Snowplowers enjoying winter stoms

Clearing an alley in Lancaster, Pa. For landscapers hit hard by recession-vexed clients, snow-removal work is a godsend.

This winter's snowstorms have been a godsend to at least one group of businesses: landscapers who count on snowplowing jobs to get them through the winter.

"It's a definite plus. Hopefully, we get paid for it," Brett Hart, operations manager at Artistic Lawn & Landscaping in Southampton, Burlington County, said yesterday of all the snow-related work.

After two summers of recession, many landscapers are thrilled to have plows mounted on their trucks.

Hart and others said business and residential customers have cut back sharply on landscaping services during the recession. Businesses are thinking: "Why put the flowers in when they only last three months?" said Hart, who has seen banks and other institutions cut back on beautification.

Those same businesses have no such luxury when it comes to snow - it must be moved to let customers in the door.

Sam Linehan, who employs 14 at Cornerstone Lawn & Landscape in Phoenixville, said the big snows were a huge help to landscapers. "Nobody was buying new equipment for the last two years," said Linehan. Now, "everybody is talking about buying new equipment."

Cornerstone, whose business is concentrated on serving townhouse and condominium developments, as well as high-end houses, has been buying 50 tons of bulk salt every third day, Linehan said, and ice melter for sidewalks by the pallet load.

Those purchases spread the economic gain beyond his company, though it is also not lost on him and other landscapers that their gain is a property owner's loss.

The snowstorms could be enough to keep some landscaping businesses alive.

"We're ecstatic about the weather, obviously," said Dave Brosley, who for 10 years has had his own business, Cedar Creek Lawn-Landscape in Levittown.

Brosley, who has a degree in landscape design from Delaware Valley College, was thinking this winter about trying to get a job with a larger firm.

The snow has let him put that thought on hold. "This," he said, "will get me through to the springtime."


Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651