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Charles Glossop on Pre-treatment and Brine for Snow and Ice Management

Charles Glossop on Pre-treatment and Brine for Snow and Ice Management

Charles Glossop on Pre-treatment and Brine for Snow and Ice Management

In this interview with Charles Glossop, owner and general manager of Hantho Farms, a snow removal and landscaping company in Rockford, Minnesota, we'll learn all about pre-treatment and the use of brine as an integral part of a snow and ice management plan. Thank you, Charles, for sharing your thoughts with us!

Charles Glossop on Pre-treatment and Brine for Snow and Ice ManagementHeatTrak: Can you share with us briefly your connection to the snow and ice industry?

Charles: My connection started when I was looking to enhance business opportunities in the early 80s. I became interested in being more than a plow jockey, so I was constantly educating myself about industry equipment, chemicals, and how-to’s. I am a founding member of SIMA and a past president and continuing member, as well as an industry consultant to facility managers, airports, and contractors. Today, I also have an actively growing snow business that stands out as a leader in liquids and European salting technology here in Minnesota.

HT: How did pre-treating and brines become such an integral part of your snow and ice management plan?

Charles: We started experimenting with liquids over 25 years ago, using barrels and sump pumps and doing our own blending, making many mistakes along the way. We bought our first commercial brine maker some 12 years ago, but we had been pre-treating and pre-wetting as a regular part of our business plan. Today, we make brine in our own shop facility with multiple storage tanks and custom blends for each storm. We were getting tremendous results—our clients were noticing the difference—and we were reducing the volume of salt applied. Our employees have bought into our use of liquids. It just makes great business and environmental sense.

HT: What assessment of the concrete or pavement is important before deciding on a pre-treatment method?

Charles: We understand pavement temps, we understand how temps vary from concrete to asphalt to bridges to multi-level parking ramps. We look at pavement temps not only at the time of pre-treatment applications, but at what temps are going to be when the event actually arrives. We will either use straight brine or a brine fortified with a calcium on walks, roads, and lots.

HT: Should pre-treatment be built into every snow and ice management plan?

Charles: Great question! My philosophy and best judgement is YES. In many cases, for instance, in a bank location, first treating drive lanes provides a huge benefit. At hospitals, handicapped and high-traffic areas, it’s very beneficial. Example: You have pre-treated a property, done 2 days earlier during the contractor's slow time, at night. It snows at 6:00, heavy traffic, rush hour. The great news is, you have a product on the ground working, making it safer. You don’t need to dispatch salt trucks and try to salt around vehicles and people entering and you have the luxury of coming back in with a plow or an additional salting around 9:30, after rush hour.

HT: What mistakes are people making with pre-treatments?

Charles: They don’t understand the difference between pavement and air temps, they don’t understand how brine works, they don’t understand effective temps for brine, they don’t understand application rates specific to each event, the equipment is not calibrated properly, they use the wrong application equipment. To understand liquids is to use liquids. You are going to make mistakes. Observe, monitor, and adjust.

HT: What are the most important elements of choosing a snow contractor for a facility?

Charles: Visit their facility and look at who and what they are doing. Ask for experience. Ask how they staff. Look at their equipment. Ask for references. Have them visit your property and ask them how they would manage your property. The lowest-cost provider is not always the answer. Ask how they handle a blizzard, 12+ feet (3.6 meters) of snow. Ask about salt inventory (in 2013, many contractors ran out of salt).

HT: What is the future of salt use and how should people be planning for the demand for salt reduction?

Charles: Contractors need to use better application equipment where rates and spread widths can be controlled from the cab of the vehicle. They need to monitor every property separately for the volume of salt being used. Pre-treatments are a necessary part of the overall salt-reduction process. For post-application of salt, a pre-wetting program is essential, not only in reducing the volume of salt used, but also in eliminating the salt bounce factor, reducing damage to the landscape with inaccurate or poor application rates. If we, as contractors, don’t take the initiative to reduce salt use without compromising safety, the EPA will regulate our industry. Let’s be proactive. Today, the equipment industry is investing heavily in new application equipment with the intention of allowing contractors to reduce salt use. I believe reducing salt does not mean reducing price.

More about Hantho Farms

At Hantho Farms in Rockford, Minnesota, Charles Glossop and his son Alex provide commercial snow removal and ice management services and commercial and residential landscaping.

Hantho has been producing brine for over 15 years to use in pre-treatment, applying a brine made from calcium and magnesium chloride directly to the roads and parking lots 24-72 hours prior to a snow and ice event to prevent a bond from forming between the pavement and the snow and ice.

How to Choose a Commercial Snow Removal Contractor

How to Choose a Commercial Snow Removal Contractor

How to Choose a Commercial Snow Removal Contractor

Winter is officially upon us, many parts of the country have already been blanketed in snow, and your facility’s commercial snow removal plan has likely gone into effect already--or else is primed to do so at any moment.

We know that often, that plan involves outsourcing snow removal to hired contractors. At this point you’ve likely weighed the pros and cons of hiring a third party vs. using an in-house crew, and decided the extent to which you’ll use a commercial snow removal contractor--whether for all of your facility’s snow and ice needs, just after heavier storms, only in certain areas, etc.

But who should you choose for the job?

