A slow start

Some snow companies who’ve seen little snow so far are utilizing their downtime to get ahead for next season.

For the St. Louis-based Contemporary Landscape, snow season usually makes up a big portion of their revenue, but this season has been off to a slow start.

“It’s been fairly quiet so far,” says Director of Operations Dan Robertson. “We’ve only had one small event so far.”

Though he says he’s no scientist, Robertson says a La Nina weather pattern has caused a series of slow starting winters for his market.

“Typically, most of the snow comes in February,” he says. “January is usually really cold, and we have some salting, but February is usually our biggest month for plowing some snow.

“The last few seasons have been good,” Robertson adds. “Our busiest was probably four or five years ago. We’ve been pretty quiet the last two or three winters… we’ve been stuck in a La Nina pattern the last two or three seasons, and there’s talk of it changing.”

Despite the snow not falling, Robertson isn’t too concerned — saying there’s plenty to be done in the meantime.

“More than anything we always hope that if we don’t have snow we stay busy doing landscape installs or doing property maintenance,” he says. “We still have a lot of guys out now doing cleanups and one-off jobs.”

January is notoriously slow for Contemporary Landscape but the break in the action allows for lots of in-house tasks to get done.

“In our downtime, we’re mapping, routing, bidding properties for the season to come and trying to get scheduling going,” he says. “We’re also trying to hire people and interview people during that time. Plus, equipment maintenance you normally can’t take care of during the busy time of the year.”

Robertson says not knowing when the snow will start falling, or if it will at all, is tricky. This is especially with where St. Louis is located on a map.

“The challenge is predicting the weather,” he says. “We can get either end of a weather pattern.

“We’re stuck between the flow usually. We’ve got warm and wet to the south, and cold and wet in the north. We’re in the middle of that jet-stream all the time, when a system comes through, we can catch either side,” Robertson adds.

Regardless of the slow start, Robertson is optimistic about this snow season.

“Snow is always one of our biggest moneymakers for the year,” he says. “It helps us purchase new equipment for the next season and take care of some other things. Snow is like a slot machine sometimes, but you make good money when it snows.”

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