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Getting creative by hauling salt in cement mixers PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 17:41

Determined to make his operation more efficient, owner of Nate’s Landscaping devises new way to transport, store road salt with help of Schmitz Ready Mix

    A unique partnership has been forged between Nate’s Landscape Co. and Schmitz Ready Mix to use cement mixers to haul road salt to the parking lots Nate’s clears.        “We kept thinking how are we going to get more efficient because there are only so many resources you have during a snow event to get people serviced,” Nate Kohn, owner of the Belgium landscaping company, said. “The idea to partner with Schmitz was because they’re definitely not busy during the winter, so maybe we could outsource to them in between snow events.”
    According to Hal Janke, president of sales for Schmitz Ready Mix in Port Washington, the company’s cement trucks are able to haul approximately 40,000 pounds of salt.
    “It gives our trucks an opportunity to drive at a time they would be normally parked,” he said. “When it comes to winter, construction obviously slows down and there’s not nearly as much activity as during the construction season.”
    The salt is stored on site at shopping centers and health care facilities in a QuickCube container, which Kohn developed with BOSS Snowplow from Iron Mountain, Mich. The containers hold 1,000 pounds of salt and allow for the salt spreaders to be refilled at the location they are servicing instead of traveling back and forth for a fresh supply.
    Kohn said his QuickCube containers were released to a limited market last summer and he’s been receiving positive reviews for his innovation.
    “It’s a whole new concept. Some of the feedback we’re getting is that it’s going to be great for the big cities,” he said. “Picture the guys who have to manage snow and ice in New York and Chicago, where trying to get across town can take three hours.”
    Kohn said he came up with the idea for the QuickCube containers when he was figuring out how to simplify his operation and cut some of the business’s overhead costs.
    “It totally eliminates the fixed cost of owning all these trucks and salting equipment,” he said.
    Historically, Kohn would have to dispatch trucks whenever it snowed, from Belgium to Milwaukee, Manitowoc, West Bend, Kiel and Plymouth.
    “It’s challenging to get these trucks on the road during the worst possible conditions and it’s a huge liability,” Kohn said. “So the idea to store salt on site and be prepared for it instead of us always reacting to it made a lot of sense.”
    Kohn said his new mode of operation has eliminated 10 truck routes, which saves on labor, gas, and licensing for the trucks that adds up to more than $700,000 in savings.
    “It really takes the burden off of us not having the extra salt trucks running around because that’s 10 trucks we don’t need to have out during a snow event,” Kohn said.
    He also said the QuickCube containers help save costs by minimizing the amount of wasted salt.
    “In the past, when we send out these salt trucks all over the place, it’s much more likely to over apply the salt,” Kohn said. “When you’re spreading it from a cube, you can control how much salt you want to use.”
    Nate’s Landscape Co. goes through about 2,000 tons of salt each winter, 90% of it transported by the cement trucks — and customers are taking note of the efficiency of the partnership.
    “We’ve got clients from Manitowoc to Menomonee Falls and Butler. They love the fact that we don’t have to load a truck here and drive there to apply the salt, which can take one to two hours for us to get there,” Kohn said. “Now that the salt is on site, we just have to call in our driver who lives in that area to be there within 20 minutes.”
    After being in the business for 18 years, Kohn thinks his QuickCube invention and unconventional use of cement trucks will revolutionize the industry in the next few years.
    “It completely goes against the traditional way of doing this,” he said. “It’s going to take time for contractors to adopt the idea because it’s a new dynamic that changes the function of how they will operate as a business.”

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