For some Utah businesses, snowstorm troubles linger
Snow • Revenue lost to unplowed roads will be tough to recover.
Published: February 1, 2013 09:39AM
Updated: May 21, 2013 11:31PM
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Al Hartmann| The Salt Lake Tribune Traffic was slowed to creep by a series of storms that hit the Salt Lake Valley earlier this week.

For most Utah businesses, the impact of several days of winter storms was fleeting.

Retail outlets, such as grocery stores, whose customers may have stayed home to avoid the unplowed roadways, could expect them to reappear once the snow stopped falling and the roads were cleared. After all, everyone has to eat, storms or no.

For several companies, though, the storms led to losses that will be difficult to make up.

“We hate it when we get those kinds of storms,” said Brandon Harrison, who directs the over-the-road division at C.R. England Trucking in Salt Lake City. “Our drivers slow down to make sure they are operating safely for the road conditions. But that causes us delays in picking up and delivering our cargo.”

And that lost time means lost revenue for the company, which doesn’t get paid unless its drivers are hauling freight over the nations roads and highways.

“Our customers understand when a big storm hits, but it still can throw off their inventory and distributions schedules,” he said.

Harrison expressed relief that the storms that rolled through Utah didn’t result in any major highway closures. “That is when we really get hit, when highways like I-80 are closed and our drivers are waiting around for them to reopen.”

T.J. Harris, whose wife Amy runs The Owl Tree Preschool out of their home in Smithfield, said the storms clogged the road in front of their house, which went unplowed for a time. That meant parents had problems getting their kids to school. As a result, only about half of the 20 students that she normally teaches showed up during the bad weather.

“My wife considered canceling preschool until the snow was cleared but opted to call the parents and tell them to park on the main road a block away, which was plowed” he said.

Still, the storms may not result in any lost revenue because the school’s patrons pay by the month. “We did reach the point where my wife was talking about refunding some of the money to parents if the storm kept up much longer.”

Dog and cat groomer Karen Drozd, who runs K9 Couture and Kitty Couture in Farmington, said her customers also had difficulties getting to her business because of the snow-covered roads that were unplowed while the storms raged.

“My revenue was off about 20 percent this past month,” she said. “Even though I have a great clientèle who are very loyal and I anticipate that I’ll make that [business] up in the months ahead, I still worry.

“I’m concerned that some may just decide that when it’s snowing it’s just a little too hard to get to me. And I really would hate to see them take their pets to one of those big-box stores like PetSmart or Petco.”