Gritters and snow clearers brace themselves for a busy winter ahead

Maldon-based De-Ice. Picture: De-Ice van

Maldon-based De-Ice. Picture: De-Ice van - Credit: Archant

One of the UK’s longest-established and leading gritting and snow clearance specialists, which is based in Essex, is growing its staff in preparation for the winter ahead.

Mark and Vicky Lopez of De-Ice in Maldon. Picture: De-Ice

Mark and Vicky Lopez of De-Ice in Maldon. Picture: De-Ice - Credit: Archant

The Maldon-based company De-Ice provides winter maintenance services helping to keep businesses, hospitals, schools and retail outlets safe and open during extreme weather.

Thanks to the Beast from the East plunging Britain into an Arctic chill, last winter was one of the most challenging in De-Ice’s 20-year history, according to co-founder and director Vicky Lopez.

“Last winter was unprecedented, thanks to three major snow events all rolled into the one period,” she explained. “When the weather was at its worst, we saw some counties being completely cut off.

“Certainly, the first snow event in Essex on December 9 saw higher volumes of snow fall than were initially forecast, with the impact that many motorists were caught out on route as roads became backed up with vehicles unable to negotiate the icy conditions.”

During the winter season, De-Ice undertook more than 26,000 gritting visits, and its snow ploughs were clearing for over 1500 hours.

The family-run company is headquartered in Maldon, but also has regional offices in six other locations around the country.

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Ms Lopez said: “At times, it was relentless, but we are proud of what we achieved to help keep Britain moving. And - doubtless - our vast experience helped to ensure the high service levels we provided. Our 24/7 switchboard never missed a call.”

De-Ice has built a technology system which monitors the weather and triggers service delivery alerts. In the event of a possible claim, De-Ice customers can rely on an extensive service audit trail.

The harsh weather, while unfortunate, also proves good for business for De-Ice, which last Winter saw a record number of in-season contract sign ups.

The company also continues to grow having made four recent appointments - Theo Chatzi into a new role heading up accounts, while Clare Barber, Richard Smith and Michael Quinn strengthen the sales and account management team.

While snow and ice may be far from most people’s minds with this week’s balmy October temperatures, Ms Lopez warns businesses to plan for the winter ahead.

“Those who haven’t put any plans in place need to seriously assess the business risk of not having a solution in place when the weather turns,” she said.

“Organisations have a duty of care - to assess the risks and to ensure they are properly prepared. Failure to take the right approach can and will - inevitably - have disastrous consequences.”

Off the back of last year, Ms Lopez predicts we could be in for another couple of harsh winters.

“This has tended to be the pattern after the last major snow event during Winter 2009/10 - the following two winters were both snowy with prolonged sub-zero conditions,” she points out.

“We rely on state of the art forecasting tools, but when it comes to long- and mid-range forecasting, the probabilities of variables increase.”