Largest Texas Sweeper Leads In Innovation

Largest Texas Sweeper Leads In InnovationWhile going to school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, David Franklin and Clyde Jackson started Mister Sweeper in 1965 as a way to make some extra cash. Little did they know this little side job would grow to be the largest privately-owned sweeping operation in Texas.

Tragedy struck in 1979, when Franklin was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a diving accident. Overcoming great odds, he proved doctors wrong and returned to Mister Sweeper to invent two patented products.

“David ran the company for the last 30 years of his life and was the brains behind the innovations at the company,” says Jodie Thompson, owner of Mister Sweeper. “He had an engineer’s mind and would talk the mechanics through building new products.

“The Grime Grinder spits out 200° F water at 3,000 psi. It is a big power washing vehicle that allows us to wash areas quickly. David’s mantra was faster, quicker, easier.”

The Sidekick Blower produces 10,000 cubic feet of air per minute and allows the driver to blow sidewalks and get behind curbstops using controls in the truck. Franklin teamed up with Buffalo Turbine to produce the sidekick.

“It eliminates the need for a second person and gives us an advantage of other sweeping companies. We’ve been using it for about 20 years now and have just started selling it to other sweeper companies within the last six months. It doesn’t work in every situation, but it speeds up workflow and reduces the time it would take for someone to stop the truck, put on a backpack and walk down the sidewalk. The more minutes it takes you at a job, the less you are making.”

“We had a guy come down and watch our guys use it. He put in an order for six units. As soon as people see what it does, they love it.”

Mister Sweeper also designed their own GPS system. “It was a work in progress. When we first implemented it, we had so much data coming back that no one could look at it all—when a guy was in his seat, when the hopper was up and down, and pinging the trucks every second, which got expensive.

“We just went to a new data bundle plan with AT&T that will save us about $700 each month. We were previously on a 10 MB plan per truck and now we have a 4G plan for four trucks. We are able to show the customer more touches and go from three pings per minute to 30 pings per minute.”

“After David was hurt and came back, everyone rallied around him and was loyal,” says Thompson.

That loyalty is evident in the 625 years of combined experienced with their current employees. Mister Sweeper has a core team of 40 employees who each have an average of 15-16 years of experience. “We have a board at our headquarters in Dallas that shows years of service. There are pictures of guys in the 1-5 year category all the way up to 40 years of service. Everyone likes to be recognized and I’m happy to do it.”

Mister Sweeper currently has 83 employees and having 125 pieces of rolling stock between their Dallas and Houston offices. Thompson bought the company in 2006 and they service more than 1,100 properties each month. Their satellite office in Houston is growing and will soon move to a larger space.

Right as the economy started going south, Thompson contracted with a Dallas-area Internet company to produce six videos and to manage the company’s social media presence. “I came up with six topics to highlight. They produced these high-quality videos and posted the to our website and YouTube channel. Unfortunately, after the six months, I couldn’t afford to keep going. The great recession was starting and I hadn’t really seen any benefit. From what I’ve learned, the people who got into social media early, are considered industry experts and kept up with it, have done well. But you have to stick with it for a lengthy period of time and we just didn’t have the resources to commit to it.”

“Tymco makes a great parking lot sweeper,” says Thomspon. “We have just under 40 of them. They make up the majority of our fleet. We also have a few Mascos for sucking up water. We also use Elgin for broom and Python. The big advantage with Python is that they are just under the CDL load requirement. The are almost the same size as a big sweeper and sweep just as well. Texas has fared better than the rest of the nation and our CDL drivers are hard to come by between the oil and natural gas boom. So, the Python was our solution for that.”

“It comes down to doing a good job,” says Thompson. “There is a lot of temptation to get it done super fast; to tell the guys to get it done in 8 minutes and don’t spend any more time than that. But we found that quality suffers. We tell them to clean the property and get it done even if the sales people bid it low. Once you sacrifice quality, you don’t stand on anything. We rarely get a call to resweep and customers are largely satisfied with work we do.”

Franklin’s legacy of innovation continues to live on as Mister Sweeper adapts to the changing conditions of parking lot sweeping.

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