Oct. 1 2002 12:00 AM

American Landscape came to Salt Lake City in 1998 at the invitation of the Mormon Church to complete the landscaping for the $500 million LDS Conference Center. Finding a good market, the new Utah division stayed to handle landscaping projects for new home construction and business development.

Last year, maintenance contracts, which included snow removal, were being awarded to several local businesses for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Each maintenance division sought several contractors to cover all of the venues. For example, waste removal had four contracts and cleaning had five. American Landscape was asked to make a bid for seven of the 14 venues. Bill Holland, manager of business development for American Landscape, contacted successful snow expert, John Allin, president of Allin Companies in Eric, Pennsylvania, and brought him into the project as a technical advisor.

American Landscape?s Park City, Utah branch snagged the big bucks last year by landing an exclusive contract for snow removal for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The road to that contract was an interesting one, considering that the Park City office had only been open for business a short time and that American Landscape isn?t known for pushing snow.
The company is a leader in multi-million dollar landscaping projects like Jurassic Park ? the Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood or signature golf courses in the sun-belt.

As bids passed back and forth during the spring and summer, it became clear that the Olympics was over budget in all areas, including the bids for snow removal. In late August, with time running out, Holland proposed an option to the Olympics Committee.

American Landscape would do the snow removal for all 14 venues, and they would do it underbudget. ?No company was large enough to handle all of the venues, including the mountain ski resorts,? Holland says. ?We had the equipment and the personnel, the snow expertise from John Allin, and the local crews. We proposed to do all of the venues for $3.5 million, regardless of how much it snowed.?

American Landscape signed the contract in October, 2001 and began preparations for the opening on February 27, 2002. They wrote a management plan with detailed methods to get snow out of each venue in six hours. They brought in 110 pieces of equipment, including 5-yard wheel loaders, skid steers, pumps, and pickup trucks. More than 300 people manned crews or supervised the work at the venues.

As October and November passed with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, and no sign of snow, the Olympics Committee began to wonder if there would be a Winter Olympics at all. The Saturday before Thanksgiving brought in a blizzard, dumping eight feet of snow in the mountain resorts and three feet in the valley. It was the second largest snow in Salt Lake City?s history. This storm and several smaller ones through January gave crews the opportunity to work out the bugs of the maintenance plan.

After that, it stopped snowing, again making everyone wonder whether this event would take place. Then, in the wee, early hours the day of the Opening Ceremony, six inches of snow fell. American Landscape had three hours to get the snow cleared out of the stadium. The snow couldn?t be piled, it had to be trucked out. When the Opening Ceremony began, the trucks and equipment were gone. ?Most people didn?t even know it had snowed,? Holland says.

?There were so many challenges at each venue,? Holland admits. The parking lot for the production staff, which is located next to the stadium that hosted the Opening Ceremony, hadn?t been plowed all winter. They had 24 hours to remove the snow before the games began. Sixty thousand tons of snow was hauled in 14 hours, using 35 trucks and pumps. Rather like little elves, the crews went in, did their job, and then quietly left.

Through it all, Holland beams, ?There was not one claim ? either an injury or an equipment mishap.?

Of the Winter Olympics experience, Holland adds, ?This was the biggest stage in the world. We had to meet the expectations of the toughest customers in the world. We couldn?t have done it without the commitment from our company?s owners, who let us manage it locally.? In a letter of recognition from the Olympics Committee, American Landscape was noted for ?quietly helping the games to shine.?

October 2002