Friday, March 22, 2013

Awards...why should you apply?

The snow & ice awards program continues to promote leadership in our industry. 

By Heather Carew
With the 2012-2013 winter season coming to a close, it’s time to sit back and evaluate the work that was done. Were you successful in managing all your properties? Did you pick up new sites throughout the season? Have you received compliments from your customers? Did one particular employee stand out in terms of service and commitment?

Thinking through all of these things, I would encourage you to also think about one more: recognizing your company or top employee by submitting an application for the annual Snow & Ice Industry Awards. This year, apply for the Excellence in Business Award and Safety Awards to recognize your company and their accomplishments or the Employee of the Year Award to show your top employee how much his or her work means.  

Why should you apply?
Everyone has their own reason to apply for an award, but taking this first step can give you some great things:
  • Recognition at the Annual Snow & Ice Industry Awards and Recognition Night held during the 16th Annual Snow & ice Symposium in Minneapolis, MN (Applicants for Excellence in Business and Employee of the Year will receive one (1) complimentary Awards Night ticket)
  • Award winners will receive a special Awards Night trophy or Plaque to display in their office
  • Award winners will be recognized in Print via a special section in Snow Business Magazine
  • Award winners will be recognized Online via social media, webpages, and email communications
  • Award winners will receive a specialized Press Release to share with clients and media contacts regarding the win 
The snow & ice awards program continues to promote leadership in our industry. SIMA is accepting applications for this year’s Snow & Ice Industry through April 13, 2013 (May 1st for Safety Awards). Visit for more information and to apply. Thank you to Awards Night sponsors CrewTracker Software, Morton Salt, and International Salt Co.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Symposium Scholarship opens doors

SIMA is proud to continue to offer the Alan Steiman Symposium Scholarship to deserving snow and ice contractors each year, allowing people to attend the Symposium who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.

By Elly Kobach
SIMA’s Annual Snow & Ice Symposium is a great way to meet new people and talk snow and ice with contractors from all over the US and Canada. Many have said that the knowledge they gain at the Symposium is invaluable, not just from the formal education, but from all the networking that goes on behind the scenes. While many agree that it is a great experience, it is reality that some people aren’t able to attend because of cost reasons, whether they are just starting their business or didn’t have a profitable winter. 

SIMA is proud to continue to offer the Alan Steiman Symposium Scholarship to deserving snow and ice contractors each year, allowing people to attend the Symposium who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. The scholarship, created in 2010 in memory of longtime SIMA member, mentor, and friend Alan Steiman, awards the winner full Symposium registration, access to all ticketed events, and a $1000 travel stipend. SIMA has awarded four scholarships to date, to some great contractors with great stories. A few quotes from their applications show the meaning behind this scholarship:
  • “The fact that so many members are so willing to help each other out; sharing advice, efficiencies, and lessons learned…the SIMA Symposium would be awesome to attend. I think I could learn so many things from the seasoned professionals to help build my business, both as a challenge to myself and to benefit my community by offering them the best possible services and practices in the industry.” – Steve Koep of Fargo Snow, 2011 recipient
  • “I love learning, and going to the snow and ice symposium is full of learning opportunity. The amount of education and information sharing that goes on seems unlikely to occur anywhere else. Being young, I am trying to take every opportunity I have to further my knowledge, and be on the leading edge in snow and ice management services.” – Shawn Rine, CSP of Rine Landscape Group, 2012 recipient
The scholarship program continues to help individuals in snow and ice learn and grow, and is a fitting tribute to Alan, who was a great industry mentor and educator to many. 

SIMA is accepting applications for this year’s Alan Steiman Scholarship through April 12, 2013. Applicants must be current SIMA members and have never attended a Symposium in the past. Visit for more information and to apply.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Snow Safety Week is coming...

'We should do a Snow Safety Week!' I said to my 2 year old son. He wasn't too excited with the brilliance of this statement, but I persevered.

By Brian Birch, CAE
It was just over a year ago when my boss, SIMA CEO Martin Tirado, threw me an idea he'd been tossing around. It was Discovery Channel's 'Shark Week' at the time, and he said simply; 'we should do something like that for the snow industry.' It was a relatively nonchalant statement, but I was intrigued.

Fast forward many months. Like all good ideas, this one was something that just kept popping back into my head from time to time. As SIMA has shifted to a more specific focus on safety in the industry, the 'Shark Week' concept hit me full blast - 'We should do a Snow Safety Week!' I said to my 2 year old son. He wasn't too excited with the brilliance of this statement, but I persevered.

I went back to Martin and Phill Sexton, our Director of Education and Outreach, and pitched the concept to them...they were intrigued, and we began planning what we hope will be a tradition for all of us in the industry - using one formal week each year to talk safety and snow removal.

We are very excited at the opportunity to work with our publishing partner, Moose River Media, to deliver Snow Safety Week to the industry, March 25th - 28th, 2013. We have planned a diverse program that includes a free webinar, Conducting a Post-Season Safety Review, for anyone in the industry, almost a dozen topical articles on safety issues, multiple facilitated discussions at, and more. We are also excited to thank Progressive Insurance as a 2013 Snow Safety Week sponsor!

