By Lauren Wanko
Freezing temperatures, dangerous driving conditions and loads to shovel. For most of us, a snow storm doesn’t bring the same excitement it did when we were kids, but it’s a good day for businesses who depend on it.
When asked if he looks forward to snow storms and hopes for blizzards, President and owner of Giejda Landscape Contractors Inc. Mark Giejda said, “Yes, the more snow we get the better we are.”
Giejda Landscape Contractors has five plows and six loaders clearing out a hospital parking lot. The crew expects to be on this job until tomorrow afternoon.
“Parking is a commodity at all hospitals. They’re very busy so we cannot lose any parking at any of the hospitals,” Giejda said.
During the long, cold winter, the landscaping part of the business shuts down.
“It keeps our company going in the winter time. We have the equipment and it supplements our income and it’s a good income,” said Giejda.
Depending on the season, snow removal can account for 30 percent of Giejda’s yearly business.
When asked where he stands this year so far, he said, “We’re probably in the 20 percent range right now — 20 to 25 percent of our business.”
Giejda hires about 30 seasonal workers every winter.
“I found some gentlemen that have landscape businesses that have come and helped me in the winter because they don’t do snow and they’re glad to get the extra work and the extra money so their company is shut down so they come to work for us and we keep them employed all year round. It’s a win-win situation for a lot of people out here,” he said.
When the snow plow drivers can finally grab a bite to eat, Pete and Elda’s Carmen’s Pizzeria hopes they head to their restaurant. It’s open today.
When asked how business typically is during snow storms, Manager Richard Maher said, “You know, it’s hit or miss. You get a lot of the guys that are out busting their rear ends trying to keep it clean and all that and they come in and need a place to eat so we try to be here for them.”
This morning, the staff was in setting up for lunch. Maher says they’ll only close if conditions continue to worsen throughout the day. If the roads clear up, customers make the trip.
“A lot of schools are closed around here, a lot of parents working. They’ll ship their kids down to have a little bite to eat because they know we’re open,” Maher said.
Around the corner at Michael’s Motorcars, a blanket of snow covers everything on the lot.
“It just cripples everything,” said Technician Bill Kret.
There are about 120 cars on the lot. When snow hits, employees move as many as possible inside the garage, the rest toward a building. That leaves an area to plow. When that is clear they move the cars back so they can plow the rest of the lot.
“Very stressful. Nineteen years I’ve been here, every storm we have to do it. It’s about 10 hours of moving and shaking just to get them in this position and another 10 hours to clean the lot,” said President and owner Michael Graubart.
Since snow’s hammered the coast over the past two winters, Kret’s noticed more customers are looking for a certain type of car.
“More people are looking for all wheel drive cars. Not too many people want a truck or four by four because of the gas prices. People still think they need to go out in the snow,” he said.
But unfortunately for car sales, customers don’t appear to be out shopping in the snow.
“It’s not good for business, snowing, no,” Graubart said.
As for Giejda Landscape Contractors, they typically start landscaping in early March. Not this year. Instead of planting, they’ll keep on plowing.