Power Sweeping the Canadian Way

Located across the waterways from Seattle, Washington is Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, Canada’s third largest island, with a population of approximately 770,000, nearly half of which live in and around Greater Victoria; Victoria being the capital of British Columbia. It is in Victoria that you can find the main office of South Island Power Sweeping Ltd., a privately owned company, and Vancouver Island’s largest and most successful Power Sweeping Company. The company serves the entire southern half of the Island, with additional offices in Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Campbell River and Port Alberni. For this issue we interviewed Mr. Clint Morrish, President and Operations Superintendent of South Island Power Sweeping, Ltd. Here is the interview:

Can you please tell me in your own words a little about the history of South Island Power Sweeping —how it came about, how it developed and expanded, etc.
South Island Power Sweeping Ltd. is a privately held British Columbia corporation. I am the majority owner. The idea of a street cleaning business started in 1989, when I was asked to promote, expand and supervise the street sweeping division. So, in 1992, I purchased all of the needed equipment and collected all of the contracts after realizing the potential the business could do if managed properly. South Island Power Sweeping Ltd. has since added eight power sweepers and I have designed sweepers with multiple options to keep ahead of the competition. In fact, some of my designs and customizations are closer to inventions if you consider that I have a patent pending on a few of them.
The street cleaning industry on Vancouver Island has a year round working schedule due to the warm climate and so, unlike the rest of Canada, the absence of snow and ice allows the company to work year round. When it does snow on Vancouver Island, the addition of de-icing trucks allows for more seasonal work and sales. We have gained a reputation as road and highway cleaning specialists by the public and private sector, employing environmentally friendly road sweeper trucks and products.

Tell me about the main services that South Island Power Sweeping offers on a regular basis.
We fulfill both regular contracts for maintenance services and sweeping and cleaning jobs throughout southern and central Vancouver Island. We have the specialized experience for a wide variety of sweeping and heavy cleaning needs. Through our five offices our sweeping crews take care of all forms of road sweeping, cleaning parking lots (on-ground or underground), heavy construction street cleaning, milling sweeping, chip seal sweeping, catch basin cleaning, skupper hole cleaning on major highways, preparations for asphalt repairs and line painting , and some of our trucks are also designed to provide sanitizing and degreasing of any kind of paved area. To supplement our contracts, we also do landscaping and gardening as well as new types of cleaning that are environmentally friendly and innovative. We take care of both commercial as well as municipal needs, and so you could see our trucks at many of the parking lots, shopping malls, city streets, highways, industrial areas, and commercial areas.

Please give me a sense of how many clients you service—commercial, residential, or industrial—each week or month. How many regular customers do you service on a regular basis?
Some of our satisfied regular clients include: the Dep’t of Fisheries; City of Victoria; Municipality of North Saanich street cleaning and catch basin cleaning; Island Asphalt Limited; City of Nanaimo; University of Victoria; Catalyst Paper-Crofton; Save-on Foods; Regional District of Nanaimo; Victoria International Airport; Timber West; Pacific Coach Lines; Tervita Corp; Esquimalt Graving Docks; Federal Coast Guard jetties; Victoria International Airport ; Ocean Sciences Centre; Regional District of Nanaimo; Department of Fisheries; B.C. Transit parking lots, bus shelters; and the University of Victoria.

What are the keys to your success in coming to dominant in your field on Vancouver Island? Could you please articulate 3-5 principles/guidelines/pointers that you have developed over the years to keep your company in the top class of the power sweeping industry?
First of all, we are very professional, reliable, and innovative and always provide top quality work and we are dependable. We deliver fast response when called for emergencies. We at South Island always do more than what we are asked to do. For us, customer service is our number one priority. All of our operators and technicians are exceptionally experienced and our equipment is well maintained and must be ready to work 24 hours a day. We do not leave until the customer is completely satisfied. South Island Power Sweeping Ltd. is designed to provide a maintenance service to the public and the private sectors any time of the day or night. Its customers are business people who expect to wake up the next morning and see results. That is our guarantee of quality work. Over the years we have diversified greatly and now we can offer multiple services and many times offer to our customers a one-stop-shop for all of their needs.

Do you have a company motto or credo? How would you describe the company’s professionalism and work ethic?
South Island Power Sweeping Ltd. is a service company dedicated to quality at a reasonable rate to our customers. We intend to take these qualities and make a fair return to finance linked with continued growth and development. We also maintain a friendly, fair, and creative work environment, which respects new ideas and hard work.

What are the company’s objectives in the near future?
In the next five years we intend to develop new services and new markets to improve revenues to $500,000 a year. We desire to give South Island Power Sweeping Ltd. the presence needed to support marketing and sales goals expanding further into central and North Vancouver Island. More specifically, we are developing comprehensive marketing initiatives in order to develop new markets in Mill Bay, Duncan, Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Parkville and Courtenay by the end of 2016. We also plan to grow sales to read $60, 000 monthly by the end of the year 2015 and $70,000 monthly by the end of December of 2018.

What is the projected growth of your company?

