By Cheryl Higley
Snow and ice management companies may experience sticker shock as they begin procuring their salt supply for the coming winter. (See related story on supply challenges here).
“This past winter reminds me of how 2007-08 winter ended – only this winter was much worse,” explains Todd Martin, sales manager for WTS Salt. “I would expect pricing to be at least where things were going into 2008-09 or even higher. My guess is that it will be somewhere between 35% to 45% increase this year.”
Lisa Stapleford, vice president of Oceanport, LLC, said she, too, expects higher prices for the private sector given that state/municipal pricing is already 7% to 20% higher than last year.
The higher prices are a direct result of the supply shortages, she said. “These increased costs are stemming from vendors having to out on the open market to procure additional salt, increasing personnel and equipment costs, and vendors having to compete with the summer commodities [asphalt, mulch, etc.] to get their supplies moved.”
Greg MacDonnell, general manager of Occidental Chemical Corp.’s Calcium Chloride Products, said it is important for contractors to know where their suppliers are sourcing material, which can directly impact price and availability.
“Those who source product from offshore sources need to stock heavily before the season starts. If demand spikes, the long lead times mean available inventory may be difficult to replenish.”
Pat Lamanna, senior vice president of Draglam Salt in Ontario expects increases as well but did not provide more specifics. Lamanna encourages contractors to pre-pay for salt to ensure supply and to lock in pricing and also suggests implementing clauses into contracts to better protect snow & ice professionals from price spikes.
“Private snow & ice professionals can also protect themselves by including clauses in their contracts that allow them to pass on increased costs (due to market conditions) to their customers. Clauses can also be included to limit liability for the contractor when deicing products are not readily available in the market.”
Martin said it’s important for private snow contractors to begin lining up their salt sourcing and purchasing – if they haven’t already.
“You will always get lower pricing by paying for salt in the spring and early summer versus waiting until fall to lock in your salt needs. But, hopefully the private sector learned after last winter that there is much more to picking a salt provider than the lowest price on a quote. Service when it counts should over ride lower pricing all the time.”