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Dry winter means lean season for plow drivers

By: ANDREW WINEKE
March 30, 2011
0
photo - Mark Zeylmaker, vice president of Landtech Contractors, stands in front of two snow plows. The trucks have seen little use this winter, which has been tough on contractors who rely on plowing to supplement their income. Photo by Andrew Wineke
Mark Zeylmaker, vice president of Landtech Contractors, stands in front of two snow plows. The trucks have seen little use this winter, which has been tough on contractors who rely on plowing to supplement their income. Photo by Andrew Wineke 

One of the driest winters in memory has been no friend to private snow plow drivers.

At the tail end of what is usually the snowiest month of the year, the plow business has been slow, as it has been all year.

“I’ve been doing snow removal for 18 years,” said Dan Thompson, owner of Custom Landscape and Maintenance. “I can’t tell you that I’ve ever seen a winter like this.”

For many landscapers, snow removal keeps the lights on when the ground is frozen and the grass won’t grow.

“Snow removal really kind of pays the bills over the winter,” said Jamin Flesher, owner of 3D Landscaping and Design in Woodland Park.

Fortunately for Flesher, most of his contracts are retainers, so he gets paid whether it snows or not.

“I’m more fortunate than other snow removal guys out there,” he acknowledges.

Justin Hanes, owner of Forest Edge SnowPlowing, has enough retainer contracts to pay the bills, but otherwise, it’s been a lean winter.

“It doesn’t really put food on the table, it just keeps me in business,” he said.

The local snowpack is at about 37 percent of the typical average for this time of year, he said. “That means I’ve lost 63 percent of my business this winter.”

While this is near the top of the charts when it comes to dry winters, you can never plan for snow in the Colorado Springs area, said Mark Zeylmaker, vice president for Southern Colorado for Landtech Contractors.

“We’ve been doing this long enough to know not to count on it,” he said.

On the plus side, the long spells of nice weather have meant an early start to the season for many landscapers.

“I knocked off my first job in February this year,” Zeylmaker said. “That’s pretty unusual.”

Zeylmaker has two trucks still mounted with plow. But, he said, that won’t last long.

Thompson, on the other hand, has a separate fleet of plow trucks.

“They don’t move unless it snows,” he said. “This winter, I got to watch them rust away.”

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