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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

New SIMA Training Videos Available Now

Snow management is tough. Annual training doesn’t 
have to be.

A core resource that SIMA has provided to the industry over the past 20 years is its training video series, consisting of seven videos focused on different aspects of snow and ice management. SIMA videos have helped thousands of industry workers be safer and more efficient. As with everything, training videos get old and need an update; so SIMA has been working with several partners to create a new snow-specific series of training videos. We recently launched six new videos as part of the Snow Management Video Training Series from SIMA:
  • Snowplowing Safety & Preparation: This video is designed to introduce snowplow operators to basic snowplowing principles and general techniques, including pre-season 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 & obstacles, and plow scenarios.
  • 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 a comprehensive look at the recommended use of containment plows. It covers 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 in clearing snow and ice from walkways. 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 wide range of topics on skid steer loaders and compact equipment, including site application, attachments, techniques, safety, training and preventive maintenance. Other topics include equipment advantages, common mistakes, and tips and bidding help.
Videos are available in both English and Spanish, and can be purchased a la carte or as a package. Visit for more information and to see a preview of one of the new videos, or purchase them streaming online at DVD versions of the new videos are coming soon.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Training primer

SIMA offers options to educate and prepare your teams

Training your snow teams can be overwhelming; which is why SIMA has made it easy to access safety and training resources as part of its commitment to membership. Snow Safety Week. New training videos. ASM University. Online CSP testing. Snow Safety Bootcamp. All of these and more are just a click away. Here are some tips on how to integrate SIMA’s available resources into your day-to-day operations:

Retaining key employees
Consider staggering training over time. Investing in your administrative and operational teams through Advanced Snow Manager and Certified Snow Professional training will show that you value them and will increase the skill and knowledge of your organization. Talk with your team and set up a two- to three-year plan to increase the number of ASMs and CSPs you have on staff.

Members can leverage the SIMA Training Commitment ($200 discount) to get one person in your organization started with ASM or CSP training. ASM University is another easy way to sign up more than one person for ASM and save money on each registration.

Preseason basic training
For basic training of operational personnel, leverage the members-only Snow Safety Boot Camp by downloading the PowerPoint and integrating the information into your existing preseason training. To ramp up your preseason training, invest in SIMA’s six new training videos available at

Training champion
Identify the person in your organization who is passionate and committed to snow safety training and designate them as your training champion. Recognize them and encourage them to visit for training-specific materials available to SIMA members. Connect them to and to receive access to free, quality stories that can be easily turned into tailgate talks and other training opportunities.

Enhance the value
Communicate your formal training strategy, including use of these SIMA resources, to your customers, prospects and insurance providers. Each of these audiences will see value in professional safety and skills-based training and will help you continue to differentiate yourself in your market. 

Building training with quick tips
Since the launch of the SIMA Library at about two years ago, we’ve been creating content that is relevant, high quality and easy to access.

Our Quick Tips section is a tangible example of this strategy. Since 2015, we’ve provided a monthly focused topic that can be read quickly. The Quick Tips library includes:
  • Conduct A Job Hazard Analysis
  • Spotters for Snow Removal Services
  • Establishing A Tailgate Training Program
  • Tying Up Postseason Loose Ends
  • Fuel Storage for Cold Weather
  • Light It Up, Legally
  • Using Video for Training, Documentation
  • Throw A Snow Rodeo
  • Staking Best Practices
  • Preseason Prep
  • Certificate of Insurance Protocols
  • Equipment Purchasing: What to Know Before You Buy
  • Backup Cameras & Safety
  • Create Better Customer Surveys
  • Cutting Edge and Plow Shoe Maintenance
  • Get A Jump on Rust
  • Combating Driver Fatigue
  • Walking Safely in Snow and Ice
  • Planning for Equipment Breakdowns 
  • Prepare for Snow Removal Site Damage Now
  • Storing Plows in The Off-Season
To access all of the Quick Tips, visit Special thanks to BOSS Snowplow for their support as our Quick Tips sponsor.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

Snow Safety Week is back

'In early 2017, SIMA conducted a survey related to injuries in the industry, and the results reinforced the need for us to continue to provide safety training and information for those fighting winter weather each season.'

Since 2013, the SIMA Education Committee has made safety a primary focus for educating the industry. SIMA’s Snow Safety Week, an annual week-long event with articles, videos, webinars and more, has played a significant role in bringing that safety focus to the forefront. The amount of snow management-specific safety information we have generated in these past five years has been beneficial - but there’s always room for more! This year, we proudly celebrate the fifth anniversary of Snow Safety Week, October 23-27, 2017. 

