Thursday, September 10, 2015
'Most associations that produce such material tend to keep it close to the vest, so only those who pay get to play. We have made a strategic decision to put this glossary out there for all stakeholders to access, including insurance, facilities management, legal, suppliers, and snow contractors.'
By Brian Birch
As part of last week’s SIMA Standards Think Tank, we were proud to launch our first official Snow & Ice Management Standard Glossary of Terms for the industry, available at www.sima.org/glossary. We started this project after advanced discussions with facility management professionals and snow contractors at the SIMA Think Tank in 2014, when it became clear that both parties need more tools for RFPs and contracts.
It’s been a challenging project, and one that has forced us to critically think about all the service, legal, and physical aspects of our industry. Our work has taken us through over 25 individual reviews, 200+ individual recommended edits, and over 100 terms. Our review stakeholders included a paid legal review, two thorough edits from Snow Business Editor Cheryl Higley, as well as insight from various facility management professionals, insurance stakeholders, snow contractors, and subject matter experts in numerous areas of the business. From here, further feedback will refine the terms, as this is a working body of knowledge that SIMA will consistently monitor and update over time.
Our next phase of the project can be broken into two major areas; delivery of the glossary and training to help all parties implement this robust set of terms.
Most associations that produce such material tend to keep it close to the vest, so only those who pay get to play. We have made a strategic decision to put this glossary out there for all stakeholders to access, including insurance, facilities management, legal, suppliers, and snow contractors. Long term, we hope to build a more integrated and useful web resource that enables people to find the terms they need, link to other related terms, and get access to more critical information on key items.
What we can’t do in this situation is put out a set of terms and expect things to just magically get better. The only way to help these terms propagate through the commercial/retail snow and ice management industry is for SIMA to spearhead various training and communication programs to help all parties adopt and use the critical terms that can help define service variables, shape the legal and insurance-related challenges, and ultimately provide more tools to help manage the business of snow.
We have already fleshed out some time at the Snow & Ice Symposium in June 2016 for glossary adoption training. We will also be investing time and effort in creating some simple resources and examples for the facilities management world to use to implement more specific and accurate terminology that truly helps them describe the outcomes they desire for their properties.
The end goal is simple; create industry-wide consistency in key terms tied to snow contracts, snow service, and RFPs in snow and ice management. Your feedback is always needed, and we will consistently be updating the glossary of terms based on information we receive from the industry at large. Here are some ways to start using the Glossary of Terms:
Thursday, August 6, 2015
'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
'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.
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
'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
'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
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
'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.
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:
- Email Martin@sima.org your thoughts on peer groups.
- View more information and register for a peer group at www.sima.org/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
'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.