Tow, plow drivers, plumbers prosper – Boston Herald
The brutal winter is proving a boon to certain hardy and lucky sectors of the Bay State’s snow-plagued economy — from tradesman to plow drivers to hardware stores.
“This is by far our busiest, most lucrative winter — ever,” said Beacon Hill’s Charles Street Supply owner Jack Gurnon, whose store has been besieged by customers seeking many shovels, ice scrapers, heaters and roof rakes. “It’s epic. It’s one storm after another after another. I feel badly for the amount of disruption it’s caused. But we’re making out great.”
Plow drivers have literally seen money fall from the sky, with 7-plus feet on the ground already.
Yeh Diab, co-founder of PlowMe.com, said his contractors have done more jobs in the last three weeks than they did all of last winter.
“This is unprecedented,” Diab said. “It’s really been — no pun intended — an avalanche. Business-wise, it has been a good winter.”
Likewise, tow drivers have seen a bumper crop of cars battered by pothole-ridden roads and subzero temperatures.
Craig Quatromini, owner of C.J. Auto and Tow, said the towing end of his business has been so busy that he’s actually closed his Waltham auto-repair shop for the last few weeks to keep up.
“We’re helping 200 people a day in Newton — almost triple other winters — and installing 10 batteries a day there,” Quatromini said.
The winter has taken a steep toll on many small businesses and restaurants that have seen customers dwindle thanks to a broken transit system and snow days that force Bay Staters to hunker down — spurring Gov. Charlie Baker to declare this week Valentine’s Week to urge people to patronize shops and eateries. Hourly workers who depend on the T — and the school system for childcare — have had particularly hard hits to their paychecks.
But certain sectors have made out well, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, associate professor of economics and public policy at Northeastern University.
“There are winners and losers,” Clayton-Matthews said. “On net, it is a pretty big loss, especially for hourly workers. But it has been a good winter for snowplow drivers and others.”
At Ippolito Snow Services, a plow company in the South End, revenues are up 300 percent this winter, owner Frank Ippolito said.
“We’re not trying to take on new clients,” he said. “We can’t even call everyone back to respectfully decline. We’ve had to just post something on our website.”
Snow Angels, a Boston shoveling business, has seen the number of its customers spike in recent weeks, said owner Carolyn Falk.
“We literally have people around the clock, but we prioritize first responders and the elderly and handicapped,” Falk said. “I empathize with the businesses that have been hard hit, but winter’s been very good for us.”
Joe Delicio, general manager for Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Services Co., said year to date, revenues are up about 15 percent over last year, even though its plumbers have had difficulty getting into driveways or finding parking due to the snow.
“The cold helps our business because people’s pipes freeze,” Delicio said. “And when this stuff starts melting, that will bring a new influx of calls.”