Contractors target cold-weather work

Meteorological consultant taken on by Ground Control to help its clients plan future workloads.

Spreaders: BLEC Global has increased sales following harsh winters
Spreaders: BLEC Global has increased sales following harsh winters

With some meteorologists forecasting a long, harsh winter, contractors are aiming to turn snow and ice into additional income.

Ground Control started training staff in a Lantra-approved cold weather maintenance course over the past month. National group training manager Neil Huck said: "It develops more business and gives our clients confidence that we are qualified to do it."

The company has also contracted a meteorological firm to provide tailored weather forecasts for areas where it holds contracts. Clients do not want to wait until conditions become dangerous, said Huck. They expect preventive gritting when the temperature drops to a certain point, something that is bringing more business Ground Control's way.

Huck added: "We can tell our clients what will be happening in a week's time. It allows us to gear up for gritting at the right time and deal with it. We provide a service right through from gritting to snow shifting."

Nurture Landscapes has deliberately targeted companies with strong snow-clearance and gritting offerings, acquiring landscape contractors Greenability and Landcare since August.

Managing director Peter Fane said there is "a massive market out there" and he is looking to grow that side of the business by £1m annually over the next few years.

Barton Grange has been in the snow and grit business for nearly 20 years and managing director Peter Topping said it is an aspect of the company's work that goes down well with clients.

"We've very busy at the moment," he added. "The market certainly has grown over the past five years but I'm not sure whether it's growing any more - it's levelling out. But clients are getting more concerned about health and safety."

Salt stockpiled: Councils prepare for winter

Local authorities are stockpiling 1.3 million tonnes more salt than last year, according to a Local Government Association survey, with 95 per cent of councils increasing or maintaining salt provisions this winter.

BLEC Global has also seen an increase in sales of salt, sand and grit spreaders. It reported a 60 per cent rise on this time last year. Managing director Gary Mumby said: "Because of the last three years of being caught out by hard winter weather, more clients are ordering our salt and sand spreaders, with golf clubs with long driveways, football clubs with large car parks and councils our main customers."

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