A lack of snow this winter has allowed some area landscaping and lawn care businesses to get a jump on their spring work.
Like others, Adler’s Landscape Nursery Inc., Altoona, has been busy getting things done, since there hasn’t been a lot of snow.
“We have been busy doing cleanup work. It has been good to get a head start on cleanup jobs,” President Jeff Adler said.
However, the lack of snow has not been good for those who perform winter maintenance work such as snow removal.
This has resulted in smaller profits, said Rich Huber, owner of ProLawn Landscaping Co., Altoona. But those conditions permitted an early start on landscaping and maintenance.
The cold temperatures have caused some problems.
The larger small businesses with multiple employees are taking a financial hit from the scarcity of snow, said Joe Beck, owner of Beck’s Maintenance and Landscape Center, Duncansville and Pittsburgh.
“Because of the weather, people were not willing to have projects done because of the cool temperatures, you can’t do planting or concrete work. We weren’t able to do exterior projects even though we have had a mild winter,” Beck said.
High fuel prices and the high cost of materials caused problems last year and remains a concern for area companies.
“Everybody is adding surcharges, and we have to pass some of it on. We don’t know what the surcharge on diesel fuel will be compared to last year. The cost of materials has gone up,” Adler said.
Beck doesn’t plan to increase prices for his customers this year, but others might.
“Some customers will see an increase in prices to compensate for inflation, fuel costs and employee retention,” Huber said.
“Our material costs are up a little, they went up a lot last year. We just roll with it. We have to pass some of it on to our customers. We have had a slight increase in our prices this year,” Mike Foose, franchise owner of Lawn Doctor, Altoona, said.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still being felt by at least one contractor.
Adler’s has had a hard time getting some plants. The demand for evergreens has been high.
“It is hard to get the larger size plants. It will be a couple of years before we can get the larger evergreens again,” Adler said.
Like most other businesses, finding labor remains the biggest challenge.
No contractor can find good help and can’t even find bad help, Beck said.
Foose agrees. “We want quality people, it is getting harder and harder to find them. You used to be able to count on people stopping in to see if you are hiring. You don’t see that any more,” Foose said.
Despite the challenges, local contractors are optimistic about their season.
“I always say Mother Nature deals the cards and we play them. … We take advantage of the good days. I’ve been doing this for a long time, this is my 43rd year, I expect some funky weather,” Foose said.
ProLawn Landscaping has a lot of work lined up with existing customers for routine services and has quite a few projects that workers did not get to last year.
“We have received a lot of inquiries for estimates already this season due to the milder temperatures,” Huber said.
“It looks pretty good, we keep looking for the bottom to fall out. During COVID, people wanted a lot of things done, and it has kept on rolling with no end in sight,” Adler said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.
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