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Mowers are humming, and flowerbeds are blooming on the Michigan State University campus, but Gerry Dobbs has snow and ice removal on his mind.
“When you’re in this business, you have to plan at least two or three seasons ahead of time,” says Dobbs, Michigan State’s landscape services manager. “I want to make sure that we have a head start on getting the equipment that we need at a price that we need.”
Whether it is tweaking snow and ice plans, maintaining equipment, purchasing anti-icing and deicing chemicals, or training employees, managers know preparing early for snow and ice operations is key to a successful winter.
When snow starts flying and ice begins to form, front-line workers must be able to react and respond. Summer is a good time for workers to familiarize themselves with changing landscapes and hardscape items, as well as new equipment.
“We set up this field-day training that involves everything from how to fuel up properly to how you hook a trailer up properly,” says Dobbs, who employs 50 full-time workers, six supervisors and a handful of seasonal employees to remove snow and ice. “We involved our front-line staff to help develop a station that each person had to go through and had to pass before they could go out here and work.”
Money to replace equipment in facilities is limited more than ever, so managers need to ensure workers can operate equipment properly to extend a unit’s life cycle.
“They don’t even get to learn how to drive the equipment until they understand it and do a pre-trip,” says Mark Selivan, manager of grounds with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “There’s a checklist that you have to look over before you turn that key. Until they can prove to me that they know how to do that correctly, they don’t even get to learn how to use that piece of equipment.”
Snow and Ice Removal: Train Equipment Operators in the Summer