Please take a moment to add Snow Safety Week to your organization's calendar, and share the concept with your employees, subs, and operators. It may seem strange to focus on safety at the end of the season, but we feel this is an opportune time to reflect on the past season while it's fresh, talk safety, make changes, and continue to create a safer working environment for employees and customers. 

Hope to hear from all of you if you have any thoughts on this concept, and how we can improve it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Membership visits = membership value

Chris Marino
After visiting a friend’s facility in Canada, 
we decided to implement a new residential snow management strategy to supplement our traditional commercial work.  

Many SIMA members, through their affiliation with the association, meet and build long-term friendships. These relationships are a key way professionals can grow through sharing best practices and ideas with their peers. Over time, many friendships result in members visiting each other’s sites to see how they manage a snow operation. We caught up with Chris Marino, CSP, of Xtreme Snow Pros of Mahwah, NJ. Chris recently visited a member in Quebec after getting to know him through SIMA. What he learned led him to launch a new segment of his snow management business in 2012.

How many SIMA members have 
you visited so far? 
Since joining in 2011, I have visited four snow contractors that I have met through SIMA.

How did SIMA help you in building those relationships?
SIMA has helped by putting me in contact with other people who have similar businesses as mine. We are able to share ideas with each other since we have so much in common. It has been very beneficial for me to meet snow contractors in Canada because they have a completely different way of operating, and the culture is different. Using this insight as a way to contrast our business, I have been able to incorporate some of their techniques into my company. This has been a huge plus, since I am offering services that have never been offered in my location.

What is the most exciting thing about visiting a contractor’s facility?
I love to visit other facilities because we all have similar businesses, but we run them differently. It’s nice to compare how their businesses are both different from yet similar to mine. I usually take some new ideas back to my office to better my company and hopefully share some ideas with the folks I’m visiting at the same time. It opens your mind to other ways things can be done, and it truly is a huge learning experience on both sides.

What is the most important thing you learned from a site visit?
After visiting a friend’s facility in Canada, we decided to implement a residential snow management strategy to supplement our traditional commercial work. We have opened a new company and have outfitted it with a tractor and snowblower, and we were able to take several of the ideas I learned through the site visit to jump-start our new venture. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Eight Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling

A 2011 study published in the Clinical Research in Cardiology revealed that shoveling snow actually does increase the risk of a having a heart attack. The study looked at 500 people and found that 7% started experiencing symptoms of heart problems while shoveling snow. The cardiologists conducting the Canadian study felt that while 7% is significant, there could be as many as double that number given the fact that the patients may not have connected their heart problems with snow shoveling. 

"While heart attacks may be the most serious consequence of shoveling snow, there are other even more common health risks including dehydration, back injuries, pulled muscles, broken bones and frostbite. But the good news is there are ways to safely shovel snow," said Martin B. Tirado, CAE, Executive Director, SIMA. 

Here are SIMA's safe snow shoveling tips:

TIP #1: Stay on top of the snow. No we aren't suggesting that you make snow angels but when there's a heavy snow, the best advice is to stay ahead of the storm. SIMA recommends that to prevent snow and ice from adhering to the sidewalk or street, clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors. 

TIP #2: Wear breathable layers. Layering is typical cold winter weather advice. We suggest wearing layers of loose clothing so you can peal a layer off if you get hot. Avoid wearing heavy wools, manmade materials or other materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Better choices are cotton and silk.

TIP #3: Watch your feet. No you aren't on Dancing with the Stars, but nonetheless, you need to pay attention to what's on your feet when heading outdoors to shovel snow. SIMA suggests wearing quality outdoor winter wear such as waterproof boots with good traction. Good traction is critical to ensuring that you don't slip and fall.

TIP #4: Take a few minutes to stretch. Shoveling snow is a workout so you need to stretch to warm up your muscles particularly because you are shoveling snow in the cold weather. Stretching before you start shoveling will help prevent injury and fatigue. 

TIP #5: Push don't lift. Sounds like something a high school wrestling coach may say but if you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it, you exert less energy thereby placing less stress on your body.

TIP #6: Drink up! Water that is. SIMA recommends taking frequent breaks and staying hydrated. You should drink water as if you were enduring a tough workout at the gym or running five miles. 

TIP #7: Don't play in traffic. Sometimes people get so focused on the task at hand they don't pay attention to their surroundings. When shoveling snow near streets, pay attention to the traffic since vehicles may not have good traction in the snow and ice. 

TIP #8: Call and text. We're not suggesting that you make calls and text while shoveling snow, but it is important to have your cell phone on you so you can make a call in event of an emergency.

Monday, March 4, 2013 helps build business

We wanted to create a simple space that allowed people in the industry to read relevant content, and share thoughts, photos, and videos. 

By Brian Birch
The strategy was simple; create a space online to provide high quality, relevant content in various formats for industry professionals to use, including SIMA members. At no cost to the snow professional, period. And in June of 2010, with a lot of hard work, was launched.

