Ask the professional snow removal guy.

I’ve been earning a living for many winters by doing snow removal for people and businesses. My first year in the business it was me, a shovel and 14 places. The next year I made sure I had a good snowblower. Now I have a collection of snowblowers and shovels, from 1 to 3 part time employees depending on conditions, and a list of 60 locations that I service. I don’t have plows so I don’t do parking lots, just sidewalks and driveways.

During warm weather I do lawn and tree work and I’m a licensed commercial pesticide applicator (for trees, turf and ornamental plants only- not rodents, termites or anything else). I want to keep the focus narrow in this thread. Please ask only questions about snow removal, snow blowers, snow shovels and related topics. I’m leery of giving out personal info, and I probably know nothing about the trees and ornamental plants in your area.

If you want to know about starting a business like mine, don’t ask here. PM me and we will work something out.

Little-known fact: things go better if you whistle while you work. The best whistling tune of all time is “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman”. Other good ones are “The Mayberry Theme” and “The Addams Family Theme”.

SDMB always has something new and different…gotta love it!

So, what made you decide to get into the snow removal business?

Did you have any previous jobs, like in a different field?

Is the competition tough, or is there enough work for everyone?

I needed extra money while I was in college. When I was doing job interviews I decided I didn’t want to work for anyone other than myself, and it became clear that job security was a thing of the past. I decided to be my own employer. By the way, I love my boss and I love my job!

I’m an ex-Marine and I was a professional student for 7 years. I started working at the age of 10 doing newspaper delivery.

Competition is intense. I have better tools, I am incredibly efficient and I have an excellent reputation. This gives me a leg up on the competition.

What do you wear to keep your feet warm/dry?

Too bad. I was going to suggest changing your username to “Mr. Plow.”

Depends. On weather conditions, I mean. GoreTex lined hiking boots with hi-tech wick-moisture-away-from-your-skin socks, usually. For deep snow, high rubber boots with the wicking socks and maybe additional wool socks. For really cold conditions I use wicking socks inside of wool socks and heavy waterproof boots which have 3/8 inch wool felt liners. In extremely cold weather I use those little chemical heat packs in the boots (and mittens).

does shoveling snow build character?

what blowers you use. which have you found good and bad?

^ this :slight_smile: I need a snow blower, self-propelled, reliable. What brand?

Where do you store all the snow that you remove? (I assume after several years you must have amassed a great deal)

Are you the legal owner of the snow once you enter into a contract with the previous owner to have it removed, or once it passes into your possession physically? Can you sell it to foreign countries that don’t have snow?

According to Calvin’s Dad snow shoveling is one thing which builds character. It’s commonly said that misery builds character, so if you are miserable while you are shoveling snow, it presumably builds character.

I’m not miserable at work, so it doesn’t work for me as a character builder. What I get from it is exercise and the satisfaction of a job well done. I don’t really do that much actual shoveling. In light snow I use a wide, curved plastic snow pusher and I just push snow off of the cement. When it gets deep enough to necessitate much lifting of the snow it’s time to get a snowblower.

You mention that you are efficient. Can you elaborate on that and how it applies to snow removal?

Is it true that snow is made of water?

Do you get paid a set amount for the season or per the snow clearing?

First let’s clarify terminology. A snow thrower has one horizontally mounted auger to do all the work. A snowblower has two augers- one horizontally mounted to break up the snow and a second much faster-moving auger which blows the snow out of the discharge chute.

Five horsepower is the minimum engine size you should have. No snowthrower will work well in wet snow more then a few inches deep (they get clogged up easily), so if you get a snowthrower you must get out and deal with snow accumulation before it gets too deep if it is wet heavy snow. If you want a unit which will deal with any snow you might encounter, get an 8 or 10 HP snowblower.

Any snowblower made by MTD, the most commonly seen (cheaper) brand, is good. I like my 8HP KMart PowerPro (made by MTD) much better than my 8HP Toro. The MTD has a simpler and more reliable design. Husqvarna and Ariens have good reputations. I once had a Sears Craftsman snowblower and I’ll never have another. Craftsman is known as Crapsman in the lawn and snow industries. Parts are unobtainable for units which are only a few years old.

A snowthrower with a 5HP engine can be adequate. I have a 5HP Honda and a 6HP Honda which get used sometimes. DO NOT get a 2-stroke engine. Four stroke engines have much more power at low to medium RPMs. The wheels on these units are not power driven, but the rubber auger paddles pull the unit along quite nicely.

My favorite tool is the snowblower I can mount on my 20HP Walker ZTR lawn tractor. Twelve thousand dollars would be too much for the average homeowner to pay, though.

Read and follow your owner’s manual. Pay particular attention to what it says regarding preparation for off-season storage.

Btw, a tire iron is the best tool for unclogging a discharge chute.

I don’t move it very far- just enough to get by (and for pedestrians and vehicles to “get by”).

One cannot really “own” snow. It’s just here for our enjoyment on loan from The Heavens.

That’s getting into how to run a business, knowledge which I don’t want to give away too much of. If you want business tips I could be your compensated consultant.

Here’s a freebie: after you become established concentrate on getting new clients who are located conveniently relative to clients you already have.

I do it by the month. I have all clients paying in advance for each month so as to avoid confusion at the end of the season. A client can discontinue whenever, and I know because he/she stops paying. That way I get a dependable income and the client gets dependable service.

No. Snow is made of crystallized H2O molecules. Water is made of melted snow.


Fun Fact: , Montreal does, in fact, physically remove the snow from the streets and sidewalks and stores it’s snow in old rock quarrys, large empty building lots and at an abandoned railroad zone. The entire city gets cleared in an average of 5 days. It does accumulate at the dump sites rather significantly, and after a winter with lots of snow it might take until well into July or August before it all melts away.

Mr. Duality - do you guarantee your clients that snow will be removed in a certain amount of time (12, 24, 48 whatever hours after a snowfall)? How much snow do you let accumulate before you go out to shovel/snowblow? What was the longest day you’ve spent shovelling?