Brock Goodman runs his Goodman Snow Services out of a tiny community in central Ohio, but he takes his cues from snow removal companies in much bigger cities like Erie, Pennsylvania, and Boston. He puts such cues at the forefront of his planning, which is why he and his crew were ready — and able – to grapple with an unexpectedly heavy snowstorm in early March 2015.
Places like Erie and Boston get five times the snowfall Cardington does, says Goodman, but that snowstorm still put Goodman Snow Services, which Goodman launched in the winter of 2010-2011, to the test.
“Some people may laugh at what we consider a bad storm here,” he says, but the daytime storm was trying, particularly for an area too far south of the so-called lake effect to qualify as a snow magnet like Cleveland, on the Lake Erie shore.
It had been a fairly mild winter until then, occupying Goodman’s company with a typical task like spreading salt — but pushing little snow. That day was different.
“We had just landed a large contract for a new shopping mall, our biggest contract yet, and we were providing them with excellent service. This morning we had been out on a quick salt run and had all the trucks back in the shop by 8 a.m. They had forecast off-and-on snow showers that day, but nothing was supposed to accumulate.”
Preparing for action nevertheless, Goodman watched the radar fill in the weather screen, and by 10 a.m., one to two inches of snow was falling hourly. “Any snow contractor knows that daytime snows are the worst, but this one was particularly bad for us,” he says. “The shopping mall we had signed for that year was having a special event that day and expecting nearly 10 times its normal number of visitors. This storm lasted until around 6 p.m. that evening and dropped close to 10 inches of the wettest, heaviest snow I have experienced.” With temperatures in the 30s, “the snow was like concrete. We finished getting everything cleaned up around 9 p.m., and then spent most of that night relocating snow piles.”
Between in-house employees and service providers, Goodman Snow Services encompasses 45 to 50 employees and runs around 35 pieces of equipment.
Calling that storm “a true test,” Goodman thinks it caught many of his employees off guard, forcing them to mobilize quickly and clear sidewalks multiple times to accommodate businesses and customers who wanted the situation handled but were otherwise oblivious to a storm’s demands. “To them snow is snow and it doesn’t matter much whether we get one inch or 10 inches,” Goodman says.
He calls the Goodman Snow Services response that day a “feather in our cap.” Many competitors were short-staffed and had already sent their rental equipment back for the season; Goodman’s firm holds onto it until April.
“After this storm we have switched to using dedicated sidewalk equipment instead of hand labor on any site that we can,” Goodman says. “In big snow events, sidewalks are the first place guys get tired and you start seeing service failures. We also make sure that even in late-season storms, all of our sites are fully staffed with equipment, and we have backup equipment for all sites ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice.”