Snowplows, Start Your Engines

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They may be pushing dirt now, but when a heavy winter snowstorm is forecasted, WES Construction's employees -- and their earth moving equipment -- will be needed to plow snow.

"We might get a call at 3 in the morning. We'll call our truck dispatch and equipment dispatch and we'll have our men on site as quick as we can," says Fritz Griffin, an operations manager for WES Construction.

He says the company has helped out in all major disasters in the last decade: floods, storms, you name it. Last year's snowstorm was an especially busy time.

"We probably had 16 loaders, 4 blades. We worked 3 shifts around the clock."

Here's how the partnership works:
When Washoe County, Reno or Sparks needs help in a storm, they call the Associated General Contractors. They will get in touch with WES Construction or 169 other companies that are considered "auxiliary contractors."

Griffin says it's an ideal system that benefits all: "Because in emergency situations such as heavy snowfall or hard rain, we can't work anyway."

Plus, the government agencies save money by not having to own all the equipment: "In the event of an emergency, we have it and it just makes sense because the city does not have to maintain that equipment."

The employees of WES Construction are not "on call" as of Wednesday afternoon, but when this storm rolls in, they most likely will be.

Surprisingly, the partnership system wasn't created for help during snowstorms. After the big flood of '97, the local governments realized they needed more equipment and bodies to help prepare and clean up. Thus a contractor partnership was born.