While no distributor Sanitary Maintenance spoke with for this article plans to bring in as much ice melt as was needed last year — at least not before winter begins — distributors do want to help prepare their customers for winter weather.

One way to do this is through pre-orders.

Last year’s winter was so intense that few end users are likely to forget the amount of snow and extreme cold weather. Whether that transfers to customers buying more ice melt well before ice covers sidewalks and building entrances remains a fact to be seen.

“We definitely hope they will,” Josephs says, “but the problem that many of them have with pre-season orders is storage. Most facilities don’t have a lot of space to store ice melt as it is quite bulky.”

Customers may not be thinking about icy weather right now, but distributors says they will soon begin marketing efforts to remind their customers about the importance of winter preparedness.

“We plan on increasing our efforts to get more customers to order more before the season, but if they don’t we will not be increasing our usual pre-season orders,” Josephs says. “It is too much of a risk if the winter is mild.”
Just as he has done in previous years, Channell plans to put messages on his website and in customer emails, he says.

Brajak advises talking to facility managers and building and grounds directors about ice melt early. That way, when they do think about it, they know who to turn to, he says.

Some customers appreciate the need to keep ice melt in stock. For example, Brajak says a lot of schools buy ice melt in July, August and September. Others, however, seem to wait to call in the middle of a snowstorm, when trucks might not be able to make deliveries.

If customers can take in inventory over the summer, they can be prepared for if or when the weather turns bad, this winter.

Often when writing pre-orders, distributors will refer to a customer’s order history to help gauge the amount they typically use.

KSS Enterprises likes to set monthly orders. After winter arrives, customers can always increase or decrease their orders.

The pre-season appears to be starting a month earlier this year. Typically, the best time to buy ice melt had been around September with the goal of having customers ready by October, Josephs says.

However, in late June, Josephs says he heard rumor that there may already be shortages on ice melt.

SM followed up and according to manufacturers, the deicing industry could be underserved this coming winter, especially if the winter has an average snowfall or higher. Manufacturers are anticipating demand to outpace supply. Distributors can be prepared for this scenario by purchasing early and stocking up on supply.