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Profiles in Parking Area Sweeping

Phil Hicks Sweeping Goes Small to Grow Bigger

Sweeping contractor finds adding a Green Machine to be a good move.

by Gary Keen

Phil Hicks Fleet Photo

Phil Hicks knows that going the extra mile is the best way to keep sweeping contracts and to get new business. That is why he added a Green Machine compact sidewalk sweeper to his fleet of two Schwarze S-348's and an A-4000. Phil is a successful sweeping contractor in Ohio who counts several Walmart Superstores as customers. However, with the Green Machine he saw a way he could both improve his service and set himself apart from his competition.

Many of his sites had sidewalks that he could not reach with his larger trucks. Additionally, the malls in his area have curb dividers and cart corrals in the parking lot that act as a natural trap for leaves and other wind-borne debris.

"I was actually looking for something to do sidewalks on the Internet," says Hicks. "I put 'sidewalk sweepers' in and the Green Machine came up. I called Applied Sweepers and told them I needed a demo of their 525, that I wanted to see how it would work on my whole route. I knew it wouldn't be good if I could only use the sweeper in a couple of places. Walt Lojeski, from Applied Sweepers, was here in a couple of days and I found that the machine worked really well."

Photo 2

In four-season Ohio, leaves were a particular problem for Hicks. "We used to use back-pack leaf blowers. As we would be finishing one area, the wind would come up and blow the leaves right back." Now Hicks uses his Green Machine compact unit on curbs and sidewalks when the leaves fall. "It does a tremendous job on that. It actually holds more than my other big machines."

Another problem the 525 solves for Hicks is the requirement for daytime sweeping when cars and pedestrians are using his customers' sites. "In the Walmart parking lot, we go right in between cars with it. We'll even drive it into the cart corrals. I can clean up in the corners of the curbs. With big sweepers you have to hop out, blow it out and sweep it up. With the Green Machine, we just keep right on moving." Another advantage cited was that the quieter sweeper means fewer disturbances for the customers. All this and air conditioning, too?

"For daytime work, the air conditioning system really comes in handy," offered Hicks. A comfortable operator means longer work periods and fewer breaks. While Hicks won't say he has picked up any new contracts since he purchased the sweeper, he does say "I'm doing jobs I couldn't do before. We have a mall with a really long sidewalk that goes in between the buildings. It used to stay packed full of leaves and I had to start at one end and blow it all out. Now, I just run the sweeper down once and it's all clean. They see that little sweeper all the time.

"I used it to improve the quality of what I'm already doing. It takes care of my sidewalks a lot faster than I could do by hand or by blowing out. I get the sites a lot cleaner and I can get into places I can't with other trucks."

Hicks' only advertising is the lettering on his trucks. He is quick to admit that having his customers see the "little machine all the time" has added to his retention of existing customers. "Because my customers see me out there with the sweeper, they're keeping me because of it."

Besides the large malls and stores, Hicks has other customers who can benefit from the compact sweeper. "I use it, now, on my smaller jobs. I can do the whole parking lot a lot faster than I can with my bigger trucks." And, for Hicks, faster means increased efficiency and increased profits.

Speaking of profits, how are maintenance costs with the smaller sweeper? Hicks says,"Operating costs are better. Fuel cost is a lot less. Brooms last a pretty good while. The rest of the maintenance part is pretty easy."

These days, with the rising cost of fuel, the much leaner Green Machine means fuel usage is brought way down. "It does what I wanted it to do. It works great and the company has been awesome to work with."

So, does that mean that Hicks would recommend this type of sweeper to other sweeping contractors? "I've already recommended it to two other contractors, one in Utah and the other in Texas," Hicks told us. "The unit works perfect for what it is supposed to be used for."

That pretty much sums it up for Phil Hicks. The Green machine has become a useful addition to his full-service sweeping company and solved several problems that put him ahead of the competition. So would he buy another? Well, "I'd like to see the 636," says Hicks. "That's the latest addition to the Green Machine lineup." No doubt Applied Sweeper will oblige.

This article is reprinted from Allied Paving Equipment magazine.

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