With the start of winter looming next month, businesses and other entities in Maine are thinking about how to make sure roads and driveways are clear of snow and safe to drive on.
This year, that's a task with unique, added challenges because of pandemic-related labor shortages and supply chain problems.
"We had to change some of our hiring practices," said Erin Courtney, public outreach manager for the Maine Turnpike Authority, explaining that, within the past year, it has removed a previous requirement that plow drivers live 30 minutes from the turnpike in order to attract more workers.
Meanwhile, some smaller companies and plow contractors say they may have to raise rates because of rising labor and supply costs.
"Everything is going up, that goes to the consumer eventually," said Rick Fritz, owner of Rick's Remodeling and mainesnowremoval.com in Bridgton.
While Fritz has not had the same problems as other Maine businesses, who told The Portland Press Herald they have had to cut back on residential services because of labor shortages.
"Generally speaking we can fill spots, but it's not always with the best candidates -- the pool is smaller," he explained, adding that he believes that, "so far, my smaller company is doing okay."
Fritz did say that the increased prices and availability of tires, equipment for rent, shovels, truck parts and salt are already factoring into his planning for the upcoming snow season and causing some difficulty.
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His advice to people who are thinking of hiring a contractor to plow is to not wait to call, even with some lingering warmer temperatures and leaves in Maine this year.
The earlier someone books snow removal service, the more likely a company will have availability to accommodate the request.