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Calm in the storm

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  • SIMA
- Posted: June 17, 2017
By Cheryl Higley

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Mapping the future: The map in the boardroom of Case Snow Management is a constant reminder to Jason Case and his team of where they are today (nine states in the Northeast) and the possibilities that lie ahead.

Seven years ago, Snow Business featured Case Snow Management CEO Jason Case as an up-and-coming snow and ice management professional and third-generation business owner trying to set his company apart from the pack in a crowded market. Since then, Case has built the North Attleboro, MA, company into one of the largest private snow and ice management companies in the country with over 1,500 clients in nine states.

Case, CSP, ASM, has grown the business into a $30 million juggernaut through positive leadership, process management, customer engagement and employee development. In recognition of his achievements, Case was chosen as the 2017 Snow Business CEO of the Year.

Company growth
Since spinning off from his father’s company, J.E. Case Companies in 2009, Case Snow Management has grown from a local snow and ice business into a regional enterprise.
 
The company is built on a business model that delivers snow and ice management services through self-performing team members and a network of more than 340 service providers. Despite the size of the service network, Case says his company should not be mistaken for a national or regional service broker.

“We strive to understand our customers and provide custom solutions and personalized service for their unique situations,” he notes. “We seek long-term partnerships with our customers and strive to earn their trust. We take pride in what we do, strive for flawless execution in all areas, and do not take shortcuts to save a buck.”

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A legacy of learning: The history of Jason Case’s family and their businesses is proudly displayed in the headquarters foyer. “I received a lot of guidance from my dad and my grandfather, and I never thought about working anywhere else,” Case says. “The business allowed me to understand snow and ice. I learned from their successes and their mistakes. It’s played a critical role in my understanding the time, effort and energy it requires to make a business successful.”

Implementing a game changer
Case is constantly seeking ways for the company to work smarter. As Case Snow grew, he realized it was outgrowing the existing structure. Recognizing that maintaining the status quo would certainly be detrimental to successful growth, Case took a groundbreaking step that transformed the company. In 2013, Case Snow Management became the first snow and ice management company to achieve ISO SN9001 certification.

“Pre-ISO, our business was focused on the exterior services and how to grow them. We needed guidance on how to build the infrastructure and process. Now we have a systematic approach with policy, procedure, training and accountability that is structured for enormous growth,” Case says. “The biggest advantage of ISO is that it holds us accountable for who we are and what we do.”

With its roots as a family business, a key change was the implementation of a corporate culture. Case says the result was positive for growth but difficult from a personnel standpoint.

“People who are great at multitasking have found it is hard transitioning to a process-driven environment and have grown out of the organization. It’s difficult to see the company outgrow someone you’ve established a personal relationship with and who has helped you become successful,” he says.

Growth sparks employee evolution
Case sees his team as family and one of the most important parts to his company’s success. His commitment to training is ongoing and rewarded, and he encourages every team member to seek educational opportunities and to become active in industry associations. The company reimburses tuition costs upon successful completion. He brings employees to the annual Snow & Ice Symposium and hosts multiple training events at its headquarters.

“We put so much energy into employee development because it emphasizes a positive attitude and accentuates from the top down that we care about our people,” Case says. “Being the best at what we do is a reflex throughout our company. We do not ask our team to take the Advanced Snow Manager or Certified Snow Professional courses; they do it because they know it will make them and our team better. They believe in our mission and changing the industry.”

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Training ground: Jason Case believes that an educated workforce builds professionalism and advancement opportunity and improves safety on client sites.

Evolution of a CEO
The company’s growth has given Case the opportunity to evolve. Practicing what he preaches, he seeks every opportunity to improve his leadership and management skills. He meets with a professional coach and participates in a CEO peer group with executives from all types of businesses.

“Their guidance has helped me be a better leader and critical thinker. I have found a calmness that has given my team more confidence and made me a better CEO,” Case says.

That calmness has given Case perspective to see what is most important - the relationships with customers, employees and service providers.

“They can feel my passion for this business. That resonates with them. We consider our clients an extension of our team and that is what sets us apart,” he says.

