Fall is quickly approaching with the first official day later this month. This means turf renovation, overseeding, and a bit later in the season, it’s the winterization of irrigation and pump systems. In the blink of an eye winter will be upon us. Even though it feels far off, now is the time to get informed and know what’s on the horizon for salt, ice melt, and the snow management season. Preparation is key for success, especially for what’s looking to be a long, tough winter.
Let’s Talk Salt: Shortages & Supply Chain
The industry was plagued with salt shortages last year, specifically with shipping and the supply chain. Salt itself is a very abundant resource but much of the country wasn’t able to get the salt, when it needed it. This was because of a culmination of issues including worker strikes, salt mines closures, and transportation issues with main channels such as the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, and the Illinois Waterway.
One of the major salt mines that delivers to the snowbelt states suffered major shortages from a 12-week worker strike, while another mine in Ohio struggled with replenishing its stock due to a water leak. This is causing landscapers to resort to importing salt supplies from other countries such as Egypt, Chile, and Morocco. Imported salt was not even the best solution due to shortages of shipping vessels. If an imported product was able to make it into a port, many times it was stuck at customs and wasn’t able to get to its final destination in time. Furthermore, transportation costs on the imported salt caused prices to increase substantially.
Next, moving the salt that was already in the USA was a giant challenge. The Illinois Waterway was closed for repairs, causing shipping delays and increased costs. Much of the country experienced a deep freeze which meant frozen waterways. This in turn meant barges were unable to move excess supplies from one region to another that desperately needed it. The Mississippi River also faced major issues because of this extreme deep freeze and heavier than normal snowfall, which caused two-month delays in shipping, plus barge and diesel shortages.
To top that off, many areas of the Midwest and Northeast saw record snow and ice levels—they simply needed more salt than normal or expected. Now, any one of these issues would impact the availability of salt but to have all of these issues happening at once caused major disruptions, chaos, and higher prices.
Solutions: Shortage & Supply Chain
Last year’s season seems like it was full of nothing but doom and gloom. However, Central did not experience any of the shortages much of the country had. We had plenty of product in supply and were able to ship numerous truckloads of ice melt into the Midwest, Northeast, and other regions, when they were not able to get it from anywhere else.
How can that be?
Diverse Network of Leading Manufacturers
We work with a network of multiple manufacturers, including one that owns two salt mines. We do not just rely on one salt supplier or foreign importer. This enables us to be nimble and get you the best pricing possible. If one of our manufacturers is having trouble, we’re able to rely on the others to make up the difference. This means faster delivery, a product guarantee, and consistent pricing.
Dedicated to Salt
Our salt manufacturers are dedicated to salt. What does this mean? They focus on salt 365 days a year. They are worldwide leaders in the industry and have multiple salt origin points to make sure they are always in business. They manufacture salt for use as ice melt, water softener, animal feed, and pool salt. This means they keep producing all year long, unlike companies that have a fertilizer focus and only make ice melt for part of the year. In addition, our partners have committed up to 60% more in raw materials than previous years to make sure the pipeline gets replenished for the 2019-2020 winter season.
150+ Truck Fleet. 48 Branches. 16 States. 2 Countries.
Central has nearly 50 warehouses in 16 states and two countries. A majority of these warehouses are located in the snowbelt or other areas impacted by winter weather. We know the salt and ice melt. Our fleet of 150+ trucks is available for delivery or drop shipment of product in more than 20 state throughout the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Canada. When our customers in the Midwest couldn’t get salt locally from other suppliers, we were able to fulfill their needs quickly, effectively, and affordably.
Product Quality & Guarantee
At Central, we pride ourselves on being a valued partner to our customers. We offer an ice melt early order program that gives cash discounts, extended payment terms, and a guarantee of product and delivery. Furthermore, the qualify of our products are based on innovation and chemically formulated crystals that effectively melt ice and protect the environment.
When it comes to melting ice, there is a melting trifecta to consider: melting temp, melting speed, and melting life. Each of your customers has a different need because of the complexity of their environments and the conditions outside. We understand this and have solutions to fit any budget or any challenge: extreme cold, pre-storm application, fast melting, long-lasting melt, freeze/thaw cycle, environmentally safe, kid and pet friendly, liquid solutions, and more.
When you work with a dedicate partner like Central, you can rest assured that you will have the quality product when and where you need it, at a price that works for your bottom line.
Winter is Coming: The 2019-2020 Season
So, what can you expect for the 2019-2020 season? In terms of cold, snow, and ice; much of the same as last year.
Freezing. Frigid. Frosty. These are the exact terms used in the 2020 Farmers’ Almanac to described the upcoming winter season.
“This winter will be filled with so many ups and downs on the thermometer, it may remind you of a ‘Polar Coaster,'” its website says. According to the Farmers’ Almanac’s winter prediction, the coldest outbreak of the season should arrive during the final week of January and last through the beginning of February.
Now, meteorologists do say that this prediction should be taken with a grain of salt because long-range forecasting is not always accurate. However, it’s always better to be overprepared and ready for a wrench to be thrown into the mix.
What to Expect this Season: Shortages and Supply Chain
Some of the same challenges from last year have yet to be resolved, plus there are a few new ones to keep in mind.
The Illinois Waterway will see a few short closures in 2019 and extended closures in 2020. What this means is we may experience shortages of product in specific regions (mainly the Midwest) again this season.
In May of this year, a port in Chile collapsed damaging a ship and spilling an entire shipment into the ocean. To make matters worse, this was one of only two loaders on site, meaning half of their loading capacity will be out of commission for the next 8 months.
The Mississippi River is still dealing with delays because its usual open was pushed back from March to May of this year. Delays of up to 60 days could mean shortages of barges and diesel (again) this year.
Finally, worker strikes in the Bahamas as well as the damage to most of its islands from Hurricane Dorian (a category 5 hurricane) could impact supply coming in from the Caribbean.
With multiple situations impacting this year’s supply chain for salt, make sure you partner with a distributor that can get you the product when and where you need it. If you partner with Central, we’ll make sure you won’t be left out in the cold this season.
Choosing the right ice melting solution isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. You’re making an important decision that impacts your profitability, your customers’ safety and your potential liability. Central offers a variety of deicing products: rock salt, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, sand/salt mix, liquid deicers, urea, and blended deicing products.
If you have questions about what products make the most sense in your area, reach out to your local Central branch or rep. We have experts on staff to help you find the right solution for your business.
Ice Melt Program
As a dedicated partner, Central helps you grow your sales by keeping costs down with our seasonal, early-order, and commitment programs. Starting in September you can take advantage of our Ice Melt Early Order Program to grow your bottom line with discounts and extended dating. To amplify your success, ask your Central rep or local branch for pricing and more details on the program.
Rely on Central to help, whether it’s questions about specific different types of deicers, melting temperatures and longevity, eco-friendly mixes, or the newest innovative solutions for snow and ice management. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!