By Greg Stacho
I am sure that at some point you or someone you know has shown up to a job site to find someone has helped themselves to your salt inventory. With higher salt prices and supply shortages, this has become more of a problem. Some contractors are starting to refuse to store salt on-site, which can be costly to your bottom line. Stocking salt inventory on a site or nearby site is essential for production and to avoid windshield time. Pending approval from the client to store on-site, contractors should evaluate their needs and weigh the options for protecting their supply, some of which are more expensive than others.
What are my options?
Sea containers are available for purchase or monthly rental. Most common sizes are 20 and 40 feet. These are fully secure containers for equipment and salt. You can store pallets of bagged product or load bulk into them. A locking door system makes these almost impossible to penetrate.
Construction fencing is a less-expensive option that can be erected by a few workers to contain pallets. The fencing is not covered, so you will need to ensure your product is protected to prevent moisture and/or runoff. These can be placed close to buildings or in the open and can be sized to meet your needs. Fencing comes in hard plastic and metal. A locking gate system is available. This fencing is available for rental or purchase.
On-site buildings, although a less available option, may be worth considering, depending on the property. Large sites will have outbuilding or maintenance sheds that can easily be converted to store a few truckloads of salt. Installing your own temporary gate if one is not equipped will be worth the space to keep out unwanted people. Be creative, inspect the site and ask questions.
Video surveillance cameras can be used to monitor the site if more secure options aren’t available. With client approval, create a storage yard in a corner of a parking lot or behind a building in clear sight of the video cameras. You will need to become friendly with security since they will be your source to review footage if supply starts to disappear.
Simple tips for salt security
- Find a good central site or multiple sites in the area to store salt.
- Choose areas off roadways that are not visible to traffic.
- Inspect the area, collect data and/or talk with security about potential problems before hauling in salt.
- Work with your clients to save you time and headaches.
- Be respectful of the site. A neat clean pile after a storm leaves a lasting impression.
- Post small signs at your staging area to deter the public.
- Buy lunch or coffee for the on-site security guard. Build a relationship so they will look out for you.
- Keep salt piles and pallets creatively covered and weighed down. This will quickly alert you if the cover looks tampered with when doing site inspections.
Solid, weatherproof and lockable, these containers are ideal for storing bulk or bagged product and equipment on-site.
Fencing is a less-expensive option for protecting material, particularly bagged products. This is not ideal for bulk storage. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GREG STACHO ON-SITE BUILDINGS
Some sites have large permanent buildings that can be used for winter salt storage. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE
Build a relationship with on-site security so they can help keep an eye on your inventory. FABRIC STRUCTURES
Temporary or permanent fabric structures are an alternative to permanent concrete buildings. You’ll need to protect the contents, such as staging on a section of the site that isn’t visible to the public and/or parking equipment across the open front. Greg Stacho is director of field operations for Akehurst Landscape Service in Joppa, MD, and a member of the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.