Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Best Practices course delivers free equipment, operations training

'This growing body of resources currently includes 15 documents available exclusively to SIMA members as part of our commitment to deliver outstanding value.'
Even during the season, it doesn’t hurt to review best practices to keep your minds fresh for the next event. SIMA’s Operational Equipment & Safety Best Practices course can help members keep training and safety front and center.
This growing body of resources currently includes 15 documents available exclusively to SIMA members as part of our commitment to deliver outstanding value.
These checklists and quick reference cards can be downloaded, printed and used as part of a comprehensive training program.
Looking toward 2018, our goal is to continue to add resources to this course, allowing our member companies access to free training and topics that will help ensure safer, more efficient operations. 
Current resources available for download:
  • Checklists
    • Pre-trip plow and spreader safety inspections
    • Snow site engineering planning
    • Snow vehicle hazards
    • Pre-storm equipment review
    • Preseason risk assessment
    • Snow kit contents
  • Quick Cards
    • Fuel storage for cold weather
    • Safe operations of heavy equipment in cold weather
    • PPE for snow and ice management
    • Snow shoveling safety
    • Snow blower hazards
    • Equipment maintenance
  • Resources
    • Salt brine equipment basics
    • Incident report template (English and Spanish)
    • Safety best practices
    • Snow plow pump troubleshooting
If you have a topic for consideration, email Brian Birch at The course is available for download here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SIMA adds DVDs to training video series


Remember 2001? It was a year of many exciting things...Harry Potter, the Segway, the iPod, *NSYNC. And don’t forget...SIMA launched its first training video: Basic Snowplowing Techniques. After the initial success of that video, SIMA produced six more, and they became the de facto industry standard for basic and refresher snow training. But the snow industry has grown and changed. Our videos began to have a certain retro feel and needed a revamp. Instead of trying to redo them one by one over a long period of time, SIMA completely redesigned them all at once. The new SIMA Training Video Series, which includes six videos, was launched in late summer 2017, and includes:
  • Snowplowing Safety & Preparation: This video is designed to introduce snowplow operators to basic snowplowing principles and general techniques, including preseason preparations and checks, transporting the plow and general plowing tips and techniques.
  • Essential Snowplowing Techniques: This video concentrates on commercial snow removal operations. It assumes the operator has received basic training, knows safety issues and has experience in clearing driveways and other properties. It includes equipment and safety, techniques and obstacles, and plow scenarios.
  • NEW! Snow Site Engineering and Planning: This video walks through the process of planning and implementing a site engineering strategy; to increase safety and efficiency; and to identify key obstacles, priorities and hazards prior to the snow season.
  • Containment Snow Plows and Pushers: This video provides practical and strategic operations, including benefits of using a containment plow, operator safety and troubleshooting on-site issues.
  • Sidewalk Clearing of Snow and Ice: This video highlights key safety issues and techniques needed to use shovels and snow blowers. It includes guidelines for dressing appropriately, health and wellness tips, shoveling techniques, and snowblower safety and techniques.
  • Skid Steer Loaders and Compact Equipment: This video covers a range of topics, including site application, attachments, techniques, safety, training and preventive maintenance. Other topics include equipment advantages, common mistakes and tips and bidding help.
Initially, SIMA planned to only offer the videos via streaming in the SIMA Training Center since it is the best, most cost-effective way for us to distribute these training tools. However, after much discussion and feedback from our members, we decided to also provide DVDs. We ran our first press of DVDs (all six videos for one low price) in October, and they are available for purchase now.

Training video series at-a-glance
  • Number of training videos 6
  • All new video footage, including use of drones
  • Residential and commercial items addressed
  • Available streaming in the SIMA Training Center, on DVD or both
  • Includes simple quizzes for training documentation
  • Most videos are available in Spanish
  • Average length of each video 30 minutes 
To learn more about each video, to see a preview or to purchase, visit

Monday, December 4, 2017

Workforce work to be done

'Our goal is to keep the conversation going and to help our members make progress in the area of workforce development and retention.'

By Brian Birch, CAE
Here’s what we know about our industry’s workforce: Finding and retaining good employees remains the No. 1 challenge. That’s the official word based on feedback SIMA was able to collect prior to the September 2017 Season Opener. 

Of course, this issue is bigger than just the snow industry; most service-related industries are struggling. As one of thousands of trade associations, SIMA is wrestling with the true impact our association can have on such a widespread issue. We felt the Season Opener, with its focus on recruitment and talent management, was a good place to start.

