Jacketta Sweeping—A Family’s Natural Resource

Mining for Success

Debbie Jacketta grew up in the sweeping business around Salt Lake City, Utah, a state known for its natural resources.

“My dad started Jacketta Sweeping in 1968 and ran it out of our home,” says Jacketta. “I grew up with sweepers in the driveway—it’s how everyone knew where I lived—and answering the business calls that came to the house. When I learned to type in junior high, my mom let me help with the invoices.”

In 1978, Jacketta’s dad moved the business into a shop. “By then I was in high school and had already lost interest in the business,” says Jacketta. “It was just my dad’s job.”

But by late 1980, Jacketta gave birth to her first son and wanted to cover her car payment so she turned to a natural resource—the family business. “My mom wanted help with the book keeping which she still did out of the house. So, I took my son along with me and helped out a few hours a week.”

A Diamond in the Rough

Two years later, Jacketta’s responsibilities increased and she began working out of the shop. A sweeping association began to form which was part of a garbage association. “We joined the association, connecting with other sweepers and I began to educate myself about sweeping,” says Jacketta. “I learned from others about how big some of the companies were.”

She started taking accounting, management and marketing from a local college at night. “I got a divorce in 1988 and needed to make more money,” says Jacketta. “I liked the flexibility that working at Jacketta Sweeping afforded. I could go to the kids’ school when I needed to and work around their schedules.”

Jacketta’s dedication to learning about owning a business and sweeping paid off. By the late 1990s, the sweeping association was then under the American Public Works Association and Jacketta served as president. In 2002, she took over the company making it a woman-owned business and eventually got certified as a Disadvantage Business Enterprise and winning coveted government contracts.

Last month, she was named Woman Business Owner of the Year by the Salt Lake chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Different Facets

Jacketta Sweeping started out sweeping parking lots and streets. “Dad’s first sweeper was a ride-on, but he quickly got a Mobil and started working with construction companies,” says Jacketta.

They continue to sweep parking lots and construction and have added municipal sweeping and scrubbing. “We do power washing and striping for a few customers because they just want to bill and work with one vendor, but we sub it out,” says Jacketta. “We do what we do and stick to that. I’ve seen other companies expand into other services and it didn’t go well. We know how to sweep. The bulk of our business is construction and road work, and we’ve been doing business with some of our customers for 40 years. Their businesses have grown and we’ve been able to grow with them.

“My dad always did whatever it took to get the job done. He would stay up all night putting a truck back together to have it ready to go the next morning. I try to instill that into our employees. We do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.”

Tools of the Trade

Jacketta feels that one of the things that sets them apart from the competition is their equipment. “We have newer equipment that is well taken care of and we have a large variety. We had a lot of snow this year and the lots were really dirty. We brought in our street sweepers to clean up some parking lots that parking lot sweepers couldn’t pick up. Because of that, we are on the verge of turning several companies into regular customers.

Jacketta Sweeping owns eight street sweepers from Elgin: two Crosswinds, one Broom Bear and five Road Wizards. They also have three TYMCO parking lot sweepers (210 and 435) and a Power Boss warehouse sweeper for parking lot structures where you can’t get in a bigger sweeper.

They also own a scrubber. “It’s like a sweeper but it uses water and soap to scrub the floor. It’s great for cleaning up tire tracks.”

“It’s a hard thing to find a sweeper,” says Jacketta. “I have pretty good relationships with my local TYMCO and Elgin dealers. For awhile, we had a hard time finding a mechanic with the skill set that our mechanic has now and relied on our dealers to keep us up and running.”

Mining Their Resources

To remain competitive, Jacketta Sweeping offers increased communication while keeping costs low. “We have a full staff and 24-hour dispatcher. So, customers can get in touch with us at any time. However, we found that this was one area that needed improvement. I hired a lean management consultant that figured out how we can improve our processes to cut down on mistakes that cost us money.”

Jacketta Sweeping employees 11 to 12 people year-round and up to 20 during the summer. Because of the expense of hiring new people, they like it when it works out for people to come back each year. “We have a core group,” says Jacketta. “One guy has been here for 17 years; some for 10 years, and a hand full have been here a few years. We usually end up hiring two to five brand new people a year and decide at the end of the season if we want them back. About 25 percent don’t come back. Right now, I have a guy that worked the night shift the past six years. I also have a couple of students, and should have them for two to three years while they’re in college. We are also working with a consultant to figure out where the break even point is between paying overtime and hiring another person.”

Just like the state she grew up in, Jacketta utilizes the resources she has to make the most of her treasures.

Story by Jennifer Taylor


For more information:
■ Elgin, visit www.elginsweeper.com
■ TYMCO, visit www.tymco.com
■ Power Boss, visit www.powerboss.com