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Welcome to our October 2007 newsletter!

Are you keeping up with all the changes affecting our industry?

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editor

I've recently been consulting on behalf of the Washington DC Department of Public Works as part of that organization's effort to quantitatively conclude what the best three-wheeled sweeper is for their city. The process makes me realize that most municipalities, relatively speaking, either buy what they're sold or choose low bid regardless of their actual wants and needs in a sweeper.

The DC DPW is conducting a pickup testing process using a protocol by Roger Sutherland, and testing between Allianz's MX450 and Elgin's Pelican. In addition, however -- as a recognition that two similar broom machines are likely to be very similar in the amount of material they pick up in a controlled test -- a number of other tests have also been added. These include a check of off-loading capabilities, water on-loading and a number of maneuverability tests designed to see how much surface area can and cannot be reached by each sweeper in corners, when dgoing around parked cars, when sweeping in cul-de-sacs, etc.

Even then, there are a number of other factors that will weigh in on the eventual purchase decision since the two machines, though both of three-wheeled configuration, are so different from each other. In case you don't know it already, the Elgin, for example, is a rear-steer machine with a front-mounted hopper. The Allianz (formerly Johnston) sweeper is a front-steer with a center-mounted hopper -- and it has a larger hopper capacity than the Pelican.

So, even with the other tests in place, DC DPW is faced with an interesting set of internal questions to ask itself. What are the relative importances of these quite substantial differences in how debris pickup is accomplished by the two competing sweepers? Given how debris is picked up and disposed of in the Washington DC area, as well as street widths, parked car density and all the rest, are there any of the basic features of either machine that should be given a huge preference? If so, how is that quantifiable if not through the afore-mentioned testing process? At the end of the day it will be interesting to see which machine gets picked and, even more interestingly, why.

During this process I received an email from Dan Federico, Vice President of Sales for Allianz. In it, Federico outlined some of the things he thinks all buyers of street sweepers should consider. With his permission, I adapted his information to be non-brand specific throughout and we have it for you in this issue's newsletter.

In our ongoing effort to make it easier for you to access our online information, many if not most of our articles now include audio interviews with the participants. The feedback we've received is that you prefer this format to having something written that must be read on your computer screen. Our audio interviews allow you to keep working in the background as you listen to a professional tell you about the latest in their area of specialization.

We have a total of eight of these types of interviews from speakers at this year's American Public Works show. Speaking on topics from the latest washdown regs and techniques to how to get more money from your used sweepers and other fleet vehicles, these interviews combine to provide an enormous amount of usable information for you.

Two of the APWA-based articles are about biodiesel and the experiences of others when it comes to this new fuel and your sweeper fleet. Information on biodiesel has been the most requested topic for call-ins to my office in the last months. So, I also left up a link that was in our last issue to my own award-winning book on this topic, The Rise of Biodiesel. You'll find it's a great overview on this alternate fuel. If you really want to learn about what biodiesel is and is not (and have a spare $20), I suggest you use this link to the publisher and buy a copy.

Two other audio interviews offer information from 20+ year veterans of their particular crafts. Laura Schmitt, currently a property manager for Equity One, Inc., tells us the many reasons why every sweeping company is missing the boat if they don't provide a variety of exterior maintenance services in addition to their core of sweeping. And, Gale Holsman, one of the most successful contractors in America, who has bought and sold a number of sweeping companies through his quarter-century in the business, offers the information you should consider before selling your sweeping company.

I'm also very pleased to bring you news of sweeping in another part of the world, Drammen, Norway. Like most every city located near a water body, Drammen is fighting pavement-based runoff pollution and associated resource degradation. Arild D. Moen, the Chief Engineer of Drammen Municipal Enterprises, offers a look into how the problems are being handled in his part of the world. Moen also provides a glimpse at how a sweeper brand you may have never heard, one that combines broom sweeping with a light suction, of is being used to help make a difference.

Another gem of an article is by Ron Roberts, The Contractors' Coach, who provides a number of ideas about where you can find quality, qualified employees when the time comes to hire. If you're still just putting an ad into your local newspaper, you'll find a host of alternate places and ideas for getting just the right people for the position(s) you need filled.

Finally, we have a link to Roger Sutherland's latest article on the sweeping industry, which has just come out in the relatively new stormwater-related magazine, Storm Water Solutions. As always, Sutherland provides insight into the direction sweeping is headed and what we need to do in order to maximize its value when it comes to combating stormwater runoff pollution.

Our last newsletter issue marked the first where we compiled a pdf link to a print-friendly version of the newsletter that contained all the stories in one pdf file. The idea is to make it easy for our readers to print the articles out and read them at their convenience away from their computer. We're doing the same for this issue, even though many of the stories are audio-based and so have to be listened to in order to get to the meat of the topic. However, the printout will provide you with the background info you need to decide whether or not you want to listen to the rest. You'll find the pdf link at the bottom of the newsletter page.

I'm trying to bring you information you can actually put to use in your sweeping company or municipal sweeping operation. If there's something you'd like us to report about, please let us know. Our goal is to write about what you want to read.

As always, if you have a sweeping-related need please tell us about it. We'll try to assist in any way we can. I routinely reference articles and studies, provide information from my "Fundamentals of the Power Sweeping Business," manual and put contractors and city officials in touch with others who may have answers to their information needs. By the same token, if you have a story you can provide, additional information on any of the topics we've covered – or need more details – please let me know. I'll be glad to help if at all possible.

Good Sweeping!
Ranger's Signature
Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editor

By the way, if you don't have a listing yet in our Contractor Locator section, you are missing out on what is arguably the best advertising value in sweeping. At the same time, you'll be helping to keep online and active. If you're a contractor who uses this website, please help support the site and, at the same time, increase the exposure for your company, by getting a Contractor Locator listing.

And, if you're not yet a naPSa member, we are still offering you an incentive to do so. For a limited time, when you become a member you'll get a $50 discount on any Contractor Locator listing here at

If you like what you read in this newsletter or on the website, be sure to thank the advertisers who sponsored it. The only way for them to know you appreciate their support of is to tell them!

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