Two young entrepreneurs hope to change the way Sudbury residents clear their driveways during the winter season.
Taylor Marshall and Simon Graham launched a new business called Snowsquad this winter, that uses an approach for residential snow removal they say has not yet been used in Northern Ontario.
Instead of using snow plows to clear residential driveways, they've equipped five John Deere agricultural tractors with inverted snowblowers.
“It's a common piece of machinery used in Ottawa and Montreal,” said Marshall, a recent 40 Under Forty award recipient for his lawn maintenance and care companies Marshall Yardworks and Weed Man Canada Sudbury Lawn Care.
The snowblowers are equipped with Teflon edges to avoid damaging people's driveways, and are able to spread snow evenly across a resident's front lawn, rather than create high snowbanks near the edges of the driveway.
Marshall said it took his crews five to six minutes to clear an average driveway at the start of the season, but they've gotten down to two or three minutes with more practice.
“We want to get down to a minute and 30 seconds for a standard-sized driveway,” he said.
His business partner, Graham, said expanding to snow removal seemed like a natural move.
“We were operating about seven to eight months of the year,” he said, referring to the yard work companies.
This season's slow start to the winter was scary for the new company, Graham said, because they had invested a lot of money to purchase five tractors and two snow plows they use to service commercial parking lots.
But a few large snow storms set their anxiety at ease.
Graham said they employ around 10 people during a typical snowfall, and now have around 270 residential customers.
When two inches of snow or more fall, they do a pass in the morning for all their customers, and do a second pass later in the day to touch-up and clear any snowbanks from city plows.
Service for the season starts at $425, or customers can pay a monthly fee starting at $80 a month.
Graham said they have potential to expand, but want it to happen gradually, so their current customers don't see any service disruptions.
For more information about Snowsquad visit their website.