Cedar Rapids-area snow businesses wait for start of season

Irregular climates causing companies to seek out alternative projects

MARION- With a record-setting high temperature of 67 degrees in Cedar Rapids on Monday,  winter is starting off as another trying time for snow-related businesses.

With summer's drought and a fairly snowless winter before that, 2012 has not been good for lawn care and snow removal businesses. Snow blower, shovel and ice melting crystals sales are off to a predictably slow start this season.

In spite of the setbacks of the irregular season, some companies are seeking out alternatives for the problem. At Culver’s Lawn Care and Landscaping in Marion, one plan is if it isn't time to plow snow yet, then keep planting trees.

At Culver’s at least 50 or 60 snow plow blades are lined up on the floor of a garage ready to go on the trucks.  Owner Todd Culver, said the employees who would normally plow out driveways and parking lots are still out doing the landscaping work that would have normally ended by now. And Culver said, from a company perspective, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because landscaping work is more lucrative.

“It’s a better business because you can do it five days a week, rather than once a week or every two weeks (like plowing). So it’s better for us this way,” Culver added.

The weather is allowing Culver to work on projects now that were scheduled for next spring.

Jake Huston, one of the Culver’s employees, said he’d rather stay with landscaping than push snow.

“Yeah, it’s a lot better than the freezing cold,” Huston said.

Other businesses, however, are anxious for the snow season to commence.

Chris Pultz, owner of Country Club Landscaping, has run out of his landscaping jobs for the year.

The dry summer triggered layoffs at Pultz business, which now employs one other person.

Pultz said he tries to keep expenses low and look at other opportunities if it doesn’t snow as much as normal.

“If it snows, it’s there. If it doesn’t, it’s unfortunate. I try not to rely on the snow 100 percent for jobs—obviously,” Pultz said.

As for snow blowers, one store owner said a few people bought early. In the meantime, consumers will more than likely wait.

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