Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why is the Sustainable Salt Initiative so important?



'I believe in the power of individuals working together, and this industry is poised to take the next steps in becoming more sophisticated and accountable in how we manage the chemicals we put on the ground each storm.' 

By Phill Sexton
On June 10th, 2015, I emailed some of the SIMA staff with a last-minute project before the 18th annual Snow & Ice Symposium. We needed to fortify some marketing information and material for a new initiative I’d been spearheading related to salt application research. This email began a conversation internally that resulted in a solidification of the Sustainable Salt Initiative.

For the past 2 years, I’ve been helping to coordinate an extension of a comprehensive research project for salt application rates in parking lots and facilities. But first, a quick review. Over the past 5 years SIMA invested in and supported the Snow and Ice Control for Parking Lots, Platforms, and Sidewalks (SICOPS). SICOPS was a multi-year research project currently being undertaken by the iTSS Lab at the University of Waterloo, with support from many interested parties. The primary goal of this project is to address the common question that faces every winter maintenance contractor: What are the right snow and ice control methods, materials, and amounts of material that should be applied under specific winter weather conditions? In conjunction with this project, a new software and material tracking system dubbed Viaesys has been developed and is now available for the industry to utilize.  

The SICOPS data has been compiled from multiple years of research, and we have a solid baseline on true application rates in controlled settings. SIMA and Viaesys are now working together to research application rates for snow professionals in real-world settings. This information will be coupled with research conducted by SICOPS to determine a helpful set of recommendations for salt applications that make business sense and proactively address environmental concerns associated with over-application. In line with this, the focus will be on developing local standards that fit the needs and expectations of a specific region and are backed by years of real-world data collected from that region. 

Now we are entering a new and exciting phase of SIMA’s investment in research, where SIMA and Viaesys will focus on collection of core data from true field applications by snow contractors across North America. We are seeking leaders in the industry who are willing to invest in the process of collecting real-world data on salt application rates. After an initial investment in equipment, these contractors will be outfitted with web-based, GPS-enabled salt tracking systems that automatically tracks material as sites are serviced. Some supplemental marketing materials will be provided for research participants so they can share with clients and prospects. The long term vision for this initiative is to combine and utilize the data for developing practical, easy to implement winter maintenance guidelines that are potentially used for defending slip and fall claims in the courts.
   
It’s exciting to watch this evolve organically into an organized process to tackle one of our industry’s bigger issues. As the past few winters have shown, an over-reliance on salt alone can become an ‘Achilles heel’ for a snow business when supplies become limited or costs skyrocket. As an industry, we must hit this issue head-on before government intervention and public pressure pushes us into a reactive position. I believe in the power of individuals working together, and this industry is poised to take the next steps in becoming more sophisticated and accountable in how we manage the chemicals we put on the ground each storm. Learn more about the Sustainable Salt Initiative by:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why should SIMA convene a second Think Tank?



'Issues and discussion will be attendee-generated, meaning you will pick the most important topics and develop strategies and solutions.'

By Martin Tirado
Leaders in the snow and ice industry will meet together in a collaborative Think Tank on September 1-2, 2015 at the historic Willard Intercontinental in Washington, DC. SIMA facilitated an industry Think Tank last year in Detroit, which concluded in overwhelming support of the need for standards that can be easily implemented and widely practiced. Over the past year, SIMA has taken the ideas generated in 2014 and created these resources:
  • Updates to the best management practices checklist – available for free download at www.sima.org/bestpractices.
  • Publishing of the first, comprehensive snow and ice industry glossary of terms (coming soon).
  • Sustainable Salt Initiative – A multi-year research project that uses contractor-based salt application processes to make informed decisions on how much salt to apply to meet client expectations.
  • ANSI Accreditation of the Advanced Snow Management certificates (ASM) – ANSI accreditation verifies that every aspect of the ASM certificate programs are governed by processes and procedures that are fair, transparent, relevant and accountable.
The reason to hold a Think Tank in 2015 is to continue building the industry from last year’s accomplishments. The collective knowledge in the audience was powerful. Along with SIMA members, there were also several facility managers and insurance professionals in attendance to develop strategy that would reflect the interests of all stakeholders.

We will do this again on September 1-2, and hold a legislative ‘Day on the Hill’ on August 31 where attendees will be able to meet in the offices of their elected members of Congress to see how the U.S. government can help the snow and ice industry. Think Tank issues and discussion will be attendee-generated, meaning you will pick the most important topics and develop strategies and solutions.

I look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC! Here are some ways you can take action and use SIMA resources:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's a Record!










'A big “thank you” to all sponsors, exhibitors, members, volunteers and the SIMA Board of Directors & Symposium Planning Committee for all their hard work and dedication to the association.'

