In warmer months, Anderson Landscaping employee Stan Burnham of Pownal busies himself with a trowel and a spade. In winter, he trades those implements in for a shovel and a blade.

Burnham directs the flow for the landscaping business’ snow-removal services for commercial and residential properties in North Yarmouth, Yarmouth, Cumberland, Falmouth and Pownal. 

Q: Can you tell me a bit about the business?

A: Yes. We are a four-season operation. We do landscaping, hardscaping, excavation and site work for homes, like digging holes to install foundations or septic systems and putting in driveways. 

Q: How many workers does the company employ?

A: About 15 right now. But that numbers doubles in the summer.

Q: What’s your title? 

A: I am the manager or chief of operations for Anderson Landscaping’s snowplowing division for commercial and residential accounts.

Q: What does that job entail? 

A: I negotiate all the contracts for driveway plowing, pricing and estimating. I oversee a crew of about eight (plowmen) who also do other jobs for the landscaping company when they are not needed for plowing. I’m also a mechanic and am responsible for making sure that our plowing equipment is up and running right. 

Q: So, your customers are set up on a contract where they don’t have to call you every time they need their yard plowed?

A: Yes. 

Q: How much do you charge for each plowing job?

A: We have a set base price of a minimum of $30 per driveway (per storm). The contract is based on how many inches of snow we have to plow and if we have to make more than one trip to the home to clean up during a big storm. I meet with new clients in advance to draw up a contract and list any preferences they may have, things we need to avoid plowing over in the yard like, “please keep snow to the right” or “please don’t plow over my rhododendrons.” We also list what time they need to be cleaned out by in order to get to work on time. Each driver has a specific list of customers whose driveways he plows, including their address, phone number and notes detailing those preferences. 

Q: Do customers pay you on the day your crews do snow removal?

A: No. We send the bills out at the end of each month.

Q: How long have you been plowing?

A: Twenty-six years. I used to own my own business doing commercial plowing and lawn care in the Freeport area. And, I’m still in the firewood business on weekends; I cut and deliver it. 

Q: How do you juggle plowing duties with your daily workload?

A: The storm dictates when we plow. I always start my morning with a coffee and a look at the weather forecast from at least three sources showing national and local weather updates. Some days I can plan ahead, but with squalls like the one we had (Dec. 19), it’s hard to predict. I put in a regular day that day, helping to put cement posts in for a new home being built and then had to go out plowing until 9:30 p.m. If it’s an overnight storm, I like to be out there plowing by 3 a.m. to make sure our customers are dug out for work the next morning. 

Q: What is the longest stretch you have ever been out plowing?

A: Three days. When I owned my own company, I had to travel from Freeport to Portland to service customers and had 27 miles of sidewalks to clear. 

Q: Do you use your own personal truck for the work?

A: No. These are all company trucks. And, we’ve got a big fleet. Most of them are 1-tons and we’ve also got a big front loader for doing parking lots and places that need snow removal. We also do sidewalks or walkways for (customers who own condos), snow blowing or scraping them and sanding them. 

Q: Ever get frazzled being out there in severe weather?

A: No. I’ve been doing this for so long. I could be in a white out and still remain calm. I live by the motto: “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” I always carry water, a flashlight, my Alaskan parka, a cell phone and a chain saw with me just in case I get stuck or run into a downed trees in the roadway. 

Q: What tips can you give homeowners in helping you do your job more effectively?

A: Move the vehicle out of the (area to be plowed) so that we don’t have to come back. Otherwise, we’ll have to work around it. Most of our customers know to park in their garage but some don’t. Also, stake your driveway, keeping them back 12 inches from pavement, and make sure your plow person knows that. And, don’t be afraid to sand the driveway; a lot of people don’t and it becomes an ice rink for the plow guy, who could also plow into your garage. Most people can get the sand for free at their town garage.