Interview With Cheryl Monroe CEO of Sweep Masters

How did your company start out? Speak a little bit about who founded your company.
Don Odom started Sweep Masters in 1996; I came along in 2003. I began working in the office, and eventually learned the business as time went on. I became a partner in 2005, right before hurricane Katrina. After that storm, it changed everything because we only had five accounts left. Don and I worked together without employees for two whole years, until things could start to grow again. Once New Orleans was rebuilt with an influx of new businesses and people, our company started to do much better. I became the CEO in 2015.

Why did you get into the power sweeping industry? Was there a moment that springs to mind?
It was a fluke, really. Don used to be a police officer, so essentially he was just out looking for a new career to start. He saw this old tank abandoned on some property and thought it was a vac truck to suck out sewer drains. He called the number on the data plate, which happened to be Schwarze Industries. Don Harvey guided him through the process, and the rest is history. Our business was born.

What is your business model that you follow? Your total employees and office locations?
Our business model is “maintenance matters”…in everything we do. Maintain yourself, your equipment, and your contracts. It’s a three-fold approach to getting our work done. In turn, they will take care of you. There are five of us total, and we have locations in Gulfport, MS and Theodore, AL. We are a small company, but we have a lot going for us.

How much growth has your business sustained in recent years with the upswing in the economy after around 2008?
We have had steady growth each year, since 2010. We opened the office in Alabama one year ago, and the response has been steady. Our goal is to add two more employees and another nightly route in 2017. So, as long as we’re adding to our work load, it’s only going to get better.

How do you find new customers? Does your client roster change much?
Most of our customers come from our website. Occasionally, I will go out and solicit work by calling a potential client and asking if they are happy with what they have. We always strive to get new clients wherever possible.

How many contracts do you work on at your company per week?
I would say it’s around 65 per week.

Have you added on any new services lately? Anything in particular come to mind?
Not at this time. We do sub out things we get asked to do, but don’t want to handle. It’s just better to focus on what we do best. Our main service is parking lot sweeping and property maintenance. The goal is to keep your total property as “pristine” as possible! We also do regular street sweeping and construction clean-up.

How did you arrive at creating a unique brand for your company? Define what makes you stand out from all the rest of the sweeping companies.
We just knew we didn’t want to be like any of our competitors. Unfortunately, in our area, sweeping is not taken seriously, due to the lack of professional contractors. We have been fortunate enough to change that, one customer at a time, by educating them on what we can do, and what they should expect from any contractor they choose.

Tell me a little bit about the daily operations and how your workers shifts go?
Most of our work is done at night, with the shift starting at 9pm. We have three nightly routes. We have some daytime work as well, which is scheduled accordingly, but I mainly handle anything that comes through the office.

What sweeper trucks, equipment, and machinery technology do you use?
We have 3 Schwarze Gale Force sweepers, a Schwarze Updraft and an Elgin Broom Badger. We also have a few Tennant scrubbers to do inside warehouses. As far as the sweeping goes, our innovative vacuum sweepers are the best in the industry to give you the best service possible, every time.

How does disposal work in your states through the Mississippi Gulf Coast?
Everything goes in a dumpster and the disposal company takes it from there. It’s not very complicated.

What kind of strategies and policies do you have when it comes to environmental issues?
One of our selling points is explaining how sweeping is effective in helping with storm water runoff. I am also an active member of the Mobile BRC, which is part of the Create a Clean Water Future campaign. The campaign is a community effort to bring light to littering and point source pollution.

How much do new technologies factor into your business? Anything stand out to you in the way of progress?
Greatly. The advancements made to new sweeping technology allows us to do more work, more efficiently, with minimal employees. We can handle twice the work with these new trucks, compared to ones from ten years ago. Also the technology with GPS, smart phones and the like, allow me to do work from anywhere, and I don’t have to sit at my desk all day…which is nice.