic

    lawnmedic Senior Member
    Messages: 703

    As far as snow blowers. All trucks carry a single stage 2 stroke blower. Easy for one person to lift in and out of the truck by themselves. The small single stage blowers work the best for me. Easy to maneuver around small side walks, rubber scraper cleans better, and anything too big for the little blower gets plowed with the truck....
  13. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    Yea, it takes me abou t2 hours to get to Kokomo. Not too bad if you take I-65 to Rt. 26, or is it 52? Whatever. Good to know someone from out that way.

    I used to work for the Lowes out there from time to time. There's a really cool sports bar out there with volleyball courts on the roof. Man, the nights I spent there:drinkup: