Running a snow removal business is expensive enough—you can’t afford to overpay for deicers or lose additional money due to product spoilage. That’s why more snow removal contractors are looking to fabric structures for their salt storage needs.
“We’re picking up more contractors all of the time,” says Chris Talmadge, vice president of commercial sales for Accu-Steel. “Many municipalities are hiring local contractors to maintain certain stretches of road. So contractors have a greater need for salt, and with that comes a greater need to keep more on hand at a given time.”
A reliable storage facility allows contractors to buy their salt in bulk, avoiding the higher prices that often come with ordering in the middle of winter. A storage facility also gives contractors peace of mind knowing that any unused product will be protected until the following season.
“The cost savings a contractor can realize from buying in bulk alone will typically pay for a storage building in a couple of seasons, depending on the amount of salt he’s buying, of course,” Tallmadge points out.
The fact that these types of structures are custom built around a contractor’s needs is one of the more compelling reasons to take a look at them. Whether you need to store 500 ton of salt or 1,500, a good manufacturer will be willing and able to accommodate you. Furthermore, depending on the size and complexity of your desired structure, you can normally have one up and running a month or two after placing your order.
“First and foremost you have to decide how much salt your business needs in order to operate throughout the winter,” says Brad Williams, national ClearSpan sales, ClearSpan Fabric Structures. “We then have mathematical equations that can help you decide what length and width you need to reach a certain capacity of salt.”
ClearSpan can customize buildings up to 300 feet wide and any length. Williams says the average is 45 to 100 feet for salt storage. “Most salt delivery trucks are 48 to 55 feet long, so we always recommend a building that will allow for easy maneuvering,” Williams points out.
Accu-Steel offers 30- to 180-foot widths and any length. Height is also variable. “When you have trucks driving in and out, you want a little bit higher center height,” Tallmadge explains. “We can manufacture a building to have a higher sidewall in this case. Again, it all depends on the customer’s needs.”
Fabric-covered buildings such as these can be considered temporary because they do not require a foundation. “Most people mount their buildings on poured concrete or precast blocks,” Williams says. “This also allows for additional building height and clearance. Some just mount the building on concrete piers over an impervious pad, and then build an interior push wall to keep the salt retained.
“The great thing is that these structures can be easily dismantled and relocated,” Williams continues. “They are environmentally sensitive buildings and have a smaller footprint than traditional wood or steel buildings.”
But they’re still durable. “We manufacture all of our steel at our Iowa facility, and then send it out to be hot-dip galvanized,” Tallmadge says. “That process coats both the outside and inside of the steel with about 4 mil of zinc. We then have no need to weld, so there are no spots where the zinc coating is burned off. The result is a strong, durable frame that’s resistant to corrosion, which is important because salt is highly corrosive.”
“Every ClearSpan Hercules Truss Arch Building is constructed of the highest-quality, American-made structural steel,” Williams says. “Made from recycled steel, our steel tubing is triple-galvanized and provides superior corrosion protection.
“Our fabric covers are then made from 12.5-ounce, high-density polyethylene fabric,” Williams continues. “A rip-stop scrim weave is embedded into the fabric, so in the unlikely event that the fabric becomes punctured, it will not continue to tear.”