Friday, December 19, 2014

SIMA Annual Report

'In the annual report, you can view SIMA's total assets, total income, total expenses, and even see what our largest program-related expenses were.'

By Kaitlyn Herbst
Last year, SIMA generated its first State of SIMA Annual Report. This report is published and sent to members in order to provide transparency of our current financial position and the progress of goals set the previous year (view some of the goals SIMA accomplished in the graphic below). We know you're busy working in or on your business, so it can be difficult to follow every financial, strategic and operational aspect of the association. With that in mind, SIMA produces this report as a summary of the previous year and a look ahead to our goals for 2014-15.

In the annual report, you can view SIMA's total assets, total income, total expenses, and even see what our largest program-related expenses were. Providing this information holds SIMA and the Board of Directors accountable in sharing the same vision, direction and goals of its members.

As members, you are making a huge difference with your passion for the industry and hunger for continued improvement. We could not do what we do without you. For that reason, we want your trust and to be your organization's continued partner in growing and earning respect in this ever-changing industry.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Training: The gift that keeps on giving

'Whether you're looking for training in business, operations or leadership, SIMA's robust resources can be applied to any organization for years to come.'

By Heather Carew
Each year around this time your mailboxes become crowded with catalogs filled with images and descriptions of products that are JUST PERFECT for the upcoming holiday season. You might just throw these away or never actually see them because your kids snap them up so quickly, but that's OK, because the best is yet to come!

The must-see catalog of the season is SIMA's new Online Training Catalog (download a digital copy here). Because quality training is essential to success, this handy piece gives snow & ice professionals a rundown of the training they have at their fingertips through SIMA's Resource 24/7 Online Training Center ( Whether you're looking for training in business, operations or leadership, SIMA's robust resources can be applied to any organization for years to come.

Hot gift idea for your team members
The new Advanced Snow Management certificate program is the "must have" course for 2014. This self-guided, interactive program consists of four modules: Core Principles, Plowing Operations, Sidewalk Operations, and Ice Management. As the only operator-based training of its kind, show your trusted crew members you value them by investing in their industry education as a specialist or a designated Advanced Snow Manager. It will become the gift that keeps on giving, since this knowledge will enable you to market verifiable expertise to clients and insurance companies.

Gifts for all
Don't stop the giving this season! Consider training opportunities for your entire organization using SIMA's team training options. If you're interested in building team strength through education, SIMA will work with you to understand your needs and learn how to achieve them. Following a 15-minute call/demonstration of Resource 24/7, we will create a plan based on who needs to be trained in what area and submit a proposal to you. After the proposal is signed and returned, a training account will be set up and each individual will receive his/her own username and password to access the training.

Happy holidays from SIMA
With all these gifts you've been giving, wouldn't it be nice to get one for yourself too? As a thank you, SIMA would like to offer five free training vouchers to companies who start a team training account. These vouchers can be applied to any Resource 24/7 offering - ASM certificate courses, the Build a Bid estimating package, streaming training videos and more.

Contact for more information on team training.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Industry leaders focus on community service

'It is inspiring to see the work that our members do to give back to their communities, both locally and globally, and it is stories like these that make our industry great.'

By Elly Lobello
Snow Business has many great issues and special sections throughout the year, including State of the Industry, Snow & Ice All-Stars, CEO of the Year and more. One of my favorites, now in its third year, is the Community Service Initiative. This special section highlights three snow & ice professionals who are serving their communities for causes that are close to their hearts. It is inspiring to see the work that our members do to give back to their communities, both locally and globally, and it is stories like these that make our industry great. Special thanks to The BOSS for sponsoring the Community Service Initiative for the third year in a row.

SIMA and Snow Business are proud to share below the 2014-2015 Community Service Initiative participants - watch each of the short videos below, and click each of the titles to read the full stories on

Lawn Butler: Many hands, light work

P & L Landscaping: A park for all to enjoy

Sauers Tree & Landscape Service Inc.: Turning grief into hope

Monday, November 10, 2014

Communication is the key to snow success

'Over the past three years, SIMA has undergone a complete marketing and communications overhaul.'

By Brian Birch, CAE
Over the years, I have managed many projects for SIMA. Even in situations where a small group of people is involved, I’ve always been amazed at how critical good communication is in getting things done. We hear it all the time, but communication is key. Nowhere is this more important than when SIMA and its members seek to communicate to the core stakeholders in our marketplace. Two of these audiences are facility management (FM) professionals who hire snow service providers, and the insurance stakeholders who insure those service providers.

Over the past three years, SIMA has undergone a complete marketing and communications overhaul. We identified many areas of improvement, and one critical area we defined related to how we were (or, in fact, were not) empowering our members to differentiate themselves to the FM and insurance industries. Both audiences are exposed to all aspects of the snow industry, and there are few tools available to help them critically evaluate and understand what a quality service provider looks like. However, we now have some solid resources available to members to help bridge this communication gap.

