In an average December, Salt Lake City receives a few major storms and twelve inches of snow. Last December, the city got just one tenth of an inch, as much as a typical September and nine times less snow than ever before. Because a large portion of Redmond’s revenue has historically been tied to Ice Slicer and the highway deicing market, many associates have wondered how a December without snow might affect the company.
“We’ve had very little snow here,” said Redmond’s CEO, Rhett Roberts, “but other areas we serve have had some good winter weather.” Colorado’s front range, served by Redmond’s largest partner, Envirotech, has been having a stronger winter than in 2010, which helped fourth quarter deicing revenue and net income remain on par with the past two years.
The company might prefer a steady supply of storms, but a light winter may have unexpected benefits. “The lack of snow relieves stress on our customers’ road salt budget,” said Ice Slicer sales representative Larry Anderson. With more freedom in their budget, Anderson expects customers to experiment with higher Ice Slicer usage to fight storms in early 2012. “With a few good storms yet to come this winter,” he said, “this could turn into a terrific opportunity for Redmond.”
Riding along with plow drivers after a recent Wasatch County storm, Ice Slicer sales representative Jim Besendorfer agreed that application rates were up. “These guys just love using our product,” he said. “It looks like they’re using a lot more per lane mile than they would if their supervisors were on their backs about budget.”
Redmond’s focus on developing diverse businesses, along with a growing base of Ice Slicer customers in and outside of Utah, provides streams of revenue that are less dependent on winter weather. New opportunities in Redmond’s agriculture, equine, and hunting divisions, along with consistent growth from real Salt and Redmond Clay, has provided reliable income even when nature doesn’t provide snow. Light winters actually benefit Best Vinyl, Redmond’s fencing and deck subsidiary, who enjoyed a strong fourth quarter brought on by weather that allowed their crews to keep working late in the year.
Ten years ago, when the majority of Redmond’s revenue came from deicing sales, a warm December would have been a significant challenge. In 2011, with deicing revenue holding steady and significant growth from Redmond’s other divisions, the company is better able to weather the storms — or complete lack of storms — that come its way.