Snow business provides opportunities
Lo-Se-Ca Foundation provides employment with new snow removal business
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 06:00 am
Unlike other Canadians in winter, Andrew Mckerlie enjoys pushing a snowblower down the driveway. He also enjoys having his first, real job, he adds.
Mckerlie is one of four men who recently started working at Four Seasons Yard Care. The business was created by the St. Albert-based Lo-Se-Ca Foundation to give people with disabilities an opportunity to be employed in the community.
“We just decided one day that we needed to start creating some of our own employment,” says Stacey Anderson, employment manager with Lo-Se-Ca.
“We have some really great employment opportunities in St. Albert. But there is also a big push with the government right now to make sure that employment comes first.”
Four Seasons Yard Care opened Dec. 1 and offers monthly contracts for local snow removal services.
The rate for a monthly contract is $150 to $200, depending on the size of the lot, but this month’s service is offered at a reduced rate of $100, says Anderson.
The men are paid a percentage of the overall income, depending on how many hours they work and how many contracts the company secures, she says. That way, even if it doesn’t snow, they still receive a steady income.
“A lot of the guys never had a job. So this is a good teaching tool to show them that they have to be on time, and that when you say something has to be done, you have to do it,” she says.
“So when they go out into the community and want to do something else they have that skill and knowledge and a reference letter.”
But it also gives the men a greater sense of independence and purpose in the community, meeting people and building relationships and vice versa, adds Pie Buzubona.
Buzubona is the operations manager for Four Seasons. He trains the men on the snowblower, and makes sure that they show up on time. He also looks after their transportation and all other needs.
“I motivate them because last time we worked at minus 30, so it was cold,” he says. “But we did eight houses in one day."
While Lo-Se-Ca had to take on a loan to finance the startup and its snow removal equipment, Anderson is optimistic that the business will be successful once it secures enough contracts.
Some of her customers already promised to keep the men on for the rest of the winter, she says.
“When we first started it we were hoping to get four or five contracts and go from there and I think we are at 10 now,” she says. “So it’s busy. It’s busier than we thought it would be initially.”
In the summer she hopes to expand the business to include yard work, garden cleanups and lawn mowing services. Lo-Se-Ca may even create more business opportunities for other people by then, she says, adding that it pays better than other jobs and provides workers with a regular income.
For his part, Mckerlie says he is enjoying his work and the outdoors. He is also saving money for a trip to Hawaii, he says.
“It’s going fantastic. It pays good and I enjoy the winter because I am Canadian,” he laughs. “It’s a joy to work for the people. A lot of exercising. A lot of walking.”
Four Seasons Yard Care can be reached at 780-984-9700, on facebook (4 Seasons Yard Care by the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation), or by email at email@example.com.