Thursday, October 27, 2016

Snow Safety Week 2016 Review

This week, SIMA and sponsor Progressive Insurance produced a fifth Snow Safety Week. With 2 webinars, numerous articles, and 2 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! 

Snow Industry Injury Prevention - View now
Snow and ice management involves equipment, dangerous weather, fatigue, and stress – all of which can easily lead to injuries. This webinar will provide common areas of potential injury, with useful and realistic tips to manage and reduce the chances of injury occurring.

When Disaster Strikes – Response and Documentation Essentials - View now
In our first 2016 Snow Safety Week webinar, we addressed the prevention of injury whenever possible. Unfortunately, accidents and disasters can happen, and being prepared, aware, and having a solid plan in place can make the difference.

Check out some of the highlights from our Snow Safety Week articles: 
Check out SIMA's Facebook page to see 2 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!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More training for members

'Having a formal training program in place not only will ensure that all company employees are on the same page but will also build a higher expectation that those in the field are performing duties safely and efficiently.'

Having members-only content isn’t new to SIMA. Currently, members have free, unlimited access to content such as forms, templates, toolkits and reports that can be used at any time. Beginning this October, SIMA’s initiative is to evaluate and update what is already available as well as to add new training content in the upcoming year. 

This year’s State of the Industry report revealed that 54% of companies who responded do not have a formal training program in place. Having a formal training program in place not only will ensure that all company employees are on the same page but will also build a higher expectation that those in the field are performing duties safely and efficiently. 
Moving forward with updating our membership benefits, SIMA wants to ensure that its members have the training tools they need to provide employees and customers the best service possible. 

Snow Safety Boot Camp
This series provides members with well-rounded content that can be used to train new snow removal employees, providing a deeper explanation of how to properly take care of themselves and their jobs. 

This Boot Camp consists of six on-demand, approximately 15-minute training sessions: 
  • Health and Wellness
  • Sleep Management and Deprivation
  • Managing Mental Health and Family Matters
  • PPE and Equipment Safety Basics
  • Snow Shoveling Safety
  • Walking Safely on Snow and Ice
Easy access
Employee access to this training is simple. When hiring a new employee, SIMA members can create an employee profile under their company account in the member portal. This will give the employees access to members-only content like the Snow Safety Boot Camp and other courses. Companies can offer this to as many employees as they would like. Once an employee finishes a training session, they can submit for credit by properly demonstrating they’ve completed the course, and a certificate of completion will become available to print. 

SIMA members-only training available now at
  • Snow Fighter Safety: How to Battle the Elements While Maintaining your Health
  • Salt Application Oversight & Environmental Responsibility
  • Assessing Operations & Creating a Hands-On Snow Safety Program
  • Basics of Snow Production Estimating
  • Snow Safety Boot Camp
Visit to access members-only training.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sustainable salt use is a path forward for industry

'It will take a lot of research, hard work and training to help our industry. We are taking a big step forward this fall with our newest initiative, the 
Best Practices: Guidelines for Sustainable Salt Use.' 

By Phill Sexton
Over the past two years, I’ve been traveling a lot, building new relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders and discussing a variety of industry-related initiatives. The single biggest focus that has come out of that work relates to the issue of salt use in our industry.

We’ve come a long way over the past 10 years. We’ve invested in research on application rates, launched the Sustainable Salt Initiative and renewed our focus on the use of liquids and other practices that can reduce salt output while maintaining safe conditions. I have also shared my experiences with the Fund for Lake George, the New Hampshire Green SnowPro program, and several other regional entities focused on this issue. 

It’s been an eye-opener, and I’ve realized that our industry is exposed to some major risks — and I’m not talking about slip and fall liability. Studies and initiatives in various regions of North America are beginning to identify the impact salt applied to properties (vs. roads and highways) is having on our environment and water. We have a responsibility together to proactively move the needle, or the government is going to start trying to move it for us.

There is no clear path for us. It will take a lot of research, hard work and training to help our industry. We are taking a big step forward this fall with our newest initiative, the Best Practices: Guidelines for Sustainable Salt Use

SIMA identified that there are no basic standards or minimum requirements for salt use. The research, while making progress, can’t tell us exactly what to apply for each situation. 
The guidelines serve as an informal audit of any site, company, or organization that utilizes salts (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, etc.) to deice or anti-ice. It provides a set of policies and activities that when used together can reduce salt output while increasing the training, knowledge, and skill of the organization.

Just like our other Best Practices checklists, the guidelines are available to anyone in the industry. We won’t hide this work behind a membership firewall. However, in 2017, SIMA members will be seeing some new members-only value related to best practices in snow, including elements related to salt use.

I hope you will join with SIMA, access the guidelines and begin implementing a plan to reduce your usage while improving performance and managing risk. Download the guidelines today at

  • 17 stakeholders, representing snow contractors, facility management, deicing material supply, municipal, and equipment supply. The geographical distribution included reviewers from Canada, the Midwest, the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic. SIMA also engaged three subject matter experts in the review process. 
  • SIMA reviewed more than 125 comments and recommendations from those stakeholders and subject matter experts.
  • Glossary-specific: As with all of the educational and best practices we produce, the guidelines are aligned with our Glossary of Terms. 
Phill Sexton is Director of Outreach for SIMA. Contact him at

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 

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 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 -, 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 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.