Tips for hiring a snow service provider 
We developed this piece to be a highly visual and impactful tool for FM professionals. It lays out simple techniques from the FM professional’s perspective to begin to evaluate a snow professional. This is an important difference because we found that previously our industry had tried to force-feed FM professionals the information we felt they needed. The feedback SIMA received through many FM industry channels was that we needed to help them simplify and understand the process of vetting and qualifying snow professionals. This brochure — free to download in print-quality format for SIMA members — will be a primary communication tool to help.

The brochure is usable as is by any SIMA member. For companies with Certified Snow Professionals and/or Advanced Snow Managers on staff, we created separate inserts for those designations that can be used as stand-alone marketing inserts or inserted into the overall brochure for maximum effect.

The brochure is the tip of the iceberg in our ongoing efforts to communicate critical, helpful information to the FM world.

Partners in success
Insurance in the snow industry is risky business, and the current state of affairs leaves contractors looking for quality, affordable insurance. At the same time, insurance stakeholders looking to insure snow contractors face a fragmented marketplace, with few resources to help them understand what good snow operations look like from a safety and risk standpoint.

Our Partners in Success brochure is a new insurance stakeholder communication tool that establishes realistic criteria insurance underwriters and agents can use to assess a snow contractor’s risk. It provides a simple list of core documentation that quality providers in snow should track (tied to SIMA’s Best Practices Checklist for Snow & Ice Management); discusses insurance-related contractual issues; and outlines the value of the CSP and ASM programs for snow contractors. 

Case Study - Jim Turcan, CSP, Cornerstone Partners Horticultural Services Co., St Charles, IL
At the 2014 Snow & Ice Symposium in Columbus, OH, Jim Turcan picked up a copy of the Partners In Success insurance communication brochure from the SIMA booth and sent it to his insurance agent. The brochure sparked a conversation that helped Turcan’s agent really promote his company’s affiliations and certifications. 

“I had previously discussed with our agent the safety improvements we’ve been making for our crews and clients (grip tape on trailer ramps, safety talks, photo site documentation, etc.) but didn’t really have anything tangible or measurable to provide him with other than photos of what we’ve been doing,” Turcan explains. “The moment I got back from the Symposium, I mailed him the trifold brochure on insuring snow services. He reviewed it with the insurance underwriters and confirmed a significant discount on our coverage as a result of our association with SIMA, my CSP designation, and the safety-related improvements we are implementing here.”

To download a copy of either brochure, visit and log in to the member portal.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Finding sustainable salt solutions

'Coming into the 2014-15 winter, salt supply is limited and costs more. This combination has created challenges we’re not accustomed to facing.'

By Martin Tirado, CAE
SIMA just concluded the second of its two Salt Summits. More than 150 combined attendees learned about the use and effectiveness of liquids and brines, chemical application rates, and what other companies are doing to better manage their salt supply. Anytime a group of snow contractors meets and exchanges ideas, good learning experiences are generated with actionable takeaways received.

Simple questions, complex answers 
Coming into the 2014-15 winter, salt supply is limited and it costs more than in the past several winters. This combination has created challenges we’re not accustomed to facing. What the industry often asks in such times are simple questions, but the answers are complex. 

Sustainable solutions
The industry is asking you to discover sustainable solutions for ice melt. We need to look at the sustainable answers. Some of these answers are:
  • Consider using liquid applications, both applied to bulk salt supplies and as a pretreatment to reduce the amount of salt used and enhance its effectiveness.
  • Be diligent in training your operators on knowing how to properly calibrate spreaders, and know the optimal application rates needed to get the job done (use a chemical temperature effectiveness chart, one is available for SIMA members at
  • Analyze your business model and change if needed. Consider the pros and cons of different types of snow contracts. Which types promote the greatest efficiency for the snow contractor and are most cost effective for the customer? Listen to what your customer truly wants and make it a win-win partnership.
  • Communicate with your property and facility managers on chemical effectiveness, air and surface temperatures and proper application rates. Overapplication is not a sustainable solution.
  • Maximize the use of truck and plow snow clearing.
  • Create a long-term partnership with your suppliers. 
  • Position yourself as the expert in your field. Get certified through the CSP (Certified Snow Professional) or ASM (Advanced Snow Manager) program.
Finding salt supplies
There are also steps you can take now to find product as the season approaches:
  • There is salt supply in the market. Suppliers on SIMA’s LinkedIn page are advertising that they have a supply. 
  • You may also need to contact as many people as you know to find a secondary market supplier. It may be expensive, differ in quality than what you’re accustomed to, and take more time and cost to have it delivered or picked up. These are short-term answers. The question that will help your company last longer, grow more, and enhance efficiencies is: What’s your long-term solution to having the salt supply your customers need? 
Martin Tirado, CAE is chief executive officer of SIMA. Contact him at

Monday, November 3, 2014

Snow Safety Week review

‘With a webinar on snow fighter safety, articles, videos and discussion topics, Snow Safety Week was successful in providing quality, helpful information on a variety of safety-related topics.’

