Plow Drivers Enjoying Banner Year

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(Host) It’s not just the ski industry that’s benefiting from all the snow this winter.  

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, both small- and large-scale plow drivers that get rid of all the snow are enjoying a banner year.

(Keck) Fabian Earth Moving, based in West Rutland, operates 14 plow trucks and three bucket loaders.

(sound of plow)

(Keck) Owner John Center says this winter, his drivers have been working those trucks nonstop.

(Center) "We service over 100 commercial accounts. And many of them are 24 hours. There’s  gas stations, nursing homes, motels, there are these types of things – that are 24-hour operations. So you just can’t let up at 5 o’clock.  You gotta stay on them basically 24 hours a day. And it’s just been that kind of a winter."

(Keck) As opposed to last winter when, he says, they only plowed once or twice the entire month of February.  This January alone, there were 12 days of snow in Rutland – and many parts of Vermont got even more.

(Center) "The snow is very important to companies like ours. Last year, January being what it was, and February and March were terrible. So our first quarter last year we were starting out in an awful hole. We try to keep our employees working through the winter, snow or no snow.  So it certainly helps the books when there’s snow and we can keep the money flowing."

(Keck) And he says the sheer volume of snow means that when they have a day without a storm, they stay busy moving excess snow to other locations.

(Center) "That’s coming in with the loaders and dump trucks at night and getting all this snow out of these parking lots that can’t handle them.  That’s another revenue boost for us."

(Keck) Just north of Rutland in Chittenden, Tina Casey takes a short break between residential plow jobs.

(Casey) "We work for ourselves – my husband and I, my brother-in-law and father-in-law. We all have a little plowing route on the side."

(Keck) Last year, she says, they billed their clients for about ten plowings the whole winter. This year she says they’re on track to more than double that.

(Casey) "Last year they felt bad for us. And this year they don’t.  It’s been a good year for us. And as long as you keep your truck on the road and keep your plow going – that’s good ."

(Keck) The hard part, says Casey and just about every other plow driver, is dealing with the long hours in the truck. She drinks a lot of coffee she says, while her husband likes Red Bull.

(Casey) "This morning we started probably about 6:30 and we won’t get done until tonight. Got the backhoe going, trying to push some snow banks back up on the mountain. And so that will be after dark – 8 or 9 o’clock. Hopefully we’ll finish things up tonight and take tomorrow night off."

(Keck) "I think I heard that there’s snow in the forecast."

(Casey) "You know you’re right. We’re supposed to get 3 to 8 inches. Yeah, I guess I’ll be working. You just screwed up my day off." (laughing)

(Keck) But Casey says at least there’ll be a paycheck waiting for her at the end.  

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Chittenden.

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