Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Alan Steiman Symposium Scholarship

'His legacy lives on in the scholarship, which gives a first-time Symposium attendee the opportunity to receive the benefits he so strongly believed in: gaining knowledge and fostering friendships.'

By Debora Babin Katz
American journalist Christopher Morley once says, “There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning.” 

Alan Steiman recognized this fact, and in 2010 SIMA established the Alan Steiman Scholarship to honor the longtime SIMA member, board president, mentor and friend. 

As many of us in the industry can attest, Alan always looked out for others, especially those starting out in the snow business. As an organization, we were fortunate to have Alan and his family present at the Snow & Ice Symposium in Rhode Island for the first presentation, which was awarded to Bob Henderson of Reliance Property Maintenance. 

Alan passed away about two weeks later after a long battle with cancer. Yet his legacy lives on in the scholarship, which gives a first-time Symposium attendee the opportunity to receive the benefits he so strongly believed in: gaining knowledge and fostering friendships. 

Beyond the scholarship
To date, eight members have been honored with the Alan Steiman Scholarship. 

“When I learned that I had been chosen for the Alan Steiman Scholarship, I was thrilled that I would have the ability to go to the Symposium. It helped me move my company forward,” says 2013 winner Brent Reeder of Brent’s Outdoor Solutions in Hillsboro, MO. 

Mary Abbott of Mow Beta! Mowing & Snowplowing in Cabot, AR, also won in 2013. She operates in a low-snowfall region where there are no dedicated snow and ice product vendors. 

“By attending the Symposium, I was able to get the mentorship, acquire knowledge and directly evaluate the equipment I wanted to buy from people who know the industry,” she says. That knowledge has allowed Abbott to rethink her business structure. “This year we have decreased our mowing operations and increased our winter operations. Our snow and ice work has proven more profitable and is the section of our company that is meeting our growth objectives,” she adds. 

Reeder’s business has also experienced greater growth since his first symposium. “Most recently we completed a merger with another large landscaping company to further increase our capabilities,” he says. Both recipients continue to attend the Symposium.

“Knowledge is power,” says last year’s recipient Adam Hunter of A&J Lawn and Landscape in St. Louis. “It’s amazing how much you can take in and learn by being around and discussing different factors with other snow professionals.”  

Hunter is “very humbled and grateful” for the Alan Steiman Scholarship. He believes that by attending the Symposium it gave him the confidence to pursue clients he may not have otherwise due to feeling that he didn’t have the knowledge to close the deal. 

Building a network
For Shawn Rine of Rine Landscape Group in Columbus, OH, becoming an Alan Steiman Scholarship recipient in 2012 was a shock. “I knew how large the industry was and thought that there were people who would be better qualified for the scholarship than myself.” 

Rine was overcome by the openness and generosity of everyone he met at the show. “Even as one of the youngest attendees, I remember going out with some of the older members and staff after the day’s activities and feeling like I was part of a group of close-knit friends, even though many of them I had just met days or hours before.”   

Rine has since become a Certified Snow Professional and his snow revenue has doubled due to his increased knowledge of industry best practices.  His advice to first-time Symposium attendees: “Don’t be afraid or self-conscious about being the new guy, or worry about the size of your operation; the SIMA family is there to help anyone who needs it. Ask questions, network, and communicate with people at the show - make connections!”  

For Brock Goodman of Goodman Snow Service in Cardington, OH, the networking has continued well beyond his first Symposium in 2011. “Our company benefited greatly from attending the Symposium. Not only did we learn tons about new equipment technology and business management techniques, but many of the relationships I made during my first symposium are with people from around the country that I still talk to almost daily,” he says. Since winning the scholarship, Goodman’s company has gone from a two-man operation to servicing 80-plus commercial accounts with 25 pieces of equipment in use during every snow event. 

“We now budget specifically for several of our team members to attend the Symposium every year. It has been a great experience not only for me, but also for my employees,” he says.

This year, SIMA returns to Rhode Island for its Symposium and another scholarship will be bestowed to a fortunate candidate thanks to the generosity and support of SIMA members. 

It will be bittersweet to watch the winner receive the award and remember Alan Steiman, a humble man who was generous both with his time and knowledge.  

The Alan Steiman Scholarship is open to those who have never attended a Snow & Ice Symposium. The recipient will receive complimentary registration and a travel stipend. Apply for the scholarship by April 15 at www.sima.org/awards

Debora Babin Katz is VP of TrucBrush Corporation and Chair of the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee. Contact her at dkatz@trucbrush.com.

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