When choosing a snow removal contractor, there are several factors to consider.

First of all, be aware of certain liabilities that can arise in such an agreement, and be sure that a given contractor hasn’t caused facilities problems with these issues in the past.

Second, it’s important to understand the pricing structures in place at different contracting companies. Contractors measure price according to the hour, push, season, and/or inch. Make sure that the method standard to the company you hire is up to the standards you need to keep your property clear.

Further, some contractors have costs built into their pricing model that actually benefit your facility, such as back-up equipment and personnel, and safety certification courses. Don’t write off an expensive contractor until you know where that expense is coming from.

Lastly, you want to be sure that your contractor is reliable and trustworthy. You want to be sure that they will be communicating openly and clearly with you throughout the winter, that they are aware of your needs and performance expectations, and have a clear plan to address it.

According to FacilitiesNet, a prepared and responsible snow provider should present you with a communication plan that includes phone calls, onsite visits and updates, and e-mails, all to alert about their plan of action when a snow event occurs, to inform you when their crew will serve your property, and to keep you apprised of changes or issues.

Additionally, FacilitiesNet recommends asking certain questions to your snow removal contractor to ascertain their reliability, experience, and plan for your property:

  • How long has the service provider been in business?
  • Does the service provider carry proper insurance?
  • Does the service provider use contracts?
  • Has the contractor explained prices for services sufficiently?
  • What specific services does the facility require?
  • Does the contract clearly state these services?
  • Can the contractor provide comparable references?
  • Does the contractor have the necessary equipment and employees to manage the site?
  • Does the contractor have detailed plans in place for responding to an event?

If you’re talking to a company that can’t answer these questions, consider it a red flag and look elsewhere. The answers provided, coupled with pricing points and liability considerations, should guide you in choosing the right commercial snow removal contractor for your facility.


Make Sure These 4 Items are in Your Commercial Snow Removal Contract

Make Sure These 4 Items are in Your Commercial Snow Removal Contract

Make Sure These 4 Items are in Your Commercial Snow Removal Contract

Commercial managers appreciate the importance of fast, efficient, and professional snow removal from their premises. Snow build-up causes delays, foot and vehicle traffic build-up, property damage, and pedestrian accidents that could lead to costly lawsuits. Slip and fall accidents are among the most common liabilities that commercial properties have to contend with.

That being said, it is not surprising that companies want their parking lots and walkways cleared of snow and ice as quickly as possible. However, in their haste to get the job done, many managers may have overlooked some important aspects when signing their contracts, and are now paying the cost of shoddy snow removal jobs.

Are you wondering whether you chose well when selecting your snow removal company? Take a look here to see if your contract covers these essential areas:

#1 Insurance

While this may not make a difference to the quality of work being done, proper insurance should be the first thing you check into. This is vital because if any damage is done during the snow removal process (and this is an incredibly common occurrence when removing snow and ice), you want to make sure the service will be covered under adequate insurance to pay for those damages. Large vehicles, hazardous terrains, and sharp equipment can easily cause damage that, without insurance, will quickly accumulate into astronomical bills.

Ask your current snow removal service to show you their insurance policy. Documentation should be easily provided by a legitimate company, along with proof that both workmen’s comp and liability coverage is included. Companies can obtain the proper insurance as well as earn a ranking on the Accredited Snow Contractors Association for safe, timely, quality services provided.

Additionally, tracking services such as GPS will ensure that employees and equipment locations are easily verifiable. Once again, this prevents any questions about liability in case of an accident. Make sure your company tracks both the workers they employ and the vehicles being used throughout the job.

#2 Timing

One of the most important aspects of snow removal is timing. A thorough job done two days after a storm is hardly satisfactory service, and it won’t help keep your facilities running smoothly. The average response time will range between one and three hours. If your guys are taking much longer than this, then your employees, customers, and residents are probably already standing around waiting for mounds of snow to be removed, irritated and disappointed.

#3 Scope of Service

Different companies will provide a range of services for your business, and while not all are imperative, your present snow removal service should cover several of these in order to be considered a comprehensive and worthwhile service. For example:

  • Full facility clearage: Which areas does your company clear? Do they include sidewalks, pathways, and parking lot snow removal? Are entranceways included in their service?
  • Full removal: Where is the snow removed to? Is it a full service, removing the snow from the entire premises? Or do they simply clear the paths and leave large snow banks?
  • Location-specific materials: What type of de-icers and preventative measures are being used? This is a particularly relevant question for businesses that may have a need for more sensitive materials. Businesses with plant life, wildlife, or children in the vicinity will want to double check that none of the materials being used are hazardous. In these situations, industrial heated snow melting mats may be a better option.

#4 Communication

How well does your snow removal service communicate with you? Is their customer service friendly and responsive? How long does it take to get a representative on the phone?

If you can’t get in touch with your snow removal company before the storm, then they certainly won’t be much good to you when the snow starts falling either. Companies should be easy to contact, available for questions, and responsive to your needs.

If your current snow removal company isn’t providing you with the best service possible, then you should start looking into alternative professional commercial snow removal companies before winter starts. This way, you don’t have to settle for an inferior service that will deliver subpar results. Follow these guidelines, and ensure that your commercial property is clean and clear all winter long.