Snow Plow Clears Roadway

A truck clears Highway 47 from a previous snowstorm.

A winter unlike any seen in recent years has been good news to snow removal companies.

Business has been booming for snow removers serving Franklin County. Numerous snowfalls this winter have kept private plowing companies on the road.

James Girdner, owner of Girdner Snow Removal, said in his 14 years of plowing this winter has been busy.

“It’s right up there with the busiest I’ve had,” he said.

Girdner said his two plows have been out frequently this winter. He said he covers an area from Pacific to Washington and does mostly residential areas. This year, however, he’s been in more demand.

“I’ve managed to fit them all in,” Girdner said. “There’s a lot of people that have plows now-a-days, but when I first started doing it, I picked up every job I could get. Now I might get half the jobs I bid now. Still, I’ve been pretty busy.”

Business this winter has been so good for Girdner he said he’s considering growing his business.

“I’m looking to expand,” he said. “I’m looking into getting another truck or two.”

On Monday afternoon, Girdner was nearing the end of a 12-hour shift. Despite the amount of time spent in the truck, Girdner said one more good snowfall would be good for business.

Unlike other removal companies, Girdner said he would be ready for another snowfall because he has a precious commodity in stock: salt. Increased demand for the ice melter has led to a reduced availability of salt. Girdner said he still has one or two pallets left — perfect for one more snow storm.

“It’s getting pretty scarce, but I’m not out,” he said.

The snow plowing business at Hillermann Nursery & Florist isn’t as lucky as Girdner when it comes to salt. Sandi Hillermann McDonald, president of Hillermann’s, said she ran out of salt this weekend.

“What we’re having a hard time with right now is the ice-melt products,” McDonald said. “There’s a shortage. We use calcium chloride, which is the top of the line. It works so much better than salt. It’s out pretty much across the country.”

McDonald said plow crews have been extremely busy this winter, not that anyone is complaining. She said the increased revenue has helped the business.

“The snow removal business has been excellent this winter,” McDonald said. “You never can predict it, and it always has its challenges, but it has helped us with winter business.”

As the calendar turns to March, McDonald said she hopes the most recent storm this weekend is the last.

“We’re hoping this is it,” McDonald said. “But, with the longer the days are getting, and the time change, we’re getting to the point where when it snows it doesn’t stay around as long. It’s getting better.”

McDonald said Hillerman’s runs seven plows and can have up to 20 people out shoveling. Despite the increased use in plows, she said the trucks are holding up.

“Knock on wood, things have been accident free,” McDonald said.

A major storm with sleet and ice was predicted for this past weekend but, fortunately, the storm was much weaker than anticipated.

The storm did manage to ice over roads and sidewalks — enough to deplete Scheer Landscape Company’s salt supply.

Chris Von-Behren, project manager at Scheer Landscape Company, said the two plow teams and two hand-shovel teams tossed the last bit of salt Monday morning.

Von-Behren said business is up this winter, but the customer base hasn’t grown too much. As a small company, Scheer doesn’t have the manpower to tackle every subdivision that needs plowing.

“We have a certain number we can handle, so we try to keep it in a certain range,” Von-Behren said.

Von-Behren said crews, which are running 12-hour shifts when it’s snowing, have complained very little about the increased workload this winter. Still, he said, he would like to see the snow go away.

“We’ve had enough of this,” Von-Behren said. “We’re ready to get started on spring and get back to landscaping.”

joe b

GN - Snow Removal - 030514