COVID-19 labor shortages impacting snow-removal industry

Storm preps were in full swing on Thursday ahead of a winter nor’easter that is expected to dump several inches of snow in New Jersey on Saturday.
Many of those who keep New Jersey’s streets and sidewalks safe and clear now also have new COVID-19-related challenges.
Kevin Macken owns a landscaping and snow removal company in Essex County.
“We have to fill up the trucks. We have to check plows to make sure they’re working and that we have enough hydraulic fluid,” Macken says.
Macken’s company does snow and ice removal for about 15 commercial properties in the western Essex County area, including at St. Katherine of Sienna in Cedar Grove. With piles of snow still on the ground from the last winter storm, Macken says he is waiting for a better idea of how much he will have to handle for this weekend’s storm.
“We’ve heard anywhere from 2 inches to 20 inches. So we don’t know what’s to come,” he says.
Another challenge this year is COVID-related labor shortages.
“Everyone knows this year it’s been rather tough finding labor. A lot of people don’t want to come out and work in these conditions. So, we’ve reinvested into equipment this year,” Macken says.
One of those investments is a piece of equipment that is a snowplow/street sweeper/snowblower for sidewalks.
“It can do the work of four or five laborers, as opposed to finding five extra guys every storm,” Macken says.
It had a hefty price tag, but Macken says it will save him time and money in the long run. It will also make it a bit easier to work out in the cold.