Ohio’s Contract Sweepers & Equipment Clear and Clean Solutions

Gerry Kesselring, president and CEO of Contract Sweepers & Equipment in Ohio, does not mince words when he says, “Graffiti is bad for business from any and all vantage points. No one wants to work or shop in buildings or neighborhoods where this loosely termed art form or ‘tag,’ as it is called on the street, is present.”

Graffiti removal is just one of the many services Kesselring’s company offers, but one that is more increasingly needed, particularly in cities since the downturn in the economy. “We can’t stress enough to our clients and customers the importance of prompt removal,” he says. “When the tagger realizes that his or her “work” is short-lived in a lot or on a building, they will go elsewhere with their paints. And, it is cost-effective for the customer because it reduces the need for our services over time.” Kesselring is dedicated to educating his clients and customers about the fact that, “prompt removal of graffiti goes hand-in-hand with sweeping commercial or industrial sites clean of all types of debris and litter. A lot, shopping center or industrial site’s appearance can have a profound effect on a property’s value.”

50 Years and Counting

Founded in 1960, Contract Sweepers celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2010, and Kesselring has been with the company for more than half of those years. “Following my graduation from Ohio State, I landed a job with the original owners of Contract Sweepers and figured that within three years I could learn great business skills and then move on,” he says. “But time had a way of slipping away from me, and here I am today, 25 years later.”

As the largest NAPSA-certified sweeping contractor in the state with two main offices, one in Columbus and the other in Cincinnati, the company’s territory and free on-site demonstrations also extend to northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana, as well. Originally a family-owned company, Contract Sweepers restructured in 2004 to become an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or ESOP. “In terms of our upper management structure, as CEO, I work closely with our CFO and our two division managers,” says Kesselring, “but this plan means that every employee is an owner, and vested in every aspect of our business. We currently employ approximately 90 people, but much of our business is seasonal, therefore, that number can fluctuate.”

Scrubbing In

Contract Sweepers licensed and insured fleet of sweepers offers comprehensive services for shopping centers, office parks, municipalities, state and local government sites, construction and industrial sites. The services include street and lot sweeping, floor sweeping and scrubbing, winter and other bad weather services, power washing and graffiti removal. “Our cleaning units use state-of-the-art technology to reduce the quantity of water needed by recapturing and recycling, an important environmental consideration,” says Kesserling. “We also rent, lease, repair and sell commercial and industrial sweeping equipment.” Contract Sweepers is authorized to sell the entire line of Tymco™ street sweepers, plus other brands of new and used equipment. The company offers cleaning chemicals for sale and will help customers with a preventative maintenance program for dispensing those chemicals.

A Landmark Cleaning

Contract Sweepers innovative and combined methods of removing graffiti with Armex® blasting, chemical cleaning, power washing (up to 3000psi), and repainting earned them the contract to clean the historic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati during a seven-month restoration project in 2006. Completed and opened in 1866, the bridge spans the Ohio River connecting Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky, and was the predecessor to Roebling’s famous Brooklyn Bridge.

Adapting is Asset
In a March 2010 interview with Columbus Business First, Kesselring was asked about the state of his business in relation to that of his commercial real estate customers. While still admitting concern a little more than a year later, he says, “the biggest asset I can bring to my company is the ability to formulate and adapt good ideas in an ever-changing environment through all the peaks and valleys, and to remain optimistic, but also realistic about economic recovery. Kesselring adds, “I know that cleaning and maintenance budgets have been cut both in the public and private sectors, but we are here to help our customers operate and to provide successful solutions by working within those budgets, particularly in the environmental regulatory area. If a company or municipality is unable to purchase our equipment, we give them the option of renting or leasing. We can tailor service contracts to reflect their resources and needs without compromising our excellent reputation.”

Important Alliance
Kesselring is excited about a new venture which he believes will sharpen Contract Sweepers competitive edge. “We recently joined 1-800-SWEEPER, a newly formed service network of independently owned power sweeping companies throughout the USA. With a unified marketing and service structure, a customer can contract for a wide variety of either one-time or on-going contracted sweeping services of the highest quality through a single point of purchase.” This combined initiative will make it possible for big box, or chain retail stores such as Best Buy, Target and Rite Aid’s facility management staff to deal directly with an individual store’s local sweeping service providers and thereby eliminate third-party management companies or “middleman” added costs. Kesserling notes, “By joining this initiative we can have greater impact by engaging in group purchasing of parts, supplies and fuel. I am very excited about this alliance as it will give us leveraged buying power keeping our costs as well as our customers’ costs down.”

Eye to the Future
If he could change one thing about the future of Contract Sweepers, says Kesserling, “it would be to redefine people’s perception about our industry to distinguish us, and our function, from landscaping contractors. Our personnel are on site more than any other contractors through all seasons. We are the companies’ eyes and ears, alerting them to potential problems regarding lot or site conditions and changes in a building’s structure before these issues escalate into costly major repairs. We are, simply put, our customers and clients’ best friend.”

For more information, log on to www.sweepers.com, or call 1-800-227-7977.

Story by Daurelle Golden Harris