Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Contract clauses are new benefit

By Mike Mason, CSP

In December 2016, a stakeholder group comprised of snow and ice management professionals and experts in the legal and insurance industries put the final stamp on a project that created a set of advanced contract clauses.

Contract templates are a popular benefit for SIMA members. As part of its mission to deliver increased membership value, SIMA decided to complement these contracts with a glossary of advanced clauses that can help further protect the contractor in terms of risk management and liability. 

After an extensive collection and review process, the stakeholder group settled on clauses that related to payment terms, snowfall limits and measurements, property conditions and damage, employee protection, liability, reporting, ice management, service restrictions, subcontractor management and insurance. 

We’re not lawyers, of course, which is why we enlisted the aid of an attorney and insurance expert to review the clauses. It was an eye-opening experience since they were able to offer improvements that made the clauses more defensible or suggested we remove those that would be difficult to uphold. 

Some of the clauses may work in one market and not in another or only for certain types of customers. All the more reason to ensure your attorneys and insurance people review all contracts for legality and defensibility. 

The goal is to review these clauses and make additions or adjustments as needed, at least once a year. We encourage input and suggestions on how we can improve the tool and make it the best resource possible. Members can download the clauses here. Anyone with suggestions can email Cheryl Higley at

Mike Mason, CSP is vice president of The Lawn Pro in Louisville, KY. He is a former SIMA board chair and served as a stakeholder expert for the project. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Symposium turns 20, heads to Montréal

For all the details on this year’s Snow & Ice Symposium, June 20-23 2017 in Montréal, visit, and check out reasons to attend below!

7 Reasons to join SIMA in Montréal

1. Network, network, network: Attend the show and you’ll have the opportunity to learn and share ideas with attendees from markets across the United States and Canada. Have an issue you can’t resolve? The odds are high that you will connect with someone with the same experiences or someone who found a way to resolve that issue in their company.

2. Trade show hours extended: The show floor will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. You get 3.5 more hours to learn about and shop for the latest equipment and services in snow and ice. View the interactive trade show floor to see who is exhibiting in 2017 at

3. Top-notch keynotes and education: We are extremely excited for this year’s professional keynotes. During concurrent sessions, you will also learn from great minds and leaders from outside (and within) the snow and ice industry.

4. Practice your French...if you want: Montréal is a crossroads of European and North American culture. Most citizens speak French and English, so it isn’t hard to fit right in. Plus, its multicultural population shapes the local flavors and culture. Interested in learning more French during your visit? Download the Google Translate App for a handy tool.

5. Your U.S. dollar will go a lot further in Canada: U.S. visitors will get about a 30% discount on purchases due to current currency exchange rates.

6. Double the celebration: SIMA is celebrating its 20th anniversary while Montréal celebrates its 375th anniversary ALL. SUMMER. LONG. The city will be alive during your visit, so bring your friends and family!

7. You want to be inspired to kick snow in the teeth during the 2017-18 season!

Get your passport today!
Is your passport valid for summer of 2017? Montréal is a short 39 miles (63 km) from the U.S. border. By plane, the city is only two hours (or less) away from many major cities, such as Toronto, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. U.S. citizens who cross into Canada must show either a valid passport or other accepted documentation to Customs or Border Control. Visit for more travel and hotel details.

New hours this year
When you review the Symposium brochure in this issue, you’ll note that hours and dates have changed. This is due to the Quebec holiday, Saint Jean Baptiste Day. Education and kickoff events begin Tuesday. Trade show days are Wednesday and Thursday. All educational sessions and the closing event will be on Friday. Take note of the new start dates and times before you make your travel arrangements.

Visit for registration and details - we look forward to seeing you in June!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What’s in the cards for the next four years?

'SIMA will continue to lead the way as an advocate for the business success of the snow and ice management industry.' 

By Martin Tirado, CAE
A new president has been inaugurated in the United States, and there is no shortage of organizations, media and individuals expressing their thoughts on “what a Donald Trump presidency” means for them. In the snow and ice industry, there will be some effect since President Trump was elected based on his support of positions that starkly contrast those of former President Obama. President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will push for changes from the top down while state and local initiatives will affect our industry regardless of who’s in charge in Washington, D.C. 

Many issues may affect the business climate in the United States, such as the planned repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, a focus on deregulation and immigration reform, the promise of border taxes, and withdrawal from or renegotiated trade pacts. Specific to our industry, here are a few things to look for in the next four years:

Chloride’s impact on freshwater 
At all levels of government, there has been increasing awareness of the need to limit chlorides applied to paved surfaces. Despite a general sense of deregulation from the federal government, some of this momentum will continue to grow. SIMA is in the late stages of its Sustainable Salt Initiative research project, which hopes to define industry standards for application rates that are defensible in slip and fall cases.

H-2B and workforce development
The exterior maintenance industry is among those facing a labor shortage, and it affects businesses year-round. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the largest user of the H-2B guest worker program is the landscape industry. H-2B is not an immigration issue; it’s a workforce issue that allows businesses to hire seasonal workers from foreign countries. In the fall, Congress did not renew returning work provisions that would exempt certain H-2B workers from the non-immigrant visa cap, which stands at 66,000 for FY 2017. This could further tighten an already strained labor pool. Although not a winter issue, despite its green-industry focus, it would be naïve of SIMA not to advocate on behalf of our many members who use this program. We have supported the National Association of Landscape Professionals on this issue for several years and will continue to do so. But it is clear we need to explore ways to recruit more workers into the essential industry of snow and ice management.

Liability limitations
State legislators are starting to take notice of laws that put undue liability responsibility on the shoulders of snow and ice management companies. In August 2016, Illinois passed the Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation Act that voids provisions in snow removal contracts that shift risk solely to one party. Although it applies to both sides, typically snow and ice companies must accept most of that liability, even in the absence of negligence. SIMA is also engaging with and supporting initiatives such as New Hampshire’s Green SnowPro program. Contractors who successfully complete a training program become certified and obtain liability protection on slip and fall cases where proper documentation was maintained. These are positive steps toward easing the burden of risk on professional snow contractors. It will be interesting to see whether other areas of the country follow suit.

In talking with other snow and landscape industry leaders, there is a shared opinion: Expect the unexpected. But regardless of the politics in Washington, SIMA will continue to lead the way as an advocate for the business success of the snow and ice management industry. 

Martin Tirado, CAE, is SIMA CEO. Contact him at