A Time of Transition: Preparing for Winter

People always ask if this is a slow time of year for us. Seeing as our grounds maintenance and landscaping crews are winding down, and the snow is months away, this is a reasonable expectation. But, I  have to laugh at this thought, because honestly, the fall is probably our busiest time of year! winter-tractors

While most summer leisure activities are dwindling, our crews are out working hard to make sure we close down all of our jobs, and complete fall cleanups before winter sets in.  And that’s the great unknown – when will winter set in?  While we’re trying to finish our outdoor work, we’re also trying to get ready for the first snowfall. This overlap of seasons, keeps our management staff on their toes. We can’t predict when winter will begin or what weather conditions it will bring, but we do know that we have to be ready!

There is a lot that goes in to getting ready for winter.  We first have to know who our customers are – this involves renewing existing contracts, as well as estimating and selling new contracts.  This can be challenging as well, as some customers don’t recognize the lead up time required to get ready, and therefore leave their purchasing decisions to the last minute!  We don’t tend to sign may contracts after October for this reason (note:  Hire your winter contractor early!). The lead up

to winter also requires hiring a large amount of staff to fill positions such as salt truck operators, equipment operators, shovelers, and supervisors. MPS employs 170-200 employees during the winter months and we service properties across the northern GTA area. White Sierra Denali with Western Plow

In terms of physically preparing, it requires all hands on deck! We begin by engineering site-maps so that all of our operators understand how to plow/shovel/salt the site to achieve customer requirements.  We then hold extensive training sessions so our snow personnel (new and existing) are ready for the winter, and their roles.  They need to be familiar with sites, equipment and material requirements long before the first snowflake flies.  Salt bins need to be placed on site and stocked with material, as well some sites need to be staked.  We don’t do a lot of staking, because a high percentage tend to be stolen by people for their own driveways.  A half-staked lot is more dangerous than a lot that has no stakes, as an equipment operator may assume all curbs are marked, and can hit one at high speed.  This is bad for the curb, the machine and especially the operator.  We prefer operators to move slowly to find curbs and initially create snowbanks.

Finally, getting equipment ready is a year round endeavour.  Our mechanical team begins by “summerizing” all equipment in the spring.  De-salting, cleaning and undercoating is performed on all equipment.  Repairs and routine maintenance is performed over the summer months, and new equipment is purchased in anticipation of winter sales. In the past we have rented farm space north of Uxbridge to clear up room in our previously tiny yard during the warmer months. However, this past spring we took over the other side of our building and expanded our yard almost 10 fold. This has allowed us to keep all of our large winter equipment on site year round, eliminating the time it took to transport the equipment back and forth during seasonal change-ups.  Lastly, our “dual use” equipment (dump-trucks that we put salters on, or trucks that plow) needs to be transitioned during the fall.  With over 100 large pieces of equipment, and dozens of small machines, this is no small feat. And all of this needs to be done by an unpredictable deadline, decided by mother nature herself.  We don’t know when winter will begin, we just know we have to be ready! Snow Removal with a CAT 416 LoaderJim Monk | President

Residential Fall Newsletter 2016

FALL 2016

MPS Summer Staff BBQ

MPS Summer Staff ’16

The days are getting shorter and the kids have headed back to school, it can only mean that fall is upon us! The change in seasons always brings an air of excitement, new decor, recipes and flowers in the garden. In this issue we have included some important steps that should be taken in the fall to ensure your grass and gardens will wake-up healthier next spring, as well as some fall decor inspiration and a delicious fall recipe.

Here in the office we have been busy hiring fall staff to replace the students who have left for school, as well as getting prepared for the winter season. To celebrate the summer employees, we held the first MPS BBQ.  It was a great afternoon and allowed our employees to socialize with managers and office staff in a relaxed setting

MPS Student Employees


ISO Certification

ISO 9001 CERTIFICATION

MPS Property Services is very proud to announce that after a summer of hard work and implementation of many new processes, we have passed our internal and Stage 1 & 2 ISO audits; becoming only the second Canadian company in our industry to achieve ISO 9001 / SN 9001 Certification.

This internationally recognized Business Management credential identifies MPS as an organization that meets the procedures, policies and requirements of ISO Quality Management, with specific written standards related to the Snow & Ice Management industry.