Why safety training?
In early 2017, SIMA conducted a survey related to injuries in the industry, and the results reinforced the need for us to continue to provide safety training and information for those fighting winter weather each season. Let’s recap a few key stats:
  • 23% of companies had one or more injuries in the past season resulting in lost work time.
  • Over 50% of injuries/lost time occurred due to an employee slipping and falling.
  • 58% of respondents indicated that sleep deprivation was the root cause of most injuries to their workforce, followed by 35% relating it to employee attitudes toward safety.
As we planned this year’s Snow Safety Week, we kept these stats in mind and will begin chipping away at these challenges: making workers less prone to injuries from slip and falls, along with reducing the impact of sleep deprivation and examining its effects on safety in the industry. This year’s lineup includes:
  • Webinars focusing on employee slip and falls and workplace conflict.
  • New articles covering a variety of topics on personal health and safety.
  • 10-minute Facebook Live events to talk safety with Safety Week sponsors. 
In addition, past Snow Safety Week resources are in the SIMA Library at

Learn more about Snow Safety Week at Special thanks to our 2017 Snow Safety Week sponsors: BOSS Snowplow, FCA Commercial and Caterpillar Inc. for their commitment to industry safety. 

Commit to safety
SIMA is constantly looking at safety resources that we can build for the benefit of the snow and ice management industry. We urge you to commit to safety as well. Here are five ways to help you elevate safety within your company:
  1. Access SIMA’s members-only Snow Safety Boot Camp course at for basic training on nutrition, sleep management, stress management and walking safely on snow and ice.
  2. Challenge your snow teams to actively participate in Snow Safety Week by viewing the webinars and by reading and sharing the tips provided in the articles and Facebook Live events.
  3. Review your snow-specific safety training and seek to align it with the entire season vs. simply conducting preseason training.
  4. Commit to safety at the top and consider instituting annual safety awards or a recognition program for your team.
  5. Audit your managers/crew leaders and identify safety champions vs. those who might cut corners. Attitudes toward safety internally can be the difference between a safe winter season and a catastrophic injury.
As always, SIMA wants to hear from you. If there is a major safety-related area of interest to you, please email 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

SIMA launches procurement RFP best practices

'This document is the most comprehensive shared vision of how snow and ice should be procured in commercial and retail settings...'

By Brian Birch
In the fall of 2016, SIMA worked with the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) on a shared event called the Snow Industry Think Tank. We brought facilities/property managers and snow contractors together to discuss shared challenges related to successful procurement and delivery of snow and ice management services.

From that diverse meeting, our next big best practices project was born - Purchasing Snow & Ice Management: Quality RFP Creation and Best Practices.

This project was a mammoth undertaking. It started with the results we gleaned from the Think Tank, where our core audience helped identify the RFP process as a critical component that drives the relationship between buyer and service provider. Both parties also identified what is most important related to service verification/documentation, critical site criteria and more.

From there, we created a rough draft of an RFP guideline. At this stage, we could have published it based off the preliminary Think Tank results; but we took it a step further and completed a thorough review and validation using a diverse set of industry experts and stakeholders.

Over the next several months, 18 stakeholders representing buyers, service providers, subject matter experts and suppliers (insurance, equipment, etc.) reviewed the guideline and submitted over 100 comments and insights. SIMA, led by our snow expert Phill Sexton, CSP, reviewed each comment, and we started the revision process.

In July, SIMA gave the stakeholders a last look and finalized the guideline, which addresses site assessment, service verification, contractual liability, communication and more.

This document is the most comprehensive shared vision of how snow and ice should be procured in commercial and retail settings, and contains appendixes that should serve as standardized best practices for service verification and general site assessment. SIMA will provide this guide to the facility management industry, and we encourage all industry professionals to review it in depth.

Best practices principles
SIMA governs its best practices with the following principles:
  • Open Access: Guides are available to all industry stakeholders at no cost, regardless of whether they are members of SIMA.
  • Education: SIMA spearheads educational partnerships and communication programs to help all parties adopt best practices.
  • Comprehensive: Best practices documents are reviewed by a large group of industry stakeholders representing multiple areas of expertise.
  • Quality Control & Transparency: The best practices documents are living documents, and suggestions, recommendations or concerns can be submitted online at
Download the guidelines at and provide feedback to 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Culture: If you build it, they will come

'Creating the kind of culture that shapes careers starts with a decision to make employees one of the top priorities in your company’s mission.'

The August issue of Snow Business is focused on Culture: If you build it, they will come. And, as an association, SIMA is focused on professionalism and success for organizations of all sizes and for individuals who may be looking at our industry as a possibility for their future. A positive and nurturing company culture can provide the right environment to grow roles typically thought of as temporary or seasonal jobs into careers that can last for years or even a lifetime. 

It’s human nature to feel good about being able to contribute as part of a team that’s working toward a common goal. When people feel like they are an important part of a productive team, loyalty builds; and as a result, they want to stay where they feel that they have a future they can count on. Belonging and the stability that comes from teamwork are important elements to help your organization become a workplace of choice, one that attracts, trains, and retains the talent that’s needed for sustainable success and helps you overcome the constant battle to build or rebuild your team.

Creating the kind of culture that shapes careers starts with a decision to make employees one of the top priorities in your company’s mission. Every owner, every company will take a slightly different path to success but there are some essentials that will help to form the foundation you need to continue to build. The resources you need are at your fingertips, starting with SIMA and Snow Business. We have the experts, professionals and networking opportunities to help you connect with others who have found the way and are willing to share what they’ve learned to help you build it, so they will come.

For more on building culture and a stronger workforce, visit to view the online issue of Snow Business. If you’re ready to take the next step, join us for the Season Opener: Build Your Dream Team in Baltimore on September 19-20. Learn more and register at