Snow brings rare work for struggling snow removal businesses

Trucks like this one from BREC Lawn Services L.L.C. have been largely unused this season

Howard Heilig looks out at his truck, outfitted with plow and salt dispenser.

"It's depressing," he says, "there is no money to be made." But his attitude is positive. "It is what it is the consumers are enjoying it so there's nothing you can do about it."

Tuesday's snow is expected to add only about 1-2" in Genesee County to the 13.6" that has fallen already this season.

That is 8" below average for this time of year and 8" less than at this time last year, and that was before the record breaking February that brought two monster snowstorms to Mid-Michigan.

Heilig says the average small business spends about $2,500 to $3,000 in an average year on snow removal. This year, they've spent a fraction of that. Also affected, the people who work for him. Howard has an army of sub-contractors with trucks that he calls upon in winter storm situations.

"They wanna work, they're not making any money but everyone is going through hard times with the economy so what are you gonna do? You can't change mother nature," says Heilig. He says about half of his business is lawn service in the summer months and that part fluctuates much less, so the only way to make up the losses? A big time finish to this winter season. He says the best snows are 2-3", just enough to plow but not so much that it bogs them down. 2 of those every week until the middle of April he says, With temperatures expected to rise again this coming weekend, the short term forecast doesn't make that seem likely.