This exciting certification is an important step in allowing MPS Property Services to continue to improve our customer satisfaction and overall quality of our operations.

We look forward to implementing our new systems and procedures this winter!


Fall Decor

As autumn rolls in, it calls for a change in outdoor decor such as warm colours, pumpkins, and rustic touches. Click here to see our ‘Fall Decor’ Pinterest board for all your fall inspiration needs.

MPS Fall Decor


Fall Turf Care:Aeration & Overseeding 

After a hot, dry summer, like the one we have just experienced, Core Aeration and Overseeding are two easy ways to help heal lawns that have been damaged by summer drought, diseases, insects and even heavy foot traffic.
Core aeration is the process where small cores of soil are removed mechanically from the lawn to reduce soil compaction and promote root growth. Compacted soil prevents grass from establishing a healthy root system and will keep water and fertilizer from reaching the roots as well. Aeration will benefit your lawn and make it healthier in the following ways:

  • Improve the exchange of air between the soil & atmosphere
  • Improve water & fertilizer uptake to the soil and roots
  • Reduce water runoff
  • Enhance the root system of the grass
  • Improve the turfs heat & drought stress tolerance
  • Increase thatch breakdown

Aeration should be done twice per year; in the spring and fall, with the fall aeration (between early September and mid-November), occurring before any late season fertilizer application. Aerations should be done each year, especially if the soil is poor, to improve the health of your lawn.
Early fall is a great time for overseeding your lawn, especially after a summer drought. This gives the seed enough time to germinate and the resulting seedlings time to mature enough to survive the winter and begin growing again in the spring.
The grass seed mix should be spread with either a rotary or drop spreader to ensure the proper amount is applied to the lawn correctly (refer to the bag for specific instructions). Overseeding is an effective way to fill in areas of turf that were damaged in the summer, and also thickens and increases the density of “thin” lawns. Overseeding also increases the turfs ability to fight disease and insects that are prevalent in the summer and will improve the appearance of your lawn.


FALL CLEANUP CHECKLIST

  1. Aerate the lawn- As the temperatures start to decrease the grass will slow down, however moist soil encourages strong root development.
  2. Fertilizer- A high phosphorus mix around 12-25-12 will encourage root growth, meaning MPS Fall Cleanup-List you’ll have a greener lawn in the early spring.
  3. Final Mow- On the last cut of the season, trim down to 1 ¼ inches. Diseases have a harder time developing in shorter grasses, it also decreases the amount of leaves and debris that can get caught in longer grass.
  4. Collect leaves
  5. Plant shrubs- planting shrubs in the fall gives them a head start
  6. Plant spring bulbs-  such as tulips, daffodils…
  7. Trim dead limbs
  8. Cut back perenials
  9. Mulch young plants- protection from frost damage
  10. Dry out irrigation drip system- put hose and other garden tools away

Beautifully Accessible - Completed project

BEAUTIFULLY ACCESSIBLE 

Here is another unique design to add to the books, we are in love with how it turned out! These delightful homeowners approached us with the vision of an accessible and functional landscape design for their backyard. They needed an accessibility ramp with a design that accentuated the patio and outdoor living space. Our designer Dave created this beautiful backyard and made it functional for the whole family.

Construction on this project began mid-September, first a porch ‘Overlay’ was added to the original builders porch slab. Porch overlays are an easy way to add continuity between the porch and interlocking patio. Techo Bloc Blu 60 pavers were used for the patio and accessibility ramp, this paver was recommended by our designers since the texture of the stone reduce slip hazards. To build the accessibility ramp with the proper slope, the patio was raised 18 inches with the installation of Ortana retaining walls. Armour stones were included throughout the design to divide areas and add visual appeal.  Permacon Esplanade steps were installed off the side of the patio and at the door to the detached garage. One special addition to the design was the antique curbs on the accessibility ramp for added safety. Lastly, new low-maintenance gardens were installed with mulch, to complete this project. This home now has a beautifully accessible backyard that is functional for the whole family!