By Martin Tirado
The 2015 Snow & Ice Symposium is over, and SIMA’s record books are being rewritten! Over 1,900 total attendees, over 130 exhibit booths spread out over 100,000 square feet of space, hundreds of volunteers, sponsors, the media and a “who’s who” of the snow and ice industry convened in Schaumburg, IL from June 24-27. The greatest 4 days of snow and ice set these records in 2015:
  • Highest total attendance: 1,966
  • Most exhibitors in the trade show: 140
  • Largest trade show size: 100,000+ square feet
Of the many highlights of the Symposium, 2015 was no different in recognizing our award winners and leaders of the industry during the snow & ice industry awards. This year’s winners included 28 new Certified Snow Professionals (CSP), 63 Advanced Snow Managers (ASM), and 23 Safety Award recipients. Additionally, these individuals and companies achieved the following prestigious awards:
  • Alan Steiman Scholarship: Adam Hunter, A & J Lawn and Landscape LLC
  • Greatest Story Never Told: Connor Kolb, WNY Snow Removal
  • Volunteer of the Year: Debora Babin Katz, TrucBrush Corporation
  • Employee of the Year: Katie Raymond, Case Snow Management, Inc.
  • Top Recruiter: Paul Vanderzon, ASM, Metal Pless Inc.
  • Snow Industry Commitment: Douglas Dynamics 
  • SIMA Environmental Leader of the Year: BSR Services Inc.
  • Philanthropic Leadership Award: David Dudash
  • Excellence in Business: About Time Snow & Ippolito Snow Services      
A big “thank you” to all sponsors, exhibitors, members, volunteers and the SIMA Board of Directors & Symposium Planning Committee for all their hard work and dedication to the association. Also, be sure to thank the SIMA professional staff for all they do on a daily basis to continue to serve and support the growth of the snow and ice industry.

Visit www.sima.org/show to view the attendee resource center and session materials from this year's presentations. 

See you next year in Providence, Rhode Island, June 21-24, 2016 for the 19th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why can quality operations training can be a game-changer in 2015?






'SIMA’s four certificate programs have now joined the ranks of less than 50 organizations nationally who have achieved such accreditation.'

By Elly Lobello
Training and education have always been an important part of SIMA’s mission and purpose. Our members consistently report that managing and developing their employees is a major long-term challenge for them. In 2014 we launched the Advanced Snow Management (ASM) certificate program to Build a Better Workforce. The ASM program has been a great success so far, with nearly 300 certificates earned since its launch. It has truly elevated training in the industry to a new level. 

In addition to developing the content and delivery of the program, a major undertaking of the staff and our Stakeholder Advisory Group was to apply for accreditation for each certificate through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under the ANSI/ASTM E2659-09 accreditation standard. ANSI oversees the creation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector. Over the course of a year, we worked hard to understand and implement ANSI-required standards for certificate management. These standards covered every aspect of the certificates, from content development and delivery to assessment creation to program policies and procedures.

We are proud to announce that our hard work paid off, and as of March 30, 2015, SIMA is an ANSI Accredited Program Certificate Issuer - Accreditation Number 1170 for the four Advanced Snow Management certificates:
  • Advanced Snow Management - Core Principles
  • Advanced Snow Management - Ice Management
  • Advanced Snow Management - Plowing Operations
  • Advanced Snow Management - Sidewalk Operations
SIMA’s four certificate programs have now joined the ranks of less than 50 organizations nationally who have achieved such accreditation, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), and the Institute of Food Safety, Health, & Hygiene.

This achievement elevates our ability as an industry to train our operations managers and operators more effectively, and verifies that every aspect of the ASM certificate programs are governed by processes and procedures that are fair, transparent, relevant and accountable. In addition, ongoing program reviews by SIMA staff and the SAG ensure constant updates and improvements, keeping content relevant and within best practices for instructional design and adult learning. 

The ANSI accreditation will be a significant talking point to insurance stakeholders in our industry, as well as property and facility managers. Investing in quality skills and training proves a commitment to managing work safely and efficiently, reducing risk, and improving service outcomes. Furthermore, employers can use it to build skill and pride in their employees, and help their key personnel look at our industry as career, not just a job.

Learn more about how to invest in quality training for your organization:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why do SIMA members need peers to hold them accountable?



'Sharing best practices with others leads to effective group learning, business growth, and establishes a relationship of friends you can count on to help you.'

By Martin Tirado
Growing up in the 80’s, I recall the catchy song “Talkin’ Baseball” by Terry Cashman. It felt right as when you’re a kid, during summertime, hanging out with friends, it doesn’t get much better than chatting about a sport you love. So now that we have businesses to grow, sales to make and strategies to develop, can we do the same with our snow and ice businesses? SIMA hopes so, and a great place to do this is with facilitated peer groups.

Peer groups are not a new concept. Yet, they have stood the test of time as a result of the value they bring. Some of these are:
  • Professional facilitation so the critical successes, challenges, and growth opportunities are brought out through thought-provoking questions and answers.
  • Like-minded participants, in the same industry, with the same goals who can share in a small group setting where all information remains confidential.
  • Sharing best practices with others leads to effective group learning, business growth, and establishes a relationship of friends you can count on to help you.
SIMA’s involvement in forming peer groups is to help you focus on your snow and ice business. Peer group participants can get into the details of all the things we love (and hate) about the business that other exterior maintenance service providers don’t bother with. Contract types, anti & de-icing methods, using liquids in different ways, finding a market niche, maintaining your best employees year round and finding seasonal employees, are just some of the different topics a SIMA peer group can work on. Another feature is that the topics are directed by you and your group. You decide the most critical topics to work on, help each other, then move onto other topics you select. The facilitator is there to help identify root cause issues, ask the more challenging questions and help the group find peer-developed solutions.

