Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SIMA sponsors report measuring scope of industry

'In SIMA’s process of building professionalism and best practices, we need to better understand who we are. Having this first impact report is a step toward this knowledge acquisition.'

By Martin Tirado, CAE
$23 billion. That’s roughly the market size of the private snow and ice management industry in the United States and Canada combined, according to the first-of-its-kind impact report sponsored by SIMA. 

The purpose of producing this report was simple: Generally, there is a complete lack of essential information on size, scope, demographics and economic impact in the private snow and ice management industry. Thus, SIMA contracted with an experienced researcher, WolfWorks Consulting, to uncover this information. We found that knowledge of the market is critical to understanding the current state of the industry. Once acknowledged, benchmarks and trends can be built upon the baseline data and decisions made on how our market impacts all of us. In SIMA’s process of building professionalism and best practices, we need to better understand who we are. Having this first impact report is a step toward this knowledge acquisition. 

The strategy now for SIMA is to discover what’s next. We want to hear from you about what information was useful in the impact report and where information is still lacking. We will work to analyze what information can be used at a local level to help SIMA members successfully operate their businesses.

This will not be easy since the impact report confirms that the industry is exceptionally fragmented. The top four largest operators account for less than 5% of overall revenue. With an industry of more than 22,000, we see an opportunity to grow the association and bring value to a greater number of snow and ice management professionals. We will continue to lead the industry and need make clear, convincing value propositions for more membership participation.

A few demographics measured in the impact report:
  • A ‘Top 10’ list of the largest U.S. states in overall market size.
  • Total snowplow service operators, including how many are employers vs. sole proprietors.
  • Amount of paved surfaces in square miles, including total parking spaces and facilities.
  • Percentage of snow and ice services for companies with multiple lines of business (landscaping, exterior maintenance, etc.)
An executive summary of the report is available to download here. A full report and webinar addressing the findings will be available in late August. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Getting a head start

SUNY Cobleskill is the first college in North America to offer ASM modules as part of its degree process

By Timothy Marten
This spring, SUNY Cobleskill became the first college in North America that incorporates Advanced Snow Manager credentials as part of the degree completion process.

In collaboration with SIMA, SUNY Cobleskill has developed the “Advanced Snow Management” course that couples SIMA’s Advanced Snow Management online modules and credentialing with hands-on lab experiences, site visits and coaching from Advanced Snow Managers and Certified Snow Professionals.

Snow and ice services are becoming an increasingly complex and critical part of many landscape companies’ offerings. By undervaluing snow and ice management, the typical college or university landscape-oriented degree program prepares students for only half, or – at best – three-quarters of the work and potential revenue of a year-round landscape firm. This degree model leaves graduates with a vast gulf in career-readiness in snow and ice management. 

Comprehensive preparation
Snow and ice management is an unforgiving industry, rife with opportunities for a crew leader, manager or owner to end up at the center of a lawsuit. As such, merely incorporating snow and ice management into a series of lessons or a handful of lectures across various courses is no longer sufficient preparation. It requires a comprehensive approach as a standalone component of a landscape-oriented degree track. SUNY Cobleskill has begun to use ASM as an essential factor in educating the next generation of industry professionals.

This Advanced Snow Management course brings students together from across curriculum areas, including landscape, plan science, turf management and agricultural engineering. Online ASM modules are supported with forum discussions and assignments highlighting learning outcomes. I manage the course day to day, and SIMA Director of Education & Outreach (and adjunct faculty) Phill Sexton coordinates and plans full-day lab experiences, including firm visits, mentoring and equipment rodeos. 

Real-world exposure
Placing students into the professional environment is an essential part of applying classroom knowledge in the real world. In one of the full-day labs, students visited Rick Kier, CSP, of ProScapes in Jamesville, NY. The students received a behind-the-scenes look at snow planning, operations and equipment management, and learned from Kier’s 30-plus years of experience. His professionalism and business location make ProScapes an excellent partner for incorporating mentorship into our ASM education at SUNY Cobleskill.

This May, eight students from the SUNY Cobleskill Advanced Snow Management  course completed ASM credentials as part of their degree completion. AS SUNY Cobleskill celebrates its centennial, the landscape program is looking ahead as it strives to more effectively prepare students for the complexities of snow and ice and green industries.

Timothy Marten is an assistant professor at SUNY Cobleskill in the Plant and Animal Science Department in Cobleskill, NY. Phill Sexton is the Director of Education & Outreach with SIMA and Adjunct Faculty at SUNY Cobleskill. Contact him at Phill@sima.org. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Join the Snow Business Readership Panel

Snow Business
magazine seeks to deliver relevant experiences, insights, and solutions to the snow & ice management industry. As an industry professional, now you can weigh in on relevant topics year-round with the newly created Snow Business Readership Panel. 

Join the Readership Panel today by filling out the form at www.sima.org/readership to be considered as a resource for future stories. For example, if we’re writing a story on sidewalk best practices and that is an area in which your company excels, we can reach out for your insights. In addition, we’ll send short surveys on trends throughout the year and share responses in our Last Word feature. It’s easy to join and you can participate as much as you’re able (including the opportunity to write stories for the magazine or SIMA Library).

