Road salt in short supply this winter - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Road salt in short supply this winter

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(02/04/14) - Some parts of Mid-Michigan saw record snowfall in January.

A combination of snow, ice and cold has also affected cities, even in the deep south. That's led to salt shortages and sharply higher prices this winter.

While bad weather brings more business to smaller contractors, they also face much higher costs that affect their bottom line.

For local snow removal operators, like Michael Forystek of Premier Contracting, it's the busiest winter in several years.

"We've gone through a couple transmissions. We've had a few breakdowns because of it. But, we're definitely blessed with all this snow, because in the past few winters, it's been so light, we've just been able to get by," he said.

Call it a mixed blessing. All that snow and all that work has driven up the price of salt and melted some of the potential profits.

"Just yesterday the price doubled actually. So, if it costs $300 to fill a truck up, now it's $600," Forystek said.

As fast as suppliers receive salt shipments, they're on the way to contractors, according to Todd Dennis at Rock Bottom Stone Supply in Burton.

"It's very difficult getting salt right now, whether it's bagged salt or bulk salt."

Larger snow removal companies, like Curbco, in Flint Township, are catching a bit of a break, since they purchased much of their road salt and other chemicals last summer, when prices were lower.

"If you can buy on off-time of the year, if you have the cash flow, the ability to store and different things like that, absolutely, it helps," said owner Owner Keith Kirby.

For those running just a few trucks, like Forystek, with locked in contracts, the costs continue to add up.

"For the smaller guys like myself, we can't do too much about it. We can only fill up the trucks as we need the salt," he said.

Homeowners are also feeling the financial chill. Suppliers also say Ice-Melt for sidewalks is more expensive and getting harder and harder to find.

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