SANTA FE (AP) Little precipitation makes a dry season for snow-removal companies throughout the New Mexicos capital, but most business owners rely on alternative services to get them through the winters.
Consider AE Snow Removal, which shifts employees to snow removal from its partner company in construction, Insulite Skylights.
The other business is based on construction, so when it snows, the construction stops, and vice versa, manager Erik Apodoca said.
He said that business has been decent this year in spite of the decreased snowfall.
That switch, however, requires more than just transferring personnel from a construction site to a truck. Apodoca said that different insurance, pay rates and other clerical concerns must also be undertaken.
And he added that the biggest concern isnt on waiting for the snow, but finding people available to operate the trucks in 10- to 12-hour shifts at a moments notice. Apodoca added that he also has men who do hand-shoveling for sidewalks and similar areas inaccessible by machinery.
AE Snow Removal runs eight trucks with blades and salt graders. A blade costs $6,000 and a salt grader runs $5,000. Most of his business comes from contracts, which means businesses around the city can expect Apodocas crew to show up at the first signs of snow.
The crews work in twos, and usually start by 2 or 3 a.m. across the city. Apodoca said he does noncontract labor as well, but call-ins can expect a 30- to 45-minute wait before someone arrives.
Other companies such as Southwest Pavement and Maintenance and Solscapes have similar wait times for call-in services.
I try to take care of contracted businesses, Southwests Robert Martinez said. We try to be loyal to our customers first.
Martinez said that just because it snows doesnt mean his plows go out. Often, he said, people will just let the snow melt, and customers generally wont call until 2 inches or more accumulate. This season, he said, has been dry.
He added that he doesnt go door-to-door seeking out jobs, and instead will let people reach out to him when his services are needed.
Martinez, though, is used to dry seasons as Southwest has been in business for 45 years. He added that he tries to save some funds during the summer in case of dry winters.
Martinez added that his truck has almost fallen down steep embankments while plowing, but that doesnt deter him.
It can be dangerous, he said. But hell, so can getting out of your bathtub.
Solscapes owner Zandra Werenko said she has contracts as well, but that most people arent eager to sign on, especially given the sporadic weather in the past year. She does more plowing on the north side of town, she said.
Werenko offers similar plowing services, and she added that she specifically uses a salt that is less abrasive to plants and animals. It does cost more, but because it snows infrequently in Santa Fe, the costs level out.
She said she also supplements the dry season with seasonal plant care, such as hand-watering evergreens, and pest control, which also comes later in the year with dry winters.
And while business has been slow all around, Martinez said the potential for snowier months remains, though the whole season could be a dud.
Its hit-and-miss with this sort of thing, he said.