In 2013, SIMA conducted a membership satisfaction survey where 81% of respondents indicated that “interacting with professionals” was critical or important to their decision to join SIMA as a member. There are ways this interaction is created, such as at the Snow & Ice Symposium snack and chats, the SIMA Advisors program, and informally through contacts made at SIMA events in person and online. Participation in a peer group will take this interaction to a higher, more strategic level. 

Snow and ice peer groups are forming today. Let us know your willingness to participate by Friday, April 17 so that group formation and meetings can be achieved in 2015, just in time for your 2015-16 winter season. Here are ways you can take action on peer groups:
SIMA Action Alerts are designed to challenge the membership at large to take action and be informed. Please share any thoughts on Action Alerts with Brian@sima.org, or in the comment section below.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Certification as a marketing asset






'A well-managed, well-respected certification program can add significant value to an individual’s credentials and help differentiate them in a tough market.'

By Ellen Lobello
Earning your Certified Snow Professional (CSP) designation is a major accomplishment that reflects personal and professional growth. The commitment to apply for the exam, study the material, pass the test, and then maintain the certification is not to be taken lightly. Over the past year, SIMA has taken significant steps to help ensure insurance providers and commercial facility management professionals don’t take it lightly either.

A well-managed, well-respected certification program can add significant value to an individual’s credentials and help differentiate them in a tough market. The key is to invest time and effort not only in the process of earning the certification, but also in the long-term marketing and communicating of the achievement. Whether you are communicating to your current insurance agent or to a potential client, the integrity, longevity and visibility of the certification program must be clearly communicated at the outset.

SIMA recently rebranded the entire CSP program. At that time we took the opportunity to create new marketing and communication resources for those who earn their certification. We created the CSP Marketing Toolkit, which is a sharp-looking package that includes a USB drive with a variety of ideas and tools on how to market the designation. CSPs can use it themselves or share it with a staff person or marketing firm to promote the certification in marketing materials, on websites and more.


















SIMA is dedicated to helping CSPs find ongoing value and marketing opportunities with the certification, and the toolkit is a great step toward this effort. By marketing their designation on print materials, websites and social media, CSPs can share their commitment to safety and professionalism with a wide audience to help grow their business. 

SIMA is now taking applications for the 2015 calendar year for those qualified to earn the designation. Visit www.sima.org/certification or email Ellen@sima.org for more information.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Why SIMA Killed the Saturday Snack & Chat






'SIMA underwent a thorough review of the show’s structure after June of last year, and we set a goal of simplifying access and registration to the show and its key events.'


By Kaitlyn Herbst
The Snack and Chat roundtable discussions at the Snow & Ice Symposium are typically one of the most important pieces of the annual show, especially on Thursday and Friday. If you aren’t familiar with Snack & Chats, they are a special event at our annual Symposium where snow & ice management professionals come together during a casual networking lunch to discuss some of the most current, interesting and relevant topics in the industry. 

SIMA underwent one of the most thorough reviews of the show’s structure after June of last year, and we set a goal of simplifying access and registration to the show and its key events. After much debate, review of attendee surveys, and observation of attendance history, SIMA has officially decided to remove the Saturday Snack & Chat from future Symposiums. 

Ultimately SIMA has set a goal of empowering more members and event attendees to access training and best practices. With that in mind, this year we decided to include Snack & Chats in the cost of a full registration or day pass (for Snack & Chats on the date registered), as opposed to them being a separate cost to attendees as they have been in the past. If we were to keep the Saturday Snack & Chat, registration fees would have increased to an amount we were no longer comfortable asking you to pay. 

Although change can be difficult, we are very excited with the 18th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium schedule of events. By including Snack & Chats for full registrants and day pass registrants, it allows more folks in the industry to attend, and streamlines the registration process for all – no more purchasing of tickets for these events, just a quick click of a button to RSVP while registering! The more snow & ice professionals in one room, the more wisdom shared regarding best practices in our industry. We hope to see you over lunch in June! 

Here are three simple ways you can help SIMA continue to improve Snack & Chats and the Symposium:
  • Email Kaitlyn@sima.org suggestions for Snack & Chat table topics, Symposium schedule comments, or any thoughts about the Symposium overall.
  • Email Kaitlyn@sima.org to express interest in volunteering during the show as a Snack & Chat facilitator, SIMA booth representative, ticket taker, or other volunteer opportunity. 
  • Register today for the 18th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium by visiting www.sima.org/show. Be sure to RSVP for Snack & Chats and receptions when you register, as this is very helpful for planning purposes.
SIMA Action Alerts are designed to challenge the membership at large to take action and be informed. Please share any thoughts on Action Alerts with Brian@sima.org, or in the comment section below.