The happiness and well-being of their clients and team, Case says, is the true measure of his success as a CEO: “There will always be good and bad financial years and ups and downs to any business. But success is measured by the relationships we build with our clients and the family culture we build with our team.”
Moving the industry forward
As a new snow and ice management business owner, Case joined SIMA in 2003; and like every task he tackles, he went all in. He volunteered on and chaired committees; he also served six years on SIMA’s Board of Directors, including board chairman in 2014-15.

His focus on education and training, professionalism, organization, client interaction and customer service is allowing Case and Case Snow Management to raise the bar and to help elevate the business of snow removal from a blue-collar industry to a professional service.

“We are changing the industry by taking a different approach with our customers. We focused on snow and ice for almost a decade to perfect the process and strategy for our customers,” Case says.

He notes his early implementation of site engineering maps that show clients and team members the service strategy has become an industry standard. In addition, he created Case University, an online training program that provides employees and service providers information on core business practices, snowplow strategy, technology and equipment training, administrative and paperwork processes, and site inspections.

In her CEO of the Year nomination letter, Director of Human Resources Liz Favata wrote: “The strides that Jason makes helps all snow removal companies be seen as businesses that deliver a service that enables society and the economy to keep moving, regardless of the weather.”
CFO and mentor sees growth
Case Snow Chief Financial Officer Bill Carello, CSP, has had a front-row seat to watch Jason Case’s evolution from college student to CEO of a multimillion-dollar company. Carello was CFO for J.E. Case Companies, led by Jason’s father John Case III. Jason split off from the parent company to form Case Snow in 2009, and Carello followed.

“As Case Snow has grown, Jason has evolved into the CEO role. He’s developed the capability to organize and manage people. We started with five people and now have 30 full-time employees and more than 1,000 seasonal team members. That requires more management and strategic planning,” Carello says.

Jason cites Carello as one of his mentors.

“He keeps me grounded and he’s not afraid to tell me ‘no,’ ” Case says.

“Jason is very aggressive and isn’t afraid to push the envelope, but at the same time we’re a good match because we’re both fiscally conservative,” Carello says. “Jason doesn’t want ‘yes’ people. He wants to challenge and be challenged. He doesn’t take it personally when I tell him something isn’t a good idea.”

A willingness to listen, genuine care for his customers and his employees, and dogged determination and confidence have helped Case rise to the upper echelon of the snow and ice management industry, Carello says.

“Jason is meticulous and organized. He brings humor and passion to everything he does. But he’s also very driven. When Jason sets his mind to something, he’s focused. He wants to be the best, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

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Mentor: Jason Case, CSP, ASM, says Bill Carello, CSP, (center) has helped mentor him as he has grown Case Snow Management. Case relies on his executive team, including Director of Operations John Semus (right), to help shape the company’s future. 

Building Momentum
Case Snow Management is listed on Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000, which ranks the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. Case Snow is also a three-time winner of SIMA’s Excellence in Business award and was recently recognized by Providence Business News as the fastest growing business in its category in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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Service: Focus on community and kids
Community service is a key criterion for CEO of the Year judging. From participating in “Touch a Truck” events and sponsoring Little League teams to more hands-on participation and support for Special Olympics, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, veterans organizations and service clubs, Jason Case donates time and financial support to his community as well as to causes that are important to the company’s customers.

“Having had the privilege to travel the world, I have seen the meager opportunity some people have. I am saddened when I see people struggle, especially children,” he says. “Giving back is a responsibility everyone should embrace at any level. I particularly enjoy helping young children through their challenges, as well as local organizations [where] I can see the difference my time, donation or charity makes in people’s lives.”
Growth spurs new facility
Case Snow Management moved into a new state-of-the-art facility in June 2016, marking the end of a seven-year project. “We invested millions of dollars in infrastructure, which will enable us to grow our fleet, technology platforms and multistate presence while operating out of one of the largest snow and ice facilities in the country,” Case says.

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Nineteen candidates were nominated for this year’s Snow Business CEO of the Year award. Members of the SIMA staff selected five finalists, and the winner was chosen by the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee, a member of SIMA’s Board of Directors, a sponsor representative and 2016 CEO of the Year Mikhail Evgrafov.
 
Thanks to Western Products, Fisher Engineering and SnowEx for their support and sponsorship of the CEO of the Year award.

 
 Cheryl Higley is editorial director of Snow Business magazine. Contact her at cheryl@sima.org. Photos by Frank Curran
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