Salt of the Earth
It's not as if Minnesotans aren't used to winter weather. But during rough winters residents have to prepare for oncoming snow storms by stocking up on sidewalk salt, securing their cars in garages, and battening down the hatches before going to bed nice and early. In the St. Paul-Minneapolis metro area, snow - often coupled with ice - makes the sidewalks and roads slick, and the workday commute ugly at best.
But Noah Day takes it in stride. In fact, when a storm's approaching he doesn't go to bed early. He spends his day preparing to hit the streets - and he's often out all night.
Day is part owner of Construction Services of Minnesota, a construction and snow removal company in Minneapolis. Day is one of the company's primary snowplow drivers.
Day said sometimes the company can prepare for winter storms by using a machine that spreads a mixture of sand and salt on the road before the snow and freezing rain hits. "If you put that down before the ice comes, it will greatly reduce the slipperiness," he said, "but we don't usually go out during an ice storm."
Even if Day has been working all day, when it snows he has to be out all night, too. "It's the life of a plowist," he said with a sigh and a laugh.
This is Day's first winter as a snowplow driver. After a business venture went bad last year, his "entrepreneurial spirit" prompted him to start a new company, and there's been no lack of snow removal business this winter. Because Day had no experience driving a plow, he spent the first couple of snowfalls riding along in the snowplow with his business partner. He said he got the hang of it after a couple of shifts.
There is no training and no special licensure needed for snowplow drivers in the state of Minnesota. When asked if he had any advice for aspiring snowplow operators, Day laughed and said, "Tell them to call me. We're hiring."
Day said it's difficult to find snowplow drivers because of the hours and the need to be on call. Construction Services of Minnesota employs three full-time and seven part-time drivers, and they all have to be ready to go when the snow falls.
"We've got two shifts of plowing to do every time it snows over two inches," he said.
Day's employees do not currently receive benefits, but Day said his company is young and he and his partner are looking into different benefit packages.