by Brianna Crandall — April 3, 2017 — On the heels of the biggest winter storm to hit the East Coast, the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) released a research report that gives some insight into the industry and its providers, as well as new technology trends that could enhance snow and ice removal and shift business more towards private suppliers.
The report indicates that clearing snow and ice (S&I) under private contract is estimated to be a $16.8 billion industry. Not surprisingly, the two factors driving the S&I industry are weather and the overall economy.
Martin B. Tirado, executive director of SIMA, noted:
While most people are ready for spring and dread a snowstorm in mid-March, snow and ice contractors rely on providing winter weather services as a business that creates jobs and boosts the economy.
It is estimated that 110,000 workers comprise the privatized snow and ice industry and of these, 88,000 are sole practitioners. The average operator has been in business 15.4 years and about 1/3 have more than 20 years of experience. According to Tirado, that matches with the data on SIMA members.
The private S&I industry has been growing 3.8% annually, and is expected to continue growing at 3.2% through 2019, which is slightly faster than growth of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.5% per year.
New technology trends
New technology trends such as the use of drones, robots that remove snow as it starts falling, and solar technology that prevents roads from freezing are expected to bring about changes in the S&I industry and may increase the growth of the privatized sector.
According to SIMA’s research, the residential market captures the majority of the private snow removal business (34%), followed by retail (27%), and industrial (26%). States with the most snowplowing business include New York, Illinois, Michigan, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
The total snowplowing industry employs more than 260,000 workers. Almost 1.3 million workers comprise the grounds maintenance workers — a larger group that includes many who remove snow and ice — according to SIMA’s research.