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The History of the Sweeping Industry

Mike Dyck Reminisces on 40+ Years Selling Parking Area Sweepers and Sweeping

Mike Pic With Name

"It's the easiest thing in the world to tell you about me and my opinions. It's something know a lot about." So says Mike Dyck in his opening statement in the Zoomcast linked below.

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Mike Dyck graduated from University of Oregon in the late 1970s with an Education degree. His brother, Larry Dyck, was a schoolteacher at San Jose High School.

A man named Leonard Vella owned a parking lot sweeping company called San Jose Commercial Sweeping and Larry built race boats for him on the side. These Vella raced under the name 'Mr. Sweeper' since that's what he did for a business.

In those days, which marked the early days of parking lot sweeping, TYMCO sweepers were the only ones that were well known in the market. And, they were more known as street sweepers. For Leonard, the cost of fuel used in his sweeper was a big deal and he was always looking for some way to reduce that expense.

Toward that end, Leonard and Larry came up with a design for a small sweeper they initially fit onto a Ford Courier, a small pickup that did not have much power. However, the sweeper module swept well and, mounted onto the Courier, it swept cheap. So much so that when people heard about the little sweepers and saw them in action, they wanted to buy them.

To meet this demand, Larry and Leonard started a sweeper manufacturing company they called 'Mr. Air Sweeper' company. Business was good so it wasn't long until Larry quit teaching high school and started making sweepers full time. Then, "I came to work to help out one summer," says Mike, "and stayed for 35 years."

During those many decades with Mr. Air Sweeper — now MASCO — Mike became one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet on the topic of parking area sweeping.

"I found out quickly [selling Mr. Air Sweepers around the US] how different sweeping is in different parts of America. In the '90s we changed the name of the company to MASCO because we started selling mechanical broom sweepers in addition to our previous vacuum-type models."

Mike says he headed out to sell sweepers throughout what he calls "the smile states," starting in Washington State and going south through California then east across Texas and the Gulf states and up through the eastern seaboard. This he did driving a shiny black Datsun pickup with a tilt-dump sweeper on the back, since it was before high dump sweepers had been invented.

In about 1981 he went to his first APWA convention, which was in Kansas City. Finding himself among so many other people in the industry was a real revelation to him, Mike says. And, there was a good bit of interest in the little sweeper he was driving.

At the same time, it was quite a change of life to find himself suddenly in the world of business since in addition to going to college the previous 10 years Mike had been living off and on in Latin America; in Paraguay and some other South American countries. And he, like many others of his age in that time period, had "long hair and lots of beard and didn't even own a suit." In short, the business life was not one he was particularly suited to inhabit.

Nonetheless, after the convention he went off to do demonstrations up toward New Jersey and then to the East Coast. Along the way he gained what he calls "some of the first of many lessons showing I didn't know all there was about sweeping a parking lot. In one place I swept, it was the first time I'd been somewhere with a lot of sand. The sweeper picked it up just fine, but once I'd pretty much filled the hopper the little Datsun didn't even want to move. That was a problem."

To hear more stories about the early days of parking area sweepers and sweeping – including his demonstration for Mayor Ed Koch in NYC ‐ you are invited to watch and/or listen to the captivating, hour-long Zoomcast with Mike Dyck and myself we conducted for this area of the WorldSweeper website. For your convenience, the YouTube link is shown below. You may choose between watching the interview on YouTube or, if you'd prefer, click here to listen to just the audio portion (will open in a new tab).

SweepcoLogo150 As of 2021, Mike had 'retired' to being the owner/operator of SweepCo, based in the Santa Cruz/San Francisco area of California. SweepCo is a full-service sweeping and site maintenance company.



Starting in March of 2021, Mike Dyck consented to become a member of the World Sweeping Association's Advisory Board. WSA Members will be able to utilize Mike's knowledge in ways that will help them become more professional in running their respective sweeping companies. For membership and other information about WSA, go here.

Also, we're always on the lookout for more sweeper-oriented information we can add to the website, so keep us in mind if you find interesting information about sweeping.

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