How else can you take part in industry content & education?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Library to add members-only content

By Cheryl Higley 
The 2014 launch of the new SIMA website improved functionality not only for visitors but also for the back-end processed of the association that have allowed us to better serve our members.

SIMA is dedicated to providing the industry with comprehensive training and educational tools to help empower snow and ice management companies as they build stronger businesses. As such (and after a cyber-attack on our previous educational arm - GoPlow.com), we followed up the new website and more robust SIMA Training Center with the 2015 launch of the new SIMA Library.

Still in its infancy, the Library houses the most recent Snow Business archives as well as new content generated by myself, SIMA staff and industry experts. It's a work in progress, but we hope you find the easily searchable Library useful.

Now that we have launched the Library, the next goal is to add further value, specifically for those who have made the financial commitment to join SIMA. The Library allows us to protect some content solely for SIMA members, and over the next year we will begin building more in-depth content covering a variety of topics that will be accessible through a password-protected Members Only section.

Expanding our goal
Our goal as an association, through training, Best Practices, Snow Business magazine, and various digital initiatives like the Training Spotlight and Snow Business Insights e-newsletter is to provide as much education and information as possible to the industry at-large; however, we also believe membership has its rewards. This is a new step for SIMA, so we hope you'll be patient as we build the Members Only content. We also are seeking your input as we build the section. Please feel free to contact me at chigley@grandviewmedia.com and let me know what resources you'd like to see us add to the Members Only site.

Cheryl Higley is editor in chief of Snow Business magazine and Editorial and Information Manager for SIMA.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trade Show Tune Up

Symposium will feature new interactive opportunities between exhibitors, attendees

By Heather Carew
As we enter the final planning stage of the 19th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium set for June 22-24 in Providence, RI, we wanted to share some upgrades and changes we've made for this year to improve the trade show experience. The two-day trade show features the latest and greatest industry innovations. It's also a once-a-year opportunity for suppliers to get direct feedback from the marketplace about their products. We are working hard to make this experience even better this year through the following:

1:1 meetings
The trade show is a wonderful way to experience the innovation and sophistication of the snow industry. But the show has become popular and busy enough that we hear from attendees and exhibitors that they want more one-on-one time with key contacts during floor time. Considering that, this year we are unveiling off-hour meeting opportunities. A SIMA 1:1 at the show will enable a show attendee to proactively schedule protected time with a key exhibitor in a quiet location on or near the floor. All preregistered attendees can sign up for one or more 1:1 meetings using a simple scheduling system. To schedule a meeting, visit www.sima.org/LetsMeet. Each 1:1 will include a reminder of the date/time and a SIMA usher to lead the attendee to the appropriate location at the scheduled time. 

Navigation revisited
SIMA took a big step this year as a maturing trade show by investing in navigation software to help attendees and suppliers navigate the trade show floor. Visit www.sima.org/showfloor for an interactive floor map. This features the ability to hover over booths and get more detailed information about exhibitors. It also empowers anyone to search the exhibitor list by categories such as technology/software, salt, heavy equipment, etc. The bonus is that the Web-based system will be available long after the show is over, so you can find and review all of our exhibitors as needed. Our goal is to make your time on the trade show floor as efficient as possible, so you can get the tools you need and build the relationships that sustain your business. On-site, watch for a new trade show floor map pullout in the Xtra show guide.

Relationships enhanced
Lead retrieval units for each exhibitor are another new feature included this year.* We pride ourselves in being an exhibitor-friendly show with noncompete trade show hours, free food and beer, and more. Now we are enhancing the ability for exhibitors to connect post-show with individuals who visit their booths through our lead retrieval systems. This benefits attendees as well, since they can be assured that most exhibitors that they want to connect with will follow up with them after the show, even if they forgot their business cards.

If you haven't tried the Symposium app yet, this is the year to do it! Aside from having your own personalized schedule for all education and networking events, you can access all trade show-related information and link to other event attendees. Visit https://guidebook.com/g/2016SnowShow/

We are always open to feedback and suggestions on how we can improve your trade show experience, email Heather@sima.org. Learn more about the Symposium and register today at www.sima.org/show

Heather Carew is Manager, Membership & Sponsor Development, for SIMA. *Note: Exhibitors must be an active member to qualify for free device.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

SIMA moves to new Milwaukee headquarters

The Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) relocated its operations to its new Milwaukee headquarters on April 29, 2016. SIMA has been headquartered in Milwaukee since moving from Erie, Pennsylvania, in 2008.

SIMA Chief Executive Officer Martin Tirado, CAE, said the association’s growth necessitated the move.

“The new office allows SIMA the flexibility to grow over time, and it gives us a permanent home,” he said. “Financially we found an option to purchase that was similar to leasing, except now SIMA receives the benefits of ownership.”

The association had been leasing space in the same Milwaukee office for close to 8 years. The new headquarters is three miles north of the current office.

