Monday, April 28, 2014

Look Out Montreal, Here Comes SIMA

'Montreal will be the perfect city for SIMA to celebrate its past, present and future for our 20th anniversary.'

By Martin Tirado, CAE
After several months of research, site visits, and negotiations with meetings and tourism officials in Montreal, I’m excited to announce that Montreal, QC has been selected as the location for the 20th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium in 2017!

The SIMA Board of Directors has long discussed reaching out beyond our U.S. based sites for the Symposium. With Symposium locations consistently booked out 3 years in advance, the stars started to align to hold 2017 in Canada. Montreal rose to the top amongst several other cities and convention centers that were evaluated. With our host hotel at the Hyatt Regency Montreal and the trade show and education at the Palais de Congres de Montreal, the Symposium will take place in the bustling, exciting and entertainment-filled heart of this amazing city. The official dates will be June 18-21, 2017, and here’s why you should be there:
  • Montreal is the largest city in the Province of Quebec, the 2nd largest in Canada, and the 8th largest in North America. Its history is lush, with a native population presence traced back over 4,000 years ago, Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832 and served as the capitol of Canada from 1844-1849. Its current state is vibrant and thriving, with a wide assortment of restaurants, entertainment and cultural attractions all located within close proximity of our host hotel and the convention center.
  • Montreal is a bilingual city. With French serving as the official and most commonly spoken language, the majority of its residents are fluent in English. Upon a recent visit to the city, all hospitality and other people I met clearly spoke both languages. It was common to hear both French and English spoken amongst other hotel and restaurant guests, as well as in public streets.
  • As an international destination, the city has world-class attractions for both tourists and business travelers. Symposium attendees will love the summer weather, outdoor concerts and open-air dining and entertainment that make Montreal unique. You will want to bring your spouse and family to this city.
Before I’m asked, the answer is “yes” you will need a passport to enter Canada if you are not a Canadian citizen. Tourism Montreal personnel will be attending the 2016 Symposium to help with the process of obtaining or renewing your passport if needed. For exhibitors, we have secured a relationship with a customs broker who will make the shipment of booth and marketing materials to and from Montreal easy for you. Montreal’s tourism staff has hosted hundreds of business conventions attended by international attendees, so SIMA’s experience in Montreal will not be uncommon to them. On the contrary, the city of Montreal will offer a unique experience to SIMA.

Montreal will be the perfect city for SIMA to celebrate its past, present and future for our 20th anniversary. 2017 cannot come quick enough! I look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 CEO of the Year nominations

'By sharing our winners’ stories, we hope that everyone in the industry – big and small operations alike – will learn something that can set them on their own path to achieving greater success.'

By Cheryl Higley
This summer, SIMA and Snow Business magazine will crown its fourth CEO of the Year. Our first three winners – Sam Granados, Paul Vanderzon and Tim Gibbons – all were honored for dedication to professionalism, advancement of the industry, financial success and community involvement. While those characteristics are part of the judging criteria, they also had in common what I believe is one of the most important traits a visionary leader possesses...the ability and desire to raise others up to be the best that they can be.

With this award, we are able to tell the stories of snow & ice management professionals who have plowed a path to success. Our winners have worn the shoes of a new business owner, faced challenges and sought out industry peers to learn from. But once they achieve success, they know there is much work to do. They look back at their experiences to find ways to pay it forward, to build a new generation of industry leaders.

For me, the value of the CEO of the Year award lies in the people it touches: 

The nominator: Peers who think so highly of someone and their contributions to the industry submit candidates for consideration. To have made such an impression on a person that they nominate you? You’re already a winner.

The judges: The judging team includes the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee, SIMA staff & board members, a sponsor representative and the previous year’s CEO of the Year. They say it’s not what you know but whom you know, but in this case your name will get you nowhere. All judging is based on the criteria and all identifiers are removed. Judges vote on merit, not on popularity or who has logged the most face time at industry events.

The winner: This industry is hard put your head down and do what needs to be done, without glory, laud and honor. That is why it’s a thrill for me to deliver the news to the winners and hear their reactions. In each case, it’s a bit of disbelief mixed with a whole bunch of humble gratitude. Their desire then is to focus less on where they are and instead share insights and stories about who helped get them there – family, industry colleagues, mentors in life and business and the team members who bought into their vision and helped them achieve it.

The people in the industry: By sharing our winners’ stories, we hope that everyone in the industry – big and small operations alike – will learn something that can set them on their own path to achieving greater success. And the winners don’t take their trophy and run...they step up and continue to share their experiences. Gibbons, the 2013 honoree, will speak at the 2014 Snow & Ice Symposium, just as his predecessors did after they were honored. 

The community at large: Each of the winners has looked beyond the bottom line and built a legacy of compassion and giving. Underprivileged youth, men who need a second chance, charities and organizations who help children and others in need have all been touched by the generosity of our winners.

Nominations for the CEO of the Year Award are open now. If you know someone whom you believe is worthy of nomination, please visit to complete the nomination form by May 16. 

Thank you to CEO of the Year award sponsors Western, Fisher, Blizzard, and SnowEx.

Friday, April 11, 2014

ASM group training interview with BSR Services Inc.

'These courses have allowed me to review our current best practices and improve them in order to become more efficient and effective.'

SIMA recently caught up with Nick Mossotti of BSR Services Inc. in St. Louis, MO to ask about his experiences with the Advanced Snow Management program. BSR currently has 3 people working through the certificate program, with plans for 2 more to complete it when the final certificate, Ice Management, is released over the next few months. All of them intend to complete all 4 certificates to become Advanced Snow Managers. 