Prior to the event, SIMA deployed a simple survey designed to solicit feedback in two broad areas:
  1. Labor recruitment. How do you recruit labor for snow, and what technologies/tools are useful in that process?
  2. Careers. What benefits and areas should be considered in an effort to keep long-term employees, and which of these are the most crucial?
Attendees were also asked to provide any organizational charts, employee pay grades/levels (structure, not compensation) and role descriptions for snow-specific work. After repeated attempts, only one attendee shared that information. This was insightful, since it showed us the challenge is twofold:
  1. Many companies struggle with organizing and keeping updated organizational charts, pay grade standards and even role descriptions; 
  2. Our members consider this proprietary information and hence are reluctant to share.
During the Season Opener event, more than 50 professionals engaged in peer-to-peer roundtables on labor and careers, sharing of real-world scenarios that have worked and brainstorming ideas for improved attraction and retention of employees. We consolidated the data collected into a final report, which was emailed to all attendees in early October. If you were unable to attend and would like a copy, email

Potential workforce initiatives
Our goal is to keep the conversation going and to help our members make progress in the area of workforce development and retention. Here are some possible paths SIMA could take. We would love your input. 
  1. Snow Compensation & Benefits Report: Many industries provide data-driven averages of compensation levels (salaried and non-salaried), as well as benefits (health care, retirement, etc.) for various job roles. SIMA could work with a third-party entity that specializes in this research to conduct such a study every two to three years.
  2. Snow Organizational Charts and Roles/Responsibilities Library: Little research has been done on roles and responsibilities in the industry. SIMA could solicit submissions of organizational charts and roles/responsibilities to build a library that more definitively identifies positions essential to the success of a snow and ice management company. All reported information would be analyzed to find common types of structures, and all reported information would be anonymous. This could be compiled into a report or searchable database for SIMA members. The project could also take the form of a written report with a series of examples, coupled with policies/tips and templates for employee reviews and compensation discussions. 
  3. Best Practices in Snow Recruitment: SIMA could work with the Best Practices & Standards Committee to select best-in-class snow companies to create a standardized set of recommendations/policies for labor recruitment, including sources, technologies, drug/background check policies/procedures, and employee referral program policies and administration.
  4. Snow Industry Help Wanted/Jobs Board: SIMA could implement an online tool that enables snow professionals to post help wanted/job openings, including connecting contractors to subcontractors. SIMA could partner with industry-related organizations in this area.
We invite you to share your input about which options, if any, would be helpful to you, by emailing

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A year of change and progress

A year ago, SIMA launched a new vision for membership for our customers. We worked hard to listen to the market and to provide more tangible value members joining and renewing their membership each year.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the revamped membership structure, it’s a good time to update our progress and outline where we hope to go in the future.
We’ve made good inroads toward building resources that add to the value of your SIMA membership, and we remain focused on continuing to do so in 2017-18.

Adding membership value with tools and savings

Training Commitment: $200 annual training commitment for each member organization for use toward ASM or CSP training. 
Results: As of 9/1/2017, over 40 member companies have used this commitment.

Business Operations Tools: SIMA added the Advanced Contract Clauses, created and vetted by a task force of industry stakeholders, as a downloadable document. Along with the template contract, these clauses can help insulate companies from unique situations that snow and ice industry professionals face.
Results: Over 700 people have downloaded contracts/forms since the new launch.

Training: Five members-only courses were created to help your business with key challenges and annual individualized safety training.
Results: By the end of the year, we estimate over 500 people will have completed one or more of these courses.

Looking ahead to 2018
We are looking to invest in technologies to help empower members and suppliers to connect. We will seek to build a more direct connection between our members and their benefits. We will continue to deliver resources, training, and marketing opportunities for snow professionals. We value your input on how we can make SIMA membership a game-changing investment for you.

If you have suggestions on how we can deliver additional value, please email Brian Birch at

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Snow Safety Week 2017 Review

Last week, SIMA and sponsors Caterpillar, BOSS Snowplow, and RAM Trucks produced the sixth annual Snow Safety Week. With 2 webinars, numerous articles, and several Facebook live videos, Snow Safety Week was successful in providing quality, helpful information on a variety of safety-related topics.

As we move into the winter season, safety information is timely and very important for all snow professionals to remember. View some of the highlights from Snow Safety Week below:

Did you miss a webinar? View the recordings for free! 

Dear Snow Contractor: You are more at risk for slipping and falling than anyone else! View now
SIMA recently surveyed the industry to understand what the most common types of accidents that result in injuries, lost work time, and ultimately workman’s comp claims are. Over 50% of injuries reported were the result of slipping and falling, the very thing the industry is out there trying to help reduce! Walk through the survey results and a job safety analysis of several hazardous scenarios.

Managing the threat of workplace conflict
View now

What happens when two employees don’t get along, and things escalate toward emotional or physical violence? Taking proactive steps in policy, and coaching yourself in dealing with conflict in general, can go a long way to keeping all your employees safe.

