After a mild winter last season, the storm that dumped as much as 8 inches of snow in some areas last week stirred hopes of a bountiful winter among some snowplow operators.
Patrick Daoust, a Charlton snowplow operator who is contracted by the state to clear Routes 9 and 20 in Worcester, admitted he hopes it snows more often this winter. His company recently advertised for two plow operators after losing workers last year because they found other things to do.
However, some snowplow operators said they survived last year on seasonal contracts, which allowed them to get paid regardless of the amount of snow.
"I've been doing it so long that I have a good mix of commercial and residential (customers)," said Gary Alia of Lawns & Landscape Co. in Leominster, which has contracts with businesses such as Wal-Mart and Kmart. "I would say about 85 percent of my commercial is a seasonal contract where I get paid no matter what."
The National Weather Service said 39.7 inches of snow fell on Worcester Regional Airport during the entire winter last year, well below normal. That number includes the 14.6 from a nor'easter that hit Oct. 29-30, 2011.
The benefit of a guaranteed contract to the customer, Christy said, is that budgets don't get avalanched when it snows frequently, as it did two winters ago, when snow caved in rooftops across the state. Christy is bracing for a normal winter this year of about 60 to 70 inches of snow, for which his company will head out to plow about 12 to 15 times, and go out up to 40 times to take care of sidewalks and scrape, salt and otherwise protect customers from slippery, freezing conditions.
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