The Art & Function of Snow Removal
Posted on: 07 May 2021
Landmark Landscapes’ focus on building functional and aesthetic environments extends into snow removal operations.
Landmark Landscapes of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin was originally envisioned as a lifestyle company focused on landscape and the art of horticulture. “The business was started in 1990 by my parents. They ran it until 2014, as a lifestyle business that allowed them to pursue their passion for gardening and horticulture, dabbling in snow removal only when necessary,” says Jesse Majerus, owner and director of operations for Landmark Landscapes. “The passion was in the horticulture behind it. And my brother Joe and I saw an opportunity for serious growth.”
Since then, Jesse and Joe Majerus have grown the business dramatically — developing the systems and business processes to become a year-round business with a focus on commercial maintenance and snow removal. “We had early success building a strong foundation of hardscape and fantastic design/build projects,” Jesse says. “But we’ve really grown the maintenance and snow removal services through focused effort recently, more than quadrupling revenue in that line of business in the last three years.”
The company lives by the motto, Art through Ecology. “It’s our guiding philosophy,” co-owner Joe Majerus explains. “Take our philosophy down to its roots: Art is the expression of human creative skill and imagination to producing works to be appreciated for their beauty, and Ecology is the science that studies the relationships of organisms to one another and their physical surroundings. We really believe that what we do here at Landmark is the perfect embodiment of art through ecology. We perform services meant to be appreciated for the beauty, while focusing on how people are interacting with their environment. Art through Ecology gives our team’s work deeper meaning. We know that what we are doing is more than cutting the lawn or plowing the snow. We’re providing something that creates beautiful environments and that makes people’s daily lives easier and more enjoyable.”
Let it Snow
When Jesse and Joe started out, snow removal was a service for existing customers over the winter months, but it quickly expanded into a core component of their business. It has also helped them retain a talented team of employees. “It’s provided an opportunity to keep and retain our good guys throughout the year, to provide meaningful employment for them, and it has been a fantastic revenue stream,” Jesse explains.
“We see our professionalism as a big differentiator for us,” Jesse says. “These commercial accounts are counting on us. We put good looking equipment operated by trained, skilled professionals on their facilities to ensure that they are safe and operational no matter the weather. Increasing our focus on snow has been a fantastic thing for our business.”
As the snow portion of their business continues to grow, Landmark Landscapes has found that parking a piece of construction equipment with a snow blade — on site and ready to go — is more profitable and efficient than a traditional truck with a v-plow. “The efficiency of having a machine—either a [skid steer] loader or a track loader— just blows away a truck v-plow. There really is no comparison there,” says Jesse.
Using a compact track loader for snow removal eliminates many of the problems and inefficiencies associated with traditional truck plowing. “The ability to have a single maneuverable piece of equipment on a site not only offers the efficiency to the client, but from an operator standpoint, it’s so much easier. Operating a skid steer is so much safer and less stressful than maneuvering a big truck around a jammed parking lot,” Joe explains.
“The other benefit is that construction equipment is not being driven all over the county. So, you have a single location where the piece of equipment can stay. If it’s running, it’s making you money. There’s no travel time. There’s no driving around. No one is stopping at the gas station. We are significantly reducing the potentially dangerous and unprofitable activities that could cause major issues on the public roadways. That was a big portion of why we started focusing on the larger commercial accounts that could be serviced with our construction equipment.”
Compact Power and Productivity
One of Landmark Landscape’s dedicated snow removal machines is a CASE TV370B compact track loader. With a 3,700-pound rated operating capacity at 50 percent tipping load and a vertical-lift design, the 74 horsepower TV370B CTL provides the durability, strength and lift capacity of a large-frame CTL without the emissions-related service associated with a higher horsepower machine. The TV370B features new electro-hydraulic controls, managed through an intuitive 8-inch LCD display, that make it easy for operators of all skill levels to dial the machine in to specific applications.
The LCD display also features the industry’s only backup camera available in split screen—this provides great visibility for operators in tight spaces.
“The [cab-wide rearview] mirror and screen in conjunction is awesome,” says Jon Bock, maintenance operations manager for Landmark Landscapes. “At first, not really being used to using something like that — I use it almost exclusively now because you’re backing up in a lot of tight spaces and normally good operators are really good at managing their spatial awareness, and for anybody that is a good operator, you only get better with having that backup camera as an option.”
The TV370B allows operators to easily switch between ISO and H operating patterns, the ability to save operator profiles and application settings, and the flexibility to set total machine responsiveness to low, medium or high, or to independently set loader arm and drive response to meet an operator’s preference.
Bock says that the settings allow him to tailor the machine to each job/snow event. “It basically changes by the type of snow that’s falling,” he explains. “If you’re getting something that’s heavy and wet, you’re going to want to add a little bit more pressure into the drive. If you’ve got a really light snowfall, tailor it down a little bit, it basically changes per event for me.”
CASE B Series CTLs feature one of the widest cabs in the industry, with plenty of legroom, a low entry threshold and optional heated seats. “When you’re going non-stop for 12 hours, driver fatigue can become a pretty huge thing,” Bock says. “There are amenities within [the cab]—whether it be the air ride seat or heated seat—you’re able to just keep going and crank it out.”
The Relationship Business
Landmark Landscape works with Miller-Bradford & Risberg of Sussex, Wisconsin to source equipment both for dirt work in the summer months and snow removal in the winter.
“We like to look at the service provider before we look at any of the equipment,” says Joe. “In all of our large capital purchases that we make, the common denominator is a good relationship with the sales person, someone who cares for us and fits in well with our team.”
“In the case of our CASE equipment, Miller-Bradford has been a phenomenal partner in business,” he continues. “When we have an issue, we know we don’t have to question for a second that they will be there to support us when we need it.”
“Miller-Bradford’s been huge in the success of us growing our snow business. One of the main reasons we went down that road is just their great customer service,” Jesse says. “We’re a relationship-based business. Knowing that they would be there for us was a huge part of our decision-making process. Coupled with CASE being a strong machine, it made our decision a no brainer.”
All of these elements working together has helped Landmark Landscapes achieve the growth and success of a larger business, while retaining the spirit and character with which the business was originally founded.
“It’s awesome [building the business] with family but I’m really proud of the team that we’ve assembled,” Jesse concludes. “It’s humbling, really, when I look around and I see the guys that show up to work at midnight for a 12-hour shift. It’s pretty awesome. And I think the camaraderie and the sense of family that we’ve got throughout this organization is something that I’m really most proud of.”