Fred Oskanian was instantly drawn to the idea of selling something tangible like snow plowing after having sold intangible stock as a broker for many years. It didn’t take him long to realize he enjoyed being outdoors a lot more than he enjoyed being behind a desk.
While Terra Lawn Care Specialists, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, is a full-service landscaping firm, there’s something especially fun — albeit stressful at times, too — about snow and ice management, Oskanian says.
Oskanian shares how he runs his snow operation and how he chills out when he’s able to take a break.
Business and life goals tend to change the older you get.When I first started out in the business, it was all about becoming a large, multilocation service company. But I’ve started to concentrate on providing the highest quality service to our customers, growing by referrals and providing for our employees and their families.
We just built a brand-new office that includes a gym. That gives me the ability to sneak in a workout during a storm. I can’t call the guys constantly, so I might take an hour or two to get in a workout on the elliptical or lift some weights. Our new office also has cots for the guys to take a break when they need it, and has a kitchen, so we’ll also be able to have food out for the crews.
My main role during a storm is to be in the office, managing things. I stay – and sleep – in the office throughout the storm with the exception of some quality checks to make sure our work is up to standard. Once the storm is over, my operations manager, Joe Zinni, and I make sure we have all the paperwork in order so that we can process our information for billing the very next day. It’s so important to be prompt with invoicing. Our guys are out in the field doing tough work under trying conditions, and we’re committed to paying them quickly.
There is a lot of uncertainty and anticipation when a snow event is coming. But once you know what it’s going to bring, that is the time we’re able to plan and take control of the situation. Until then, it’s a lot of waiting — waiting to see whether the event is really going to happen and how much snow it will bring.
We always pay attention to the predictions. This year in our region, they’re predicting a lot of smaller storms. We love those — it’s less wear and tear on the equipment and less stress on the employees.
I’m fortunate that we have top-notch employees who can handle a storm without me.That allows my family and me to take a week off and go skiing. It’s one way we can de-stress a little during the winter season.
My wife works with me, so I hope to impart on our children a strong work ethic. I hope that they will take pride in what they do — no matter what the task at hand.
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