Falling flakes drive car dealership employees up the wall

Print Print
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
— You could argue that snowplow drivers, emergency workers and letter carriers all have good reasons to dislike snow.

But think about showing up to work knowing you will find 250 white-mounded shapes vaguely resembling the cars, trucks and SUVs that were parked there the night before. Imagine row after row of them: 250 iced-over windshields and snow-topped roofs; thousands of frozen-shut doors and encrusted lights.

For people who work at car lots, it's the white stuff of nightmares.

And workers have to really clean these vehicles—not just make a perfunctory swipe across the windshield to clear a hole big enough to drive.

This winter has Al O'Leary, manager at Burtness Chevrolet in Orfordville, praying for a thaw.

So far, the Janesville area has had 27 snowfalls ranging from a trace to 9 1/2 inches.

After each snowfall, a dozen workers—salespeople, detail people and O'Leary—report for duty.

After a dusting, it takes them up to two hours to spruce up. But it's a seven-hour job if workers have to plow after a snow like Sunday's, and it's a 1/2-day chore after a blizzard like the one that hit Feb. 1.

Here's the routine:

- Brush off the vehicles with long-handled snow brooms that have foam instead of bristles to avoid scratching paint.

-- Plow the aisles.

-- Move the vehicles into the cleared aisles after starting each vehicle with a different key.

-- Plow the remaining snow.

-- Move the vehicles back into place.

Along the way, they spread salt.

This winter, they've had to move cars 10 times in 10 weeks.

"It's just a lot of work," O'Leary said.

Eight-foot snowbanks ring the lot, and they're running out of space.

"Our lot is almost maxed out," O'Leary said.

Another 5-incher would force O'Leary to hire contractors to haul away the snow, and that's expensive.

This year stands out in his memory because the area hasn't had much of a break from falling snow and freezing temps. O'Leary is hoping for a melt-off.

"I am sick of this," he said Monday after Sunday's accumulation surprised everybody.

"We just got done plowing, and guess what? It's snowing again.

"I'd kill for 40 degrees, right now," O'Leary said.

"In this business, it's not fun. By this time of year, you get so tired of it. You really do. You just don't get a break.

"We've just got snow everywhere."

Last updated: 4:22 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

Print Print