Midwest Salt Shortage, 2018-19 (part 1)
Snow & Ice Management contractors across the Midwest are facing both supply and pricing challenges as they prepare their bulk road salt stockpiles for the upcoming season.
Our upcoming salt shortage has been caused by a handful of factors outside of any contractor's control:
- Compass Minerals' mine in Goderich, Ontario was on strike for almost 3 full months this summer.
- Cargill's Cleveland, Ohio (under Lake Erie) mine has suffered from a water leak which has caused them to reduce their productivity levels from previous years.
(read more here: https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/cleveland-salt-mine-attributes-salt-shortage-to-water-leak-winter-storms)
- Municipalities have gone on a buying spree to replenish depleted salt stores.
At Wise Landscaping, we have two main responsibilities to our clients; provide excellent service no matter the hurdles we face, and be up front in our communications with the people we work for. With wholesale salt prices increasing almost 50% in the last 4 months and some vendors "shutting out" contractors from purchasing bulk salt, our team knew we had to move quickly to head off these issues before the snow starts flying to ensure we can consistently meet our customer's needs - no matter how tough Winter 2018-2019 shapes up to be.
Here's what done so far to make the upcoming winter go as smoothly as possible:
1) We've increased our on-site salt storage capability by about 3x. This has allowed Wise Landscaping to take delivery of hundreds of tons of salt already, protecting us from the possibility of being locked out of future deliveries from suppliers.
2) We've pre-bought an adequate tonnage of salt to see us through the winter. In years past, our team stored enough salt on-site to allow for all of our properties to receive 3 salt applications. This was more than sufficient, because an extra 200 ton of salt was never more than a phone call away. This year, relying on just-in-time material ordering isn't a guaranteed strategy like in years past.
3) We've increased the number of suppliers we purchase bulk salt from to gain supply security in the form of diversification.
4) We've doubled down on our liquid deicing abilities, increasing our manufacturing, storage and application capacity for both Sodium Chloride brine (dissolved salt) and liquid Calcium Chloride, an additive used to make brine effective at very low temperatures.
5) We've installed pre-wet systems on all of our salt trucks to help reduce salt "bounce" away from its intended landing area during application.
6) We've invested in upgraded business management software to better track usage patterns. This data can be used to identify training needs in order to ensure our operators are applying enough salt to effectively deice surfaces without over-applying, which can have negative environmental and cost impacts
The Wise Team has a great level of responsibility to our clients, their patrons and residents, and the environment. We believe it is our duty to do everything in our power to ensure the winter of 2018-2019 goes smoothly for everyone.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager.
Thank you for your understanding.