The Write Stuff

New author Mike Voories shares some tips on how to put pen to paper for your next industry bestseller.

Generate success in snow and ice management and over time you begin to gather some valuable institutional knowledge on what works and leads to repeated success. Additionally, this usually involves trying new things, applying out-of-the-box concepts or thinking, or solving persistent problems from an entirely fresh angle.

And with success and experience, many times industry professionals gather enough confidence to share those experiences with their industry colleagues, because as it’s often said, “rising tides lift all boats.” What’s good for many only makes the industry stronger.

Snow Magazine Contributing Editor and Brilar COO Mike Voories recently debuted his new book, Complain Or Complete: Creating an unfair advantage in a tough labor market. (CLICK HERE  to order a print or Kindle version from Amazon). Already a prolific content provider, blogger and podcaster, Mike says his inspiration stemmed from how challenging the labor market has been for snow and ice professionals. In his own journey to address this issue as Brilar’s COO, he learned focusing on how to position his company to compete for the best team possible gave Brilar an edge in the markets it serves.

Mike Voories

“There’s plenty of people out there,” he says. “It’s just a matter of working harder then we’re used to at being more appealing to job seekers. Give them a job they want to do and your company will be better for it.”

Interested in sharing your knowledge with the snow and ice management community? Mike shares a couple of tips for aspiring writers looking to put their pens to paper.

Just Get Started. “Too many days get wasted Googling ideas on the Internet or researching a topic. There comes a point where you just need to sit down and get started.”

Commit. “Commit to writing that first page. Then, write the first chapter. Then commit yourself to writing 500 words a day or whatever works best for you.”

Rely On Your Experience. “Remember, we all have something to offer. It’ll all come together [in the end] and it doesn’t have to be perfect. If it helps a handful of people, then it’s worth the time and effort.”

Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine.




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The Odd File

What's In A Name?

The Minnesota Department of Transportation recently held a contest to name individual plows in their eight district fleets. More than 122,000 people submitted their favorite names. Here are some of the top names that will be emblazoned on MDOT plow blades next winter.

  • Plow Bunyan
  • Darth Blader
  • Plowy McPlowFace
  • Snowbi Wan Kenobi
  • F. Salt Fitzgerald

I'm impressed two Star Wars-related names made the final cut. If you have any unique names for your plows, let me know by emailing me at mzawacki@gie.net.




ASCA Legal Counsel Josh Ferguson Receives Accolade

Attorney receives recognition for for his work advocating for children in crisis.
Ferguson

Congrats goes out to ASCA legal counsel Joshua Ferguson for being recognized as a 2021 Distinguished Advocate for Children by the Support Center for Child Advocates.

The Support Center for Child Advocates is the nation’s oldest and largest program dedicated exclusively to providing pro bono legal services for children in crisis. It teams volunteer attorneys with staff social workers and consulting lawyers to coordinate legal and social service advocacy for child victims of abuse and neglect in Philadelphia. The goal is to secure a permanent and nurturing environment for every child.

Josh is a Partner and Co-chair of the Philadelphia office of Freeman, Mathis and Gary. He is a highly experienced attorney with an array of experience in high exposure tort, employment and professional liability cases.

His tort and catastrophic loss practice includes defense of premises liability, transportation, product liability, toxic and mass tort claims.

Josh serves as general counsel for a wide variety of businesses, including those in the construction, snow and ice management, power sweeping, landscaping, and property management industries. He regularly advises clients on pending legislation at the Federal and State levels. Josh has drafted legislation on behalf of various industries including the ASCA, and has been asked to speak in Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania before House Committees.

Kudos on the accolade, Josh, and keep up the good work.




Next Gen Deicers

In search of a safe and effective alternative to rock salt, researchers believe the animal world can inspire innovations in ice mitigation products.

For decades, rock salt has been the main tool snow fighters employ to manage and mitigate ice buildup on pavement surfaces. It’s ideal because rock salt is relatively cheap and – with a little heat and moisture – it’s highly effective.

However, rock salt has been generating headlines lately for its negative impact on the environment. Most notably, rock salt has been linked to rising salinity levels in freshwater bodies, which poses a risk to aquatic inhabitants. As a result, the race is on to find more a next-generation deicer that is environmentally conscious, yet cost-effective. In addition to integrating brine to reduce salt use in ice mitigation practices, researchers and industry innovators have sought more unique alternatives, such as beet juice, fermentation castoffs, and exotic compounds.

However, scientists now are taking cues from the animal world. Researchers have known insects and spiders native to Alaska create antifreeze proteins that lower the freezing point of water by a few degrees and allows them to survive frigid temps. Similarly, some fish create similar antifreeze proteins that prohibits their blood from freezing in extreme climates.

Unfortunately, outside the body these antifreeze proteins break down quickly, making them ineffective and impractical for snow and ice management.

However, researchers at the University of Denver recently reported they’re working on a synthetic version of these antifreeze proteins known as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). According to the researchers, PVA is a simple, inexpensive compound that is nontoxic to humans and aquatic life. In fact, it’s found in everyday personal care products. It also doesn’t degrade quickly, which makes it more practical as a spray-on ice mitigation tool or as a coating to other deicing substance.

To make it applicable for snow and ice management, though, research must first engineer PVA to be more like the antifreeze proteins utilized in the animals that endure in extremely cold habitats. No timetable was given for when this next generation ice mitigation product will be ready for testing or available to the commercial snow and ice industry.

CLICK HERE to read the original article and to learn more about the science behind this ice mitigation concept.




Toro Acquires Left Hand Robotics

Move adds automated snow removal and turf care technology to Toro’s tech inventory.

Toro is getting further into the robotics business with its early March acquisition of Left Hand Robotics and its proprietary SnowBot tech.

Toro declined to release detailed terms of the Left Hand Robotics acquisition. However, what we do know is that Left Hand has been at the forefront of robotic, AI-controlled mowers and snow removal technology for professional landscape and snow management contractors.

Based in Longmont, Colo., Left Hand Robotics is recognized for developing innovative autonomous solutions for turf and snow management. Its patent-pending software and advanced technologies for autonomous navigation are designed to provide professional contractors and grounds managers with future solutions to improve their operational efficiency and tackle outdoor tasks with precision.

In fact, it’s been reported that self-operating units have been in the field in test phases with professional contractors. I last talked to Left Hand Robotics founder and CEO Terry Olkin in early 2020. At the time, Olkin discussed the importance of developing SnowBot into a tool with year-round application.

Olkin said a mowing deck could be added allowing for SnowBot to seamlessly turn into a MowBot for year-round use.“Robotic mowers are a little bit more understood and accepted, and for whatever reason there isn’t much “Will it work? Won’t it work?” Olkin added. “Snow is a lot tougher environment.”

While terms of the deal were not revealed, it’s easy to see how this acquisition is a win-win for both parties. For Olkin and his team at Left Hand Robotics, they can tap into the immense financial and technological resources of a multi-billion-dollar company. For Toro, the acquisition further compliments it’s strategic market position in both markets. Take snow and ice management, for example, the SnowBot is a nice addition to the equipment offerings provided by other recent acquisitions like Ventrac and BOSS Snowplows, as well as its own line of snowfighting tools serving professional and consumer customers.

For more insight behind Left Hand Robotics and the SnowBot, CLICK HERE to check out an interview with Terry Olkin on The Snow Magazine Podcast.