“We’ve been preparing for the storm for five days,” said Chris Russo, commercial sales manager and business development for Lake Forest-based Mariani Landscape, who also helps out the snow crew in the winter.
“We took the stance of getting our crews out before the major part of the storm hit, where they were predicting several inches per hour,” said Chris Paisley, service programs manager in charge of snow removal, and in the green seasons, plant health and maintenance productions. “We wanted to get them out ahead, not too late, and safely, and so we could help our clients get out safely and have everything accessible.”
Mariani runs 130 to 150 snow clearing machine operators, plow truck drivers and shovelers out of the main office on Rockland Road to service 300 residential driveways and roughly 50 commercial properties – multifamily housing, office buildings, churches, banks, and industrial parks. It also has a branch in the western suburbs.
“These guys that have to be out there with the blowers and shovels, they’re troopers. It’s cold, wet, (and) long hours. It’s one of the most difficult jobs you can do,” Paisley commented.
“Frank (Mariani) and Fred (Wacker), the owner and president, made sure that arrangements are made for hotels if we need them. We’ve got food. They come here during the storms and help me, take calls, whatever we need,” said Russo.
The company’s human resources department even sent over a truck of drinks and snacks to carry the crews through the storm.
“Hey, the juice and coffee and donuts really made a difference. We really do appreciate it,” said grateful snow associate Richard McDaniel, taking a break from clearing four- and five-foot snow drifts from doors and assisting plow drivers.
He arrived for work at 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, and at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, came in for refreshments and to warm up – or cool down – and stretch out before heading back out into battle.
Paisley said the crew has fared well out in the storm throughout Lake County.
“There were abandoned cars everywhere making it difficult for us to get from point A to point B," Paisley said. "Visibility was poor. Guys were getting stuck just due to the depth of the snow. We had a few one-ton trucks going around helping guys who were stuck. A lot of times guys were digging themselves out.”
Mariani also helped stranded passenger vehicles out of their own ruts. “One of our drivers had a Lake Forest police officer flag him down to help somebody else get out,” he added.
“It’s been pretty much a long, dragged-out storm and we’ll probably still be going well into the (Thursday) morning.”