Check out some of the highlights from our Snow Safety Week articles: 
Check out SIMA's Facebook event page to see video interviews with SIMA members as they discuss safety at their companies.

Visit here to see all the articles from last week, and thank you to everyone who participated and helped create another successful Snow Safety Week!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ready to rock this winter!

New SIMA board chair shares vision for the coming year

By Doug Knott, CSP
Snow season is nearly upon us! I’m Doug Knott, and I am your board chair until October 2018. I have been a SIMA member since 2009, a membership that has helped my professional growth significantly. I’ve also made several good friends along the way. I encourage everyone to get active — at least out of self-interest — so you, too, can grow professionally, make some lasting friendships and help make a positive impact upon our industry.

My wife Michelle and I own and run Knott’s Land Care, LLC in Amherst, NH. Our children have grown up with our company and can probably tell you more about it than me since they have always had to listen to business talk at the dinner table. 

I believe in giving back to and being an active participant in my local community. I am an active Rotarian and a member of my local planning board. My family is most important to me, but I also enjoy attempting to golf (I even played in a 100 Holes of Golf in One Day charity event held by my Rotary Club) and playing electric bass in a loose definition of a band. Maybe they will let me play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during next summer’s Snow & Ice Symposium in Cleveland!

Goals for 2017-18
As with most of you, my experience in the snow industry has been rewarding and challenging. The industry is always going to have challenges, but together, we can make it a better place to live and work. Here’s what we will do at SIMA headquarters to move the needle in the next year:

Building a workforce: Our members consistently report that finding and retaining good employees is challenging. We are hot off the heels of our first Season Opener event that focused on this topic. Watch for a new set of recommendations and best practices for recruiting and retaining key snow employees soon. We are also continuously helping more professionals earn their Advanced Snow Manager and Certified Snow Professional designations, a key step in professionalism and achievement for anyone serious about the snow industry.

Rocking in the Free World: I’m an avid music fan, and I can’t wait to go to the 21st annual Snow & Ice Symposium in Cleveland in June 2018. It’s a chance to meet great friends, take advantage of the best education the industry has to offer and experience a championship city! Look for some new educational ideas and workshops from SIMA this year.

Best Practices blueprint: SIMA stakeholders have spent hours developing our Glossary of Terms and best practices guidelines. The association is focused on helping all parties, from contractors to facilities managers, adopt and use these guides to build that next layer of quality into the industry. We really do take our mission seriously: Empowering snow and ice management professionals for success. 

Giving thanks
I would also like to mention Immediate Past Board Chair Justin Gamester, CSP. Justin and I have served together on the board for six years. I always look forward to traveling to SIMA events and in-person meetings with Justin. Though he is almost 15 years younger than me (I look younger, though) he has been a great sounding board and confidant. Justin, thank you for your service and friendship.

To my wife Michelle, I want to thank you for your support in our business and giving me the time to serve in an even greater capacity on the SIMA Board of Directors. To our children, thank you as well for allowing us to build our company; you have pitched in since we started and continue to as I write.

I hope everyone has a profitable season financially and in professional growth. If you have questions or if I may be of service, feel free to contact me at

Doug Knott, CSP, owns Knott’s Land Care in Amherst, NH. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

CSP testing moves online

'Becoming a CSP is now more accessible than ever - what are you waiting for?'

These days, nearly everything can be done from the comfort of your home or office computer, from shopping to online classes and meetings and more. You can now add SIMA's Certified Snow Professional exam to that list. Online testing is now available for the first time in the program's history.

SIMA's CSP program has been the standard for excellence in business for the past 10 years. We have 199 CSPs today, but we believe a key reason limiting the industry's uptake of the CSP is testing delivery. To adhere to above-average standards, we previously required candidates to take the exam at a physical testing center. In response to feedback regarding exam delivery, a program review and our successful rollout of online testing for the Advanced Snow Management program, we moved forward with online delivery of the CSP exam in June 2017.

In the new process, exams are offered online once per month. Once a candidate successfully submits and application, they sign up for an exam date. On that day, the exam is placed into their online SIMA Training Center account at Candidates then have two days to complete the six sections of the exam: Business, Human Resources, Marketing, Sub-Contractors, Snow & Ice Science, and Snow & Ice Operations and Techniques. Candidates have two opportunities in the exam time period to pass each section. If any sections are not passed, they can be retake during a future test date.

In addition to the ease of online testing, you can also save $100 on the Certified Snow Professional application fee, courtesy of sponsor BOSS Snowplow, when you submit a completed application now through October 31, 2017. Learn more here.

By improving access to the CSP program, we hope that more owners, salespeople, operations managers and financial and administrative leaders will take the leap to become certified. Becoming a CSP is now more accessible than ever - what are you waiting for?

For more information on the CSP program and online testing, visit or email