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67 Fallkill Avenue / Poughkeepsie, NY / 845-454-3731 / info@northsidesupplies.net

City company beats ice with beets

pougheepsie-journal
 by Craig Wolf

Beet juice beats ice.

Northside Supplies wins Business Excellence Award for ice-control innovation.

Who woulda thunk it? But a Poughkeepsie company has found that mixing a beet byproduct with salt brine makes a useful pretreatment for roads when an icing condition is expected.

Northside Supplies pioneered this business in Dutchess County and now can boast an award for doing so.

It’s the winner of a Business Excellence Award in the category of innovation, given by the Dutchess County Economic Development Corp., or EDC. It’s one of 10 awards that grow out of this annual program, designed to focus the spotlight on achievement in the local economy.

You’ve probably seen Northside’s handiwork if you drive around the Town of Poughkeepsie in winter when the weather forecast warns of ice or even snow that may pack down to ice. The town is a customer of Northside’s service, which uses a mix called Ice Bite.

Town Highway Superintendent Marc Pfeifer said in a letter that Poughkeepsie has used Northside for four winters “with great results.”

What is it? It looks like someone has sprayed neat strips of liquid on the asphalt, giving the road a striped look. You may have seen this effect on Route 9 or other highways, which are maintained by the state Department of Transportation and which use straight brine.

Cathy Maloney, president of the sponsor, EDC, said, “For the past few years, I’ve been noticing the stripes on the roads prior to snow storms; it was so neat to make the connection between the stripes and a local business.”

Northside Supplies wins Business Excellence Award for ice-control innovation.
Northside’s product is 80 percent salt brine and 20 percent from sugar beet processing byproducts. Farms grow the beets for sugar, but after the sugar is extracted, there are leftovers. These are made into an additive that manufacturers say lowers the freezing point of a brine solution as well as the cost.

Patrick Gleason, one of the owners of Northside Supplies, says the solution works by preventing water from freezing fast to the road surface.

patrick-gleason

“It will not let the snow and ice bond to the road,” Gleason said. The treatment plan is to send the spray truck out before the snow comes and treat the dry road. Then, whenever the storm starts, the surface is protected against the kind of quick freezes that may otherwise occur.

The alternative is that crews have to be called in, go to their trucks and then out on the roads, which can take two or three hours, especially if it’s overnight, Gleason said.

“You’ve now got three hours of snow, it’s cold, and it turns to ice,” he said.
Northside got into the beet-and-brine business as a spinoff of the Gleason family’s enterprises, which include material supply for road and landscaping work, excavation, highway and site construction divisions.

Dan Tissiere, manager of Northside, is looking at setting up a second tank truck rig to be able to take on more business.

“I think this product is cutting edge, and the tip of the iceberg,” Tissiere said.
Northside has also done work for Dutchess Community College and the Hyde Park schools.
The company was nominated by Katie Gleason, part of the family business. She said that as far as they know, Northside is the only company in the state that is using this particular product. The maker, Univar, claims it improves the safety of roads and reduces corrosion because there’s less salt and thus reduces the salt cost.
“It reduces the environmental impact traditional methods cause,” she said.

Northside also works with a company called Road Solutions in Chicago which uses Northside to make salt brine that finds its way to customers at various points across the country. Northside is investing in another brine maker in hopes of expanding this aspect.

The winter work helps keep the company busier during a season when the construction materials business is slow, Patrick Gleason said. This helps keep people on the payroll.

“The more work we do, the more we can keep going,” he said.

Originally appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal on Sept 13, 2014


Craig Wolf: 845-437-4815; cwolf@poughkeepsiejournal.com; Twitter: @craigwolfPJ

BIO
Name: Northside Supplies
Winner: Innovation, Business Excellence Award
Business: Road and landscape supplies, Ice Bite road brine treatments
Location: Yard at 67 Fallkill Ave., City of Poughkeepsie
Founded: 2002
Owners: Thomas, Laura and Patrick Gleason