DSS Sweeping (Dayton Sweeping)

A decade ago, Viki and Kevin Kroeger believed they had what it takes to be entrepreneurs. They’ve been proven right. Today, they are CEO (Viki) and President (Kevin—“Yes,” he says, “I work for my wife”) of their own successful company, DSS Sweeping Inc. in Dayton, Ohio.

“Kevin and I were looking to buy a business that fit our skills: Kevin’s background is in engineering and sales, and mine is in finance,” Viki says. “And we wanted a business where we could make a positive impact pretty quickly. We found this.”

Dayton Sweeping was started in 1972, by a one-man sweeper operator. When the wife-and-husband Kroeger team purchased it in 1999, it had a workforce of seven.

“Like a lot of people outside the industry, before this, we were blind to parking lot sweeping, never thought about it, didn’t even know it was done. But we built the company quickly. We’ve doubled our employees, from the original seven to our current fourteen, and have doubled revenues as well. I can’t believe it’s been ten years.”

Sweeping and more
“Our core business is parking lot and construction sweeping. We also provide snow removal services and have recently added power washing and landscape maintenance, based on customer need. In addition, for a few select customers with specific property management needs, we provide a variety of other services that we subcontract and oversee.”

DSS regularly sweeps at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio, as a subcontractor on construction projects. In 2009, the company also did construction sweeping at Dayton International Airport as a subcontractor. The remainder of DSS Sweeping’s clients are within a two-hour radius of Dayton for construction sweeping and within a one-hour radius for parking lot sweeping, covering seventeen Greater Dayton and Greater Cincinnati counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.

“Our parking lot customers are shopping centers, strip malls and big-box stores like Walmart. Besides construction clean-up jobs, we subcontract on municipal projects. Our ideal customer is one who wants the job done right. Usually, these are property managers, who are less hampered by costs and driven more by the quality of the work.”

Viki, who is responsible for strategic planning and budgeting, gets a kick out of her work. “I really like strategic planning. I’m a very organized, detail-oriented person, so I like generating ideas, coming up with a plan, and then watching the plan come to fruition.

“We are very quality driven. We believe in communicating with the customer, finding out what the needs are and then meeting those needs, instead of offering just a flat service.”

Change can be good

What advances has Viki seen in the industry?

“I think GPS technology has made a significant impact, providing us with a huge opportunity to improve our operations and cut costs, especially since GPS has become more cost-effective. We use it to assist us with billing and routing.”

To her relief, the economic downturn hasn’t impacted DSS’s business as much as she feared it might. “Only a few of our customers have cut services completely, while others have reduced services, but not significantly. And fortunately, some property managers see the downturn as their chance to let go of ineffective contractors and hire us to do a better job. We’ve seen the downturn as a growth opportunity and have hired a sales executive to generate new business. We are also pursuing projects funded with stimulus dollars.”

She believes strongly that one of their key skills is their willingness to learn from others, especially when faced with challenges. “We had a big problem with turnover a few years ago. Parking lot sweeping can be a tough job, working at night on your own. We’d train the new hires, but after two or three nights, they wouldn’t come back.

“We’re involved members of NAPSA, so we took some of the best practices of companies across the country, tweaked them to meet our needs, and implemented them. Now, we describe the job better in all our hiring materials so applicants fully understand it before they’re hired. It’s reduced our turnover by half, and now we have quality people who are really proud of the work they do.”

DSS Sweeping, majority owned and run by a woman, is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Encouraging Diversity, Growth & Equity (EDGE) and is a NAPSA Certified Sweeping Company. For more information, visit the website: www.DSS-Sweeping.com.

 Story by Anne Biggs