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Diversifying Into a New Service: Our Snow Removal Adventure

As building service contractors, we have the great privilege of being able to expand our business into a variety of new services. The opportunity for BSCs to grow and diversify is limitless. Commercial buildings is an excellent arena for a service business to make itself an invaluable asset to the facilities it services.

For some companies, adding a new service is a carefully planned move. Bee Line had a slightly different experience when it came to our snow-removal adventure. We provided a range of services to a property management company whose business we valued tremendously.

One morning, I was called to the property manager’s office. A gentleman by the name of Mr. Lambert was in charge of all our services. The conversation went something like this.

“Sit down.” (He had this way about him). “I want your company to do my snow plowing.”

At that point, I informed him that we did not have the equipment nor did we provide the service.

“Perhaps you did not understand me: Your company will provide our snowplowing this year [2004].” He also needed an estimate right away. For this, we requested a quote from a rival snowplowing company and matched their price.

Somewhat hesitantly, I gave the approval to purchase one new Chevy 2500 HD pick-up truck with an eight-foot Western Pro Plow. Additionally, the Ford F150 truck I was driving at the time got a new plow mounted on the front and a salt spreader on the back.

Our entire team was anxious for the first snowfall. To add to our anxiety, the landlord did not allow bulk salt delivery on his property. As a result of this policy, we had to use 50- and 80-lb. bags of salt for 20 acres of parking lot.

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Some of the questions we had included when to salt and how much salt to put down. Basically, we were not sleeping for the first few weeks of winter. Mr. Lambert frequently used the term “snow-tucking,” which meant he needed the snow to look groomed after we plowed. There was zero tolerance for sloppiness; we used our sidewalk shoveling crews to groom the snow banks with shovels after the trucks plowed.

Our good friends at The Weather Channel were also not very accurate at predicting snowfall, which made our logistics even more attention grabbing.

One especially memorable incident was when an unsuspecting newspaper delivery man received the surprise of his life: One of our drivers hit the side of his vehicle at full plowing speed one Friday morning. Fortunately for all parties, the correct insurance was obtained by our company to cover all damages. The delivery person was shaken up but had no known injuries.

Then the blizzards in January 2005 hit Chicago. Life was about to get tough. In January 2006, we had more than 18 inches of snow and ice. The way our complexes are designed, we had nowhere to store the snow. On one day alone, we received more than eight inches of snow. Pick-up trucks were not enough to remove all the snow. Equipment was nearly impossible to obtain due to the high demand. Fortunately we were able to rent a few Bobcat machines from a remote dealer to remove and stack the snow.

We stopped plowing snow in 2008 due to a new property manager taking the place of Mr. Lambert and have not plowed since. Snow plowing was a lucrative venture, but our experience led us to the conclusion that it was not worth expanding this service due to either the timing and logistics required for this type of venture.



Andre Van Vuren is the owner of Bee Line Building Service and Supply in Elk Grove Village, IL and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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