Bramble Sweeping Marries Service, Caring and Hard Work

Jodi and Paul Bramble’s twenty-year marriage has been defined, in many ways, by their sweeping business. If it weren’t so corny, you might even say they swept each other off their feet. Together they’ve been building their parking lot sweeping and maintenance business in the Philadelphia area since 1984—that’s twenty-six years ago, if you’re doing the math.

“We bought our first sweeping truck before we got married,” Jodi remembers. Today, they have thirty employees and about twenty-eight vehicles for sweeping, pressure-washing, landscaping and snowplowing. But at its core, Bramble Sweeping owes its success and steady growth to the same values that keep a marriage strong and vital: earnest, caring people who work at their relationships.

“We strive to connect personally with our clients,” says Jodi, who runs the office and serves the company as Vice President (Paul is President). “It’s something that sets Bramble Sweeping apart from other companies. This way, we learn how we can help them achieve their goals.

“Instead of just coming in to sweep, for example, we will notice areas that could use pressure-washing, signage that needs to be cleaned or replaced. We are the eyes for the property managers and owners, since we are on the property regularly, as well as when management typically is not. We develop a partnership with them that benefits us both.”

For Jodi—who was running an ice cream shop when she met Paul—and for Paul—who started out with a janitorial business—the “partnership” feature also makes the job far more satisfying overall.

Give me a challenge
Jodi takes pleasure in the fact that something comes up every day to make her job different from the day before. “I like to handle a challenge. If there’s an issue that comes up, I enjoy finding a way to make my client happy or to bring harmony to my crew. It could be an oil spill that needs to be handled or an issue with line-striping or power-washing. My goal with my employees is to make them feel part of our team, because what they bring adds value to the whole business and to all of us.”

There was one challenge the Brambles faced that went far beyond solving a minor equipment issue or correcting a mistake with a client. Eight years ago, Paul broke his femur—the thigh bone— and has spent literally years dealing with the repercussions of the injury.

“It was the height of winter, and he was out of commission for nine months. Prior to that, Paul had always been on top of it all, especially snowplowing jobs.” He eventually had four surgeries, the last one just a few years ago. “Our mechanic, supervisor, drivers, our nephew—they all pulled together,” Jodi recalls with deep appreciation. “They kept everything clean and running, with no slack in the line.”

Retaining employees and clients
Bramble’s experienced, alert, committed personnel are cross-trained on all the clients’ routes and—not coincidentally—treated with respect and high regard by management. The result, as Jodi and Paul have observed, is minimal turnover and a more stable company. “We take care of each other; there’s a sense of community all around.”

That community approach naturally extends to the clients. As Jodi explains, “I always follow up. It’s my way to make sure the job is done properly. It goes both ways, really, to clients and to employees.”

A checklist—which employees turn in with their daily reports—helps ensure that every step is completed and that problems or potential issues are noted so the property manager or owner can be notified. In addition to a full-time mechanic in the shop, Bramble’s Sweeping maintains two back-up sweepers—virtually eliminating the risk of missing scheduled sweeps.

Advancements at home
“We deal with a lot of corporate chains, but also a lot of smaller companies and business owners with whom we have a personal relationship,” Jodi says. “We resolve our issues immediately, so we make their customers happy and we make our clients happy, too.” However, with the difficult economic situation so widespread, Jodi has found a lot of clients who are trying to cut costs. “A lot of them tell us, ‘We’ll keep you on but for twenty percent less,’ which is common.”

Meanwhile, in the midst of these challenges and changes, the Brambles are planning—make that hoping—for a late fall groundbreaking for their new shop in Bensalem Township, outside of Philadelphia. It’s slated to include mechanic and garage bays and the office for employee check-in. Since it’s on the same site as the current operations, Jodi will find herself in an office trailer for the duration of the renovation.

Bramble Sweeping recently began a major website overhaul as well. The new site, www.BrambleSweeping.com, is gradually shaping up, with a new logo, new images and new copy.

Advancements in the industry
In addition to focusing upon the company’s offices and website, Jodi also recognizes the huge value in two industry-wide technologies: the growth of GPS and of low-noise, more environmentally friendly sweeping equipment. “GPS [global positioning systems] allows us to stay on top, to save on payroll and to make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

However, for all the benefits of new technologies, it’s really the values that the owners have made central to the business that make the real difference.  “When it comes down to it, people are still people, and relationship is still important.” Sort of like a marriage.

For more information on Bramble Sweeping, visit www.BrambleSweeping.com, or call 215.245.8940.

 

 

By Anne Biggs

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