SIMA closed on the sale of the headquarters office building in August 2015. Since then, remodeling and updating work have been under way. The majority of SIMA’s professional staff will be working in the new office. In addition, SIMA maintains staff in IA, OH, and NY.

“Having SIMA professional staff in multiple locations allows us to interact and meet with members and affiliated companies throughout North America. Yet, with our base office in Milwaukee we can continue to offer centralized services and benefits to help snow and ice companies grow and succeed,” Tirado said. 

The new address is:

Snow & Ice Management Association, Inc.
10140 N Port Washington Rd
Milwaukee, WI 53092

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Alan Steiman Symposium Scholarship

'His legacy lives on in the scholarship, which gives a first-time Symposium attendee the opportunity to receive the benefits he so strongly believed in: gaining knowledge and fostering friendships.'

By Debora Babin Katz
American journalist Christopher Morley once says, “There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning.” 

Alan Steiman recognized this fact, and in 2010 SIMA established the Alan Steiman Scholarship to honor the longtime SIMA member, board president, mentor and friend. 

As many of us in the industry can attest, Alan always looked out for others, especially those starting out in the snow business. As an organization, we were fortunate to have Alan and his family present at the Snow & Ice Symposium in Rhode Island for the first presentation, which was awarded to Bob Henderson of Reliance Property Maintenance. 

Alan passed away about two weeks later after a long battle with cancer. Yet his legacy lives on in the scholarship, which gives a first-time Symposium attendee the opportunity to receive the benefits he so strongly believed in: gaining knowledge and fostering friendships. 

Beyond the scholarship
To date, eight members have been honored with the Alan Steiman Scholarship. 

“When I learned that I had been chosen for the Alan Steiman Scholarship, I was thrilled that I would have the ability to go to the Symposium. It helped me move my company forward,” says 2013 winner Brent Reeder of Brent’s Outdoor Solutions in Hillsboro, MO. 

Mary Abbott of Mow Beta! Mowing & Snowplowing in Cabot, AR, also won in 2013. She operates in a low-snowfall region where there are no dedicated snow and ice product vendors. 

“By attending the Symposium, I was able to get the mentorship, acquire knowledge and directly evaluate the equipment I wanted to buy from people who know the industry,” she says. That knowledge has allowed Abbott to rethink her business structure. “This year we have decreased our mowing operations and increased our winter operations. Our snow and ice work has proven more profitable and is the section of our company that is meeting our growth objectives,” she adds. 

Reeder’s business has also experienced greater growth since his first symposium. “Most recently we completed a merger with another large landscaping company to further increase our capabilities,” he says. Both recipients continue to attend the Symposium.

“Knowledge is power,” says last year’s recipient Adam Hunter of A&J Lawn and Landscape in St. Louis. “It’s amazing how much you can take in and learn by being around and discussing different factors with other snow professionals.”  

Hunter is “very humbled and grateful” for the Alan Steiman Scholarship. He believes that by attending the Symposium it gave him the confidence to pursue clients he may not have otherwise due to feeling that he didn’t have the knowledge to close the deal. 

Building a network
For Shawn Rine of Rine Landscape Group in Columbus, OH, becoming an Alan Steiman Scholarship recipient in 2012 was a shock. “I knew how large the industry was and thought that there were people who would be better qualified for the scholarship than myself.” 

Rine was overcome by the openness and generosity of everyone he met at the show. “Even as one of the youngest attendees, I remember going out with some of the older members and staff after the day’s activities and feeling like I was part of a group of close-knit friends, even though many of them I had just met days or hours before.”   

Rine has since become a Certified Snow Professional and his snow revenue has doubled due to his increased knowledge of industry best practices.  His advice to first-time Symposium attendees: “Don’t be afraid or self-conscious about being the new guy, or worry about the size of your operation; the SIMA family is there to help anyone who needs it. Ask questions, network, and communicate with people at the show - make connections!”  

For Brock Goodman of Goodman Snow Service in Cardington, OH, the networking has continued well beyond his first Symposium in 2011. “Our company benefited greatly from attending the Symposium. Not only did we learn tons about new equipment technology and business management techniques, but many of the relationships I made during my first symposium are with people from around the country that I still talk to almost daily,” he says. Since winning the scholarship, Goodman’s company has gone from a two-man operation to servicing 80-plus commercial accounts with 25 pieces of equipment in use during every snow event. 

“We now budget specifically for several of our team members to attend the Symposium every year. It has been a great experience not only for me, but also for my employees,” he says.

This year, SIMA returns to Rhode Island for its Symposium and another scholarship will be bestowed to a fortunate candidate thanks to the generosity and support of SIMA members. 

It will be bittersweet to watch the winner receive the award and remember Alan Steiman, a humble man who was generous both with his time and knowledge.  

The Alan Steiman Scholarship is open to those who have never attended a Snow & Ice Symposium. The recipient will receive complimentary registration and a travel stipend. Apply for the scholarship by April 15 at www.sima.org/awards

Debora Babin Katz is VP of TrucBrush Corporation and Chair of the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee. Contact her at dkatz@trucbrush.com.