In January, remodeler Frank Burdo’s construction work ground to a halt due to the winter storms that hit his market in Shelton, Conn., dumping several feet of snow. As he removed 2 feet of snow from his own roof and looked around at the ice dams in his neighborhood, Burdo decided that his company would start doing roof snow removal. The owner of Frank Burdo & Son immediately sent an e-mail to his client list. “By the end of the day, I had 16 phone calls,” he says, including past customers and referrals from past customers.
Burdo and his crew got to work right away, purchasing two Bosch Bulldog rotary hammers to help remove thick ice. Though Burdo thought he could reach roofs using a ladder, it was difficult to walk in 2?1/2 feet of snow, much less set up ladders, so he bought a 16-foot scaffold that’s easier to set up and move in snow than the 20- and 24-foot systems he already owned. After he’d cleared one homeowner’s roof, she asked him about installing a new tile floor, new molding, and removing some walls. Offering the new service was already paying off.
With a 9-foot annual snowfall, Flagstaff, Ariz., remodeler Jeff Knorr, president of JKC Inc., often has to clear driveways to reach jobsites. Tired of waiting for the excavating crews he hired to clear his sites, five years ago he purchased a truck and brought the task in-house. Clients soon began calling to see if Knorr’s crews would clear their drives and walkways. In 2010, snow removal brought in $140,000.
JKC now has five trucks that can be fitted with plows. Knorr says he hires his framing sub to shovel and blow snow because “they are used to working outside in adverse conditions.” Effectively removing snow requires plowing or shoveling twice in one location. For larger jobs that require loading snow into trucks, Knorr hires his excavator. “Part of being a general is that we have a good source of labor,” he notes.
Knorr’s office and marketing manager, Debbie Riches, fields phone calls, including on holidays and weekends, and dispatches crews managed by Knorr. He says that remodelers considering offering snow-removal need to understand that unpredictable weather makes for an unpredictable schedule. “I’ve missed two Christmases and a Super Bowl,” he says.
Knorr promotes the service in neighborhood mailers sent out several times a year and includes a contract on his website so clients can sign up during the season. “We make money doing it. We hope that as a form of branding, it helps us.”
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.