Hite of Quality

When Randy Hite began his sweeping career in February 2000, he was an Allstate insurance agent with his own branch. The shopping center in North Carolina, where his business was located, was not being kept up to par. “I kept complaining to the property manager, who we’d already done a few things for,” says Hite. “I talked to my son Matt and we put a proposal together and gave the property manager a quote. Piedmont Property Services was born out of necessity.”

“We had never heard of a sweeper and started out sweeping with Billy Goats,” says Hite. “I wish we had known about NAPSA at the time because it would’ve saved us from making a lot of mistakes. But, we quickly learned. When we got our second client about a year later, we bought a sweeper.

“We started out as a full service property maintenance company with sweeping and landscaping. Eventually we grew into power washing and other auxiliary services to meet the needs of our property managers.”

Hite and his son, Matt Joseph, moved into other areas of sweeping as well, such as industrial and construction. “We joined 1-800-SWEEPER about a year ago and it’s more than paid for itself,” says Hite. “It’s been a good experience for us, because we were looking to expand into the industrial side. It almost instantly put us in that business instead of doing a lot of marketing and advertising. Right now, if you Google ‘sweeping in North Carolina’, 1-800-SWEEPER comes up in the first eight returns so we are getting a lot of business through that.”

Piedmont Property Services also relies on a lot of word-of-mouth referrals. “Property managers tend to talk to each other even though they’re competitors,” says Hite. “So we have a good referral system and have earned a good reputation. We’ve completely stopped our Yellow Pages advertising.”

Hite and Joseph are doing so well in that market that they are looking at buying a heavy-duty truck specifically for industrial. “We are looking at three different manufacturers trying to figure out what gives us the most variety,” says Hite. “Currently, we have eight trucks from Schwarze, Tymco, and Silent Knight.”

In addition to industrial sweeping, Piedmont Property Services has also picked up their first Color Me Rad race. “We’ve swept up after parades and circuses for our local communities for free as a service to our community,” says Hite. “But this will be the first time we’ve ever done anything like this. We’re excited and a bit nervous, but we’ve talked to colleagues that have done it before and they all gave us advice.

“That’s the thing with NAPSA and 1-800-SWEEPER, everyone helps each other out. With the color run, we aren’t going into it in the dark. I’ve learned so much from the association, Nancy, and networking with other contractors. That makes the industry unique because there isn’t a sense of competition—it’s just about the good of the industry. When you are getting ready to buy a $100,000 piece of equipment, it’s nice to know what has worked for others.

“Now that I’m on the NAPSA board of directors, it’s neat to see the inside—to talk to guys that have been in the business a long time and see how they’ve been successful.”

Hite currently serves on the environmental committee at NAPSA and recently received his certification in stormwater management from North Carolina State University. “I pursued the training because in many cities here in North Carolina, you have to have a certificate to push a lawnmower. All of our stormwater runs directly back into the creeks and isn’t treated first. They had a two-day class and at the end was a small segment about sweeping. I think this will have a huge impact on our industry. I’m real excited for the potential it will have down the road.”

Hite’s certification is good for three years, after which he will need to take a ½-day or full-day course (depending on the guidelines at the time) to renew his certification. “The science is changing every day,” says Hite. “They want you to stay on top of the best management practices. Right now, I am certified to repair existing stormwater systems back to their original state.”

“The stormwater management practices will give us more teeth, because what we do will be mandated. The industry has become more regulated on the east coast. I see the environmental end becoming more significant. I also see the markets that have one or two professional competitors as great for the industry because they are able to charge decent rates.

The certification is a part of the company’s larger goal to be a full service company for the property managers. “They really like us being a multi-service company,” says Hite. “We’re small enough to pay attention to details and large enough to respond when we’re needed. We try to exceed expectations. Since the economic downturn, property managers may have 10 to 15 properties instead of six. They want to know that we are going to take care of it when they call.”

To that end, Piedmont Property Services does cold patch asphalt repair work on items like pot holes and curb repair. They also help get offices and other spaces ready for tenant move ins by doing minor sheetrock repair, taking up carpet, and occasionally splitting a unit. “We also show the new tenants around the property,” says Hite. “We have property managers from coast to coast so it’s more affordable to have us do it than for them to fly in. We have a locksmith and others in different trades that we can call, and we supervise the work.

“We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to grow through the downturn. As a business owner, I think that’s the most interesting thing. Sure, we’ve lost business, but we’ve been able to pick it up from others. That, and the fact that we started absolutely from scratch with one shopping center is a testament to these guys who do it. To see what we’ve been able to build is amazing. I’ve had other businesses that weren’t as successful. I think that goes back to our business model of providing good, quality, dependable, on-time service at a reasonable cost. With that, and being full service has really benefitted us in our market place.

“We’ll continue to expand in the industrial market, and broaden our base in parking lot sweeping so if we do see another downturn, we don’t have all our eggs in one basket. And, we are always looking at expanding services that will be attractive to property managers.”

Because they stay within a five to six county area, their response time to a property manager’s call can be quick—usually same day.

“We take pride in the properties we service. We ask ourselves how we would want the property to look if we owned it and go from there. We designed our company to offer affordable, consistent, quality service.”

Story by Jennifer Taylor

Resources

For more information:

Piedmont Property Service: www.piedmontpropertyservices.com
Schwarze: www.schwarze.com
Silent Night: www.sksweepers.com
Tymco: www.tymco.com

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