This was not a typical thing to do for a national trade association; traditionally associations have kept quality content hidden behind a membership login, to ensure members see value. However, in this day and age, with so much information available at our fingertips, anyone anywhere can create and share content easily. For SIMA, a proactive strategy was adopted to create; we wanted to create a simple space that allowed people in the industry to read relevant content, and share thoughts, photos, and videos. Since then, the SIMA staff and key industry volunteers have built a solid resource that will continue to evolve and grow over time. We’d thought we’d share some of the progress so far.

In 2011, was discussed in the book The End of Membership as We Know It by Sarah Slydek, a well-known association thought leader. In the book, and SIMA are featured alongside other innovative associations like the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. These are best-in-class associations, and we are excited that could serve as a solid example of a realistic approach to association-led content management online, alongside these great associations.

Here are some of the tangible resources available to anyone in the industry, right now, at
  • 50 short videos produced by SIMA and Snow Business, including contractor interviews, short topical presentations, and brief demos
  • Over 25 ‘Quick Tips’ on various aspects of managing a snow business, quick and bulleted tips for easy reading
  • 220 videos uploaded by the community, including videos related to products, plowing techniques, and more.
  • 60+ articles and tips related to legal issues and insurance
  • 30+ resources related to tools and technology in the industry
  • Over 90 resources on ice management, including deicing, anti-icing, and more
SIMA realizes that is not perfect, and we are committed to evolving and improving this asset to the industry. Share below any thoughts you have on how we can improve the site!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Built on Trust

Good governance is vitally important for both the for-profit corporate and non-profit sectors. Why? The most simple answer is trust.

By Martin Tirado, CAE
Let me guess, when you see an article about corporate governance you read it immediately, clearly prior to the compelling sports stories of the day or what the showing times are for the blockbuster movie that just opened over the weekend. You don’t? I didn’t think so, and neither do I, as it just isn’t a ‘must-read’ news item. How about an article about excessive corporate compensation or buyout packages prior to bankruptcy filings (think Enron)? A bit more interesting for sure. When some of these scandalous stories receive media attention, it does lead to more questions, and questions certainly related to why good governance matters. Good governance is vitally important for both the for-profit corporate and non-profit sectors. Why? The simple answer is trust.

Trust is about the importance of these concepts: accountability, ethics, financial oversight, compliance with the law. All are key concepts that, as pieces of good governance, are clearly defined and actively practiced. To cover several more of these critical areas of good governance, take a quick look at these sites:

As for SIMA, as the only 501(c)(6) nonprofit trade association in our industry, we are accountable to our members and need their trust to continue to enhance professionalism in the snow and ice industry. Good governance is paramount to what we do. SIMA’s board of directors underwent a comprehensive update to our board governance policies in 2012 and now practice the Policy Governance® model. Our governance policies can be read on SIMA’s website and we also practice several other forms of good governance that enhance our accountability to members. These are such things as conducting a full, independent financial audit annually by a CPA firm, disclosing conflict of interest situations, a clearly defined investment policy of the association’s assets, anti-trust protection, whistleblower policy, and disclosure of annually filed tax returns to the public.  Most non-profit organizations, including SIMA, have their annual tax returns available for free public viewing at That’s an issue of transparency, we don’t have anything to hide that we can’t disclose to our members or even the general public. 

Anti-trust issues for trade associations are particularly sensitive, as there have been many cases of industry members engaging in collusion to limit competition or fix prices, and they have been prosecuted as such. Anti-trust law has its roots in the Sherman Act (USA) and the Competition Act (Canada), and SIMA actively follows its guidelines. Both for in-person meetings and in online discussions, we have statements read that prevent discussions on pricing and price setting, boycotting, exclusivity arrangements and other possibilities that would violate anti-trust law. Short term, it may feel nice to have snow and ice contractors raising their prices across the board. But we wouldn't want our consumers or suppliers to do the same. That’s the quandary, and why there are good, relevant laws to maintain a free and open marketplace for all.

Good governance also deals with conflict of interest and conflict resolution. Policies should be in place to have directors and officers of the board and senior staff disclose conflicts of interest and specify what actions are taken when conflicts do occur. Board of directors have legal duties to abide by, namely duty of care, loyalty and obedience. When a diverse group meets regularly to discuss strategy and company issues, disagreements can arise. How these disagreements are dealt with and resolved are important, with awareness given to what’s in the best interest of the company, not what is in one person’s own best interest.

SIMA’s governance structure is continually being evaluated and developed, with appropriate training provided for our board of directors and professional staff. Our newly adopted bylaws and governance policies are not the end, they are part of a journey to be a part of best practices for non-profit, trade associations.

There are many companies and associations that are doing good work, meeting and even exceeding the needs of their customers. Unfortunately, there are also some Enron’s. In your business decisions, I ask that you take a moment and evaluate a business on many criteria, and don’t exclude how they practice good governance. It’s a matter of trust.

*Source: Associations Matter: Associations By the Numbers, ASAE report 2012