Ryan Novak, lead landscape designer for Culver’s Lawn and Landscape in Marion, Iowa, admits he doesn’t exactly love the snow.

After 21 years in the landscape business (15 of which have been spent at Culver’s), Novak says that snow management is never an easy task. Storms are stressful. But he also says he’s grateful for them. After all, says Novak, if it weren’t for snow storms he would only be employed nine months out of the year.

Snow makes Novak a full-time employee and, for that, he says he’ll deal with the stress. We recently caught up with Novak to find out more about what he keeps in his plow when he’s out for one of those long nights and how he manages the stress of it all.

I keep limited tools in my truck because we have a guy who goes out and fixes stuff while we’re on the road if need be. But I do always have a chain in my truck as someone is bound to get stuck and I may be the closest truck to them.

I always keep my satellite radio subscription paid. I listen to pretty much everything from talk radio to music when I’m on the road. You could say I’m an equal opportunity listener. The radio keeps me entertained when the nights are long.

Being a mobile office is so important when you’re out on the road all night. But my mobile office is pretty simple. You can do almost anything with a mobile phone these days. I am always staying connected with the other crews that are out. I also use weather apps and am always checking the radar. When you have to make that decision whether you’re going to be wrapping up or if you’re still going, keeping an eye on the weather is crucial.

As a landscape designer I’m always thinking about the next project. I am able to use some of that quiet time on the road to reflect on ideas. Even in the middle of winter I’m thinking about ideas for the upcoming spring and summer and how we can improve what we’re already doing.

The Essentials

Coffee. My coffee mug is always full, and I don’t care what kind of coffee it is as long as it’s dark and strong.

A protein bar or energy bar. I try to eat light snacks that keep me going but aren’t too bad for me.

Peanuts. Another high-protein snack for energy.

Extra windshield wash & wipers. Because you always have to see clearly in the storm.

Extra gloves, boots and clothes. Nothing is worse than being wet and cold.

A case of water. I try to drink plenty of water when I’m out all night and keep a full case on hand in case I run into anyone else who is also out working.

My duffle bag. My hope is always that I’ll finish up in time to fit in a trip to the gym.

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