The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 26, 2014

Not everyone hates to see another snow fall

Accumulation equals added income for some businesses

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL bhuchel@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Round after round of snowfall this winter has been a boon for snow removal business owners around the county who sat through warm winters the last two years.

While the record-setting snowfall has meant plenty of work, it’s also translated into some long hours and equipment maintenance for the business owners.

Kevin Lacey of L and L Lanscaping in Georgetown said he has spent long hours out working to try to keep up with the snow this winter.

“Some points in time it’s been 48 hours straight before I get home to take a break,” he said. “You just pull into gas station or restaurant to get a bite to eat and move on to the next job.

“You’re loving the money that comes in, but you have the expense of the equipment and upkeep,” added Lacey, who has worked snow removal as a side to his landscaping business for 20 years.

Chris McMahon of CJ’s Snow Plowing said he has four trucks for plowing. And each one has been in the shop at least once this winter season.

“Almost everyone I know has one of their trucks in the shop this year,” he said, citing the large snow mounts. “With this you’re guaranteed you’re going to put money in the vehicles.”

Even with four trucks, this snowy winter has kept the 12-year snow plow veteran busy.

“Trying to keep everyone open is a massive job,” he said.

After a brief reprieve from the wintery weather, there are early indications the snow will return this weekend. Early forecasts from the National Weather Service in Lincoln indicate a system pushing through during the weekend could drop 3-9 inches of snow on the area. Totals could change as the weekend gets closer.

With the potential for more on the way, Vermilion County already has surpassed its snowfall record this winter by amassing 48.3 inches of snow. McMahon said he is already prepping for the new round of snow.

The Village Mall, 2917 N. Vermilion St., has among the larger parking lot areas in the county to clear when it comes to snow removal. Cindy Compton, manager for the Village Mall, said the mall bids out the contract every year before winter begins.

“The challenge is to keep up with everything,” she said. “The budgets are out the window when you get twice the snowfall as a normal year. It’s an uncontrollable cost.”

Compton added the mall works closely with snow removal companies to keep costs down as much as possible.

She said the mall’s top priority is to make sure the lots are cleared well and in a timely manner.

Both Lacey and McMahon said they have several contracts with local businesses. They attempt to fit in residents needing their driveways cleared when possible.

“The phone never stops ringing,” McMahon said.

Lacey noted that usually residents won’t call unless more than 3-5 inches of snow falls.

Doing a large parking lot isn’t as simple as it sounds. Lacey said the timing of snows this year has made it difficult to have a business parking lot clear before regular business hours. Working a lot while the business is open brings up new problems in addition to the snow, ranging from vehicle traffic in the lot and parked vehicles as well as customers coming in and out of the building.

Although having the work is good, McMahon — like a lot of residents — would prefer a few less snows during a winter season.

“If I had my choice, we’d get back to the normal five-six snows per year,” he said, adding that would give him a chance to see his kids again.