Here is a list of our recently derived projected company growth:
Please give me a sense of the organizational structure of the company in terms of management and staff. Who works at the company? What are their titles?
Each one of our employees has 15 years of experience in the field in street cleaning and working for multiple contractors. Barry Gulleckson is our number one operator. Keith Armstrong is the best milling machine operator on Vancouver Island with 35 years in the paving industry. Brian Hamilton works as an operator and landscaper. Al Gee is a street sweeper operator. Doug Petch is both a street sweeper operator and our resident arborist. Guy Gore-Langton is a professional gardener, having worked 30 years for the City of Victoria. Dave Blair is our head mechanic. Bruce Hamilton is head of repairs and maintenance. Plus, we have a small group of dedicated technicians that support the master operators and technicians. We could not be the company we are without the dedicated service of our loyal and hard-working employees.

Tell me a little bit about the day-to-day operations. What typically goes on at a job site? Give me the run down on what your workers do, how they do it, etc?
For specialized chip seal sweeping our street sweeper cleans up the excess stone chips on rural roads that have been put down to seal the road from frost or moisture. For heavy construction cleanup our street sweeper cleans heavy mud and clay that has been dragged onto streets and highways by trucks and heavy equipment working on new developments. The use of high pressure power wash systems do exceptional clean up. Our staff arborist on staff is ready at hand to design and service any commercial property management job or municipal landscaping and gardening needs, such as along streets and in between highways. Our vacuum sweepers with 3 000 P.S.I. cleaning systems are used on ferry decks, gas stations and loading bays, at grocery stores, as well as at hospitals. Our emergency vacuum sweeper truck has been used on major highways to clean up after oil spills and vehicle accidents.

Tell me all about the power sweeping equipment, machinery, technologies and products that you use in offering your numerous services.
South Island’s Power Sweeping’s fleet of street cleaning trucks is based on a fleet of ten Johnson 650 Series vacuum sweepers. These street sweepers meet or exceed government and municipal expectations. Our dedication to the same brand has saved us thousands in parts because they all interchange. In addition to the standard cleaning equipment, four trucks have been upgraded with a powerful pressure wash system located underneath the sweeper, which provides a superior clean-up. Each sweeper has the technology to spray down an environmentally safe degreaser or sanitizer. Most of our street sweepers have been modified to have multiple options and to travel at highway speeds. My philosophy in the sweeping industry has always been to innovate and diversify! Why have a great piece of machinery and have it operate in only one manner? Why not turn each truck you have into a real workhorse, a powerhouse of innovation and diversification? That has been the question in my mind since I have been in the business, over 30 years now, and, while it hasn’t been easy, it has turned to work out successfully for me, my company, and South Island.
We are proud to have the most powerful sweeper on Vancouver Island which is mounted with a high pressure water wash and scrub system and an extra weed removal broom which outshines our competition. It is a 2005 Johnson 650. It has been modified to include a weed eater, gutter broom using hydraulic power boost and 1 inch cables to sweep and weed simultaneously, which saves time and money for our clients while boosting our profits by allowing us to take on more jobs.
The fleet includes one environmental emergency response truck that can wash and scrub a 10ft. wide path with 3,000 psi after oil spills and vehicle accidents. Our vacuum sweepers can clean a street and then convert over to a catch basin cleaning truck, do high pressure washing and scrubbing as well as take on degreasing and sanitizing jobs, all from the same truck. These are customizations that I created and invented. This leads to increased productivity and revenue due to our trucks having this versatility and variety of options.
According to local environmental regulations catch basins must be cleaned annually and our trucks are available 24/7. Our sweeper trucks are also modified to do scupper cleaning, cleaning water drain holes in the middle of the highway. Another one of our 2005 Johnson 650s is designed to meet the strict environmental standards to allow us to do work on federal government properties which have huge docking bays, which are soiled by hundreds of seagulls resting at night. It has been modified to be allowed onto very sensitive, high-security areas. It uses environmentally safe hydraulic oil, it sprays a sanitizer if needed to kill bacteria and germs, and it is rigged with special lights for high visibility and night work. It is custom rigged with three spray bars. The first spray bar can lay down a sanitation spray for germ free food loading areas for the docked icebreakers; the second spray bar is for a degreaser spray; and the third bar sprays a 3000 psi water wash for heavy construction road clean up. In fact, with the help of this truck and its customizations, we have received an exclusive multi-year contract with The Department of Fisheries and the Coast Guard, which requires a security clearance, and it means that we are the only contractor permitted to work on the docks on a regular basis.
Three of these trucks are on a Freightliner chassis with a John Dear back sweeper motor, which is monitored by an inboard computer system located in the cab. These trucks are also set up with sanitizer and road degrease systems. We have two more 650 Johnson freightliner trucks using Perkins back engines and are also loaded with 4000 psi of road wash capacity. The remaining five trucks are all Johnson sweepers mounted on Mack frames with Perkins back motors and Renault front motors.

You can find out more about South Island Power Sweeping Ltd by visiting their website: http://sweepingpower.com/

Story by Mark Joseph Manion