Accessibility ramp with interlock


An MPS FavouriteMPS Butternut Squash Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 4 strips Applewood bacon
  • 3 cups Butternut squash cubes
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 1 cup Red onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Sage, fresh
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Thyme, fresh
  • 1 cup Chicken stock, low sodium
  • 2 lb Pasta, gluten free
  • 1 Salt
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tbsp Butter

 

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet add the butter and red onion. Saute until slightly soft, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Next add in the garlic, saute for 30 seconds, stir and add the butternut squash, chicken stock, sage, and thyme. Stir and cover. Cook until the butternut squash is fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. When the squash is tender, add the squash to a food processor along with the milk and salt to taste. Puree until smooth.
  4. In the meantime heat a small skillet to medium high heat, add the diced bacon to the pan and saute until the bacon is crispy. About 4-5 minutes. When the bacon is done, place it on a paper towel lined plate to let the grease drain.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add gluten free pasta, cook according to directions, (6-8 minutes) do not overcook.
  6. Drain pasta and add butternut squash sauce to the pasta, gently toss together and top with crispy bacon. Serve!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1½ cups Calories: 407 Fat: 9 g Carbohydrates: 83 g Sugar: 6 g Sodium: 234 mg Fiber: 8 g Protein: 10 g Cholesterol: 20 mg

Fall Commercial Newsletter

Fall 2016 

iso9001

ISO 9001 CERTIFICATION

MPS Property Services is very proud to announce that after a summer of hard work and implementation of many new processes, we have passed our internal and Stage 1 & 2 ISO audits; becoming only the second Canadian company in our industry to achieve ISO 9001 / SN 9001 Certification.

This internationally recognized Business Management credential identifies MPS as an organization that meets the procedures, policies and requirements of ISO Quality Management, with specific written standards related to the Snow & Ice Management industry.

This exciting certification is an important step in allowing MPS Property Services to continue to improve our customer satisfaction and overall quality of our operations.

We look forward to implementing our new systems and procedures this winter!


PURCHASING SNOW & ICE MANAGEMENT SERVICES

snow

Hiring a professional, reliable and experienced Snow & Ice contractor is a very important step in protecting your business throughout the winter season. Your level of risk will increase greatly if you hire a service provider without adequate insurance, reliable equipment, skilled workers, accurate documentation or experience under the worst conditions that winter can throw at us.
A good Snow & Ice contractor will always be able to provide and sign a contract that carefully defines the desired level of service, engineered site maps, work logs, and be easily accessible throughout any winter snow event.
Some of the most important things to look for when selecting a winter service provider include:

  • Safety, liability and risk management
  • Estimating, planning and cost effectiveness
  • Timely execution and responsiveness of services
  • Quality and reliability of service
  • Detailed documentation, verified service and ease of communication
  • 24/7 emergency response
  • Expertise and professionalism
  • Certifications (Certified Snow Professional, etc.), best practices and standards of education

It is reasonable for you to expect your winter service provider to be able to provide all of the items detailed above with reliability and in a professional manner.
MPS Property Services Ltd. is proud to be a long-time leader in the Snow & Ice Industry; with continual improvement, ongoing education and industry best practices at the forefront of our operations. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that you may have.


FALL CLEANUP CHECKLIST

  1. Aerate the lawn- as the temperatures start to decrease the grass will slow down, however moist soil encourages strong root development.
  2. Fertilizer- high phosphorus mix around 12-25-12 will encourage root growth, meaning you’ll have a greener lawn in the early spring.ガーデニング
  3. Final Mow- on the last cut of the season, trim down to 1 ¼ inches. Shorter grass in the fall prevents debris from getting caught and slows disease growth.
  4. Collect leaves
  5. Plant shrubs- planting shrubs in the fall gives them a head start.
  6. Plant spring bulbs- such as tulips, daffodils…
  7. Trim dead limbs
  8. Cut back perennials
  9. Mulch young plants- Mulch adds insulation and protection from frost damage.
  10. Dry out irrigation drip system- put hose and other garden tools away.

IMG_8130

The days are getting shorter and the kids have headed back to school, it can only mean that fall is upon us! The change in seasons always brings an air of excitement, new decor, recipes, and flowers in the garden.

Here in the office we have been busy hiring fall staff to replace the students who have left for school, as well as getting prepared for the winter season. To celebrate the summer employees, we held the first MPS BBQ. It was a great afternoon and allowed our employees to socialize with managers and office staff in a relaxed setting.

IMG_8129

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