By Ellen Kobach
Last week, SIMA,, and sponsors Boss Snowplows and Progressive Insurance produced the third Snow Safety Week at With a webinar on snow fighter safety, articles, videos and discussion topics, 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:
Visit here to see all the articles from last week, and visit for all safety related articles on GoPlow. Thank you to everyone who participated and helped create another successful Snow Safety Week!

Monday, October 27, 2014

SIMA Think Tank: Stakeholders find solutions together

'Collaboration among Think Tank participants generated literally dozens of possible solutions.'

By Phill Sexton
On Aug. 27, facility and property managers from across North America, many having recently joined SIMA, gathered with fellow members in Detroit for the SIMA Think Tank. A first-of-its-kind collaboration between the two industries, the goal of the Think Tank was to provide a neutral forum where snow & ice management service providers and their clients could meet to identify common pains and to develop solutions together.  

The Think Tank produced several overarching outcomes. Most notable was the dynamic variety of collaboration between the various stakeholders. SIMA hired Dr. Michael Marquardt, professor of human resource development and international affairs and program director of the Executive Leadership Program at George Washington University, to coach participants and facilitate the collaboration. 

Stakeholder participants included property/facility managers, service providers, insurance professionals and suppliers who worked together in a roundtable setting to identify common pains and root cause issues, and then proposed solutions under the direction of roundtable facilitators. The groups used Marquardt’s action learning approach to problem solving.

Collaboration among Think Tank participants generated literally dozens of possible solutions. Two common solutions that were identified among 14 roundtable collaborations were: 
  • The need for standardization that is systemic throughout the industry, including standard definitions, contract agreements, payment terms and best management practices the entire industry follows. 
  • The need for increased communication and education between snow & ice service providers and facility/property managers.  
Although the Think Tank was considered a huge success, the work to make the resulting solutions a reality has just begun. To maximize the learning and collaboration from the Think Tank the next step for SIMA is compiling all of the solutions presented and submitting a proposed plan of action to the membership and industry at large. Specific solutions that can be developed and leveraged will be reviewed and approved (if necessary) by members of SIMA’s Outreach Advisory Committee, SIMA staff and SIMA’s Board of Directors. Further strategy and plans of action for the next year will be communicated in the coming months. 

Strengthening the bond between stakeholders
The idea for the Think Tank evolved from the 2012 Snow Strategies Forum in Chicago. At this event, SIMA partnered with several nationally recognized facility/property management (FM/PM) executives who participated on a panel and offered their experiences and frustrations related to snow & ice management services. This initial exposure compelled SIMA to develop an outreach campaign focused on the FM/PM industry. 

Over the next two years, SIMA’s outreach campaign included the development of the Snow & Ice Management Best Practices Guidelines, as well as dozens of news releases and best practices presentations, and collaboration with the FM/PM industry at national, regional and local levels. 

These opportunities to advocate for the industry have also resulted in a new approach for expanding the capacity of engagement with the FM/PM industry through a newly developed group called SIMA Ambassadors. 

Facilities managers, contractors find mutual understanding (By Cheryl Higley)
Attendees at the first SIMA Think Tank tackled 14 topics that represented some of the pain points related to snow & ice management. Each table included a moderator and a mix of contractors, facility/property managers and other stakeholders who spent the entire session focused only on topics covering contracts, scope of work, invoicing, technology and more. Presented with a problem, vigorous discussion resulted in the identification of areas of concern for each stakeholder as well as possible solutions.

At the end of the session, all the groups came together and presented details on their conversations. A common theme throughout each of the presentations was that a lack of communication and understanding of each other’s functional responsibilities and restrictions is hindering a true collaborative relationship as it relates to snow & ice management services.

“The SIMA Think Tank was very informative in many aspects for me. It allowed open and candid conversation that let each participant learn and understand the other side of each other’s business. We need to collaborate more often in this type of setting,” says Doug McDaniel, senior facilities manager-exterior services for Wal-Mart.

Mike Mason, CSP, vice president and COO of The LawnPro, said the active learning format put each stakeholder on even ground: “It allowed us to look at the problems the industry faces in a completely different light. Through discussions with stakeholders at every level we were able to come up with some real solutions. The outcomes were so good, we have begun utilizing the concept of action learning in our company.” 

To learn more about how you can help SIMA’s advocacy and outreach efforts, contact or call the SIMA office at 414-375-1940.