How long have you been in snow management?  
I have been in the snow management business for nearly two years as Director of Operations for BSR Services. I previously worked for more than 20 years in various executive management positions.

Why did the Advanced Snow Management program interest you?  
This program is the perfect opportunity for me because I want to learn as much as possible about the industry. I’m diving into the snow and ice management business at a fast and furious rate and, in my position, I need this industry training in order to be successful. The ASM curriculum is an educational experience that I am thoroughly benefitting from.

What have you found valuable about the ASM training courses so far?
I’m discovering a lot of cutting edge tools that will make my job and our company run much more smoothly. The training encompasses various techniques that complement and enhance my job’s responsibilities perfectly.

When you earn the ASM designation, how will you use it to benefit yourself/your business?   
These courses have allowed me to review our current best practices and improve them in order to become more efficient and effective. I know that, in the end, both our company and our clients will benefit.

Other members of your company have also taken ASM courses. What is the benefit for multiple people from the same company earning certificates?  
It makes sense that other BSR Services employees enroll in this course so we can better relate to the information. At BSR Services, we are a team. We want to be the best and, in order to do that, we have to keep learning and staying informed. I can personally say that I have become more current on our industry’s best practices through the courses. It has definitely been worth my time and effort, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

The ASM program is available 24/7 at

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trust in the snow business

'Being awarded a snow & ice management contract is really your client’s way of saying, “I trust you to take care of my property.” What a great honor that is!'

By Jim Turcan, CSP
Over the years I have listened to snow & ice management professionals refer to selling snow removal services as more than just plowing and salting. It’s been equated to such things as a risk management plan, a safety necessity and an insurance policy. While I agree those are exactly what professional snow removal services can achieve, I would like to offer a different understanding of what is being exchanged in a snow & ice management agreement: trust.

Being awarded a snow & ice management contract is really your client’s way of saying, “I trust you to take care of my property.” What a great honor that is! But “trust is not a soft skill,” to borrow a phrase from David Horsager, business strategist and author of “The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line.”

SIMA membership has provided much for my personal and professional development, including deeper insight into the issue of trust. I had the privilege to hear Horsager speak at the 16th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium in 2013, and have since embraced his theories on the Eight Pillars of Trust (see above). Think about your best, most respected client. Why is your relationship with them so effective and so enjoyable? Now think about your most difficult client. Why is your relationship with them so strained and rigid? Now think about both of them in the context of the Eight Pillars of Trust. What’s working? What’s not?

Being trusted in this industry is critical to success, and we only get one chance to get it right. Clients trust us to make the right decisions on their behalf...always hold it in the highest regard because it’s an achievement that should never be taken for granted. 

Jim Turcan, CLT, CSP, is president of Cornerstone Partners Horticultural Services Co. in Saint Charles, IL. Join SIMA at the 17th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium for this year's keynote speakers: John DiJulius “What’s the Secret? To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience” and Marc Wayshak “Championship Selling the New Economy.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SIMA members meet with Massachusetts law makers

'In an over 3 hour meeting, common ground was successfully met on several issues, including the growing concern for insurance costs and availability...'

By Phill Sexton
On Friday, March 21, I had the pleasure of teaming up with fellow snow and ice management and insurance professionals to begin the process of finding solutions to the burdening insurance issues that continue to evolve in the state of Massachusetts and throughout the industry. An effort led by industry leader Joseph Szczechowicz, Founder and President of Szczechowicz Landscape Services, Inc. of Rowley Massachusetts, to meet with State Senate and Legislative Representatives was met with great success. Over a dozen snow service and insurance providers teamed up with SIMA (Phill Sexton) and met with Bruce Tarr, Senate Minority Leader and Leonard Mirra, State Representative for the 2nd Essex district.

In an over 3 hour meeting, common ground was successfully met on several issues, including the growing concern for insurance costs and availability, the reasons why insurance availability is becoming more scarce including increasing slip and fall liability, and how the current legislation passed by the Massachusetts Supreme Court has unintentionally contributed to many of the issues in the state.  

You can reference the case Papadopoulos vs. Target Corp., 457 mass. 368 (2010) here: This case was referenced to overturn an over 80 years old ‘natural accumulation’ law regarding snow fall liability and introduced a law requiring Massachusetts property owners legal responsibility to shovel and treat snow and ice on property – whether it is naturally occurring or not. This set of regulation essentially leaves all snow related incidents indefensible, particularly for snow & ice management providers. 

One insurance professional attending the meeting produced a real life example of photos showing snow from the roof of a car being swept into the parking space where it was parked. This example represents one of hundreds of claims each year that beg the question “who is responsible?” The laws as they are written today in the State of Massachusetts essentially make property owners responsible for scenarios like this on a 24/7 basis. It is also common this responsibility is contractually transferred to snow service providers.  

Senator Tarr and Representative Mirra expressed that until this meeting the senate and legislative branches of the Massachusetts government were unaware of these issues. They recognize and predict the potentially dangerous results that could be caused for the private and public sectors if the insurance availability issues continue. One of several solutions they provided was to continue sharing the issues with as many other representatives as possible throughout the state. They stressed that the issues are of legitimate concern and the laws passed by the state supreme court that are causing the unintended consequences can be reversed with enough support from other state representatives.   

For more information on how you can contribute toward solving the growing insurance and liability issues in the snow & ice management profession, and how you can contact your state representative, including the state of Massachusetts, contact me at or visit