BZ & Son’s Sweeping and Washing Inc., An Interview with Bob Stumpf

How did your company begin?
My dad started in 1986, working for a gentleman that got into it by accident. I was 25 years old and in the Navy at the time. His health was starting to fail in the later part of his life and I was overseas in Spain at the time. He asked me if I wanted to take over the business. The wife and I talked, I drove a sweeper in the summer while I was in high school, so it was something I knew all about. At the time it was fun going around to all the little towns working the sweeper trucks.
I retired out of the navy in 2003 and by October I bought the business from my father and that’s how I got back into it professionally. Up until then I would just help him out on the side and moonlight with other sweeping companies. That helped me figure out what kind of trucks I wanted and didn’t want.

What is your business model look like? Your total employees and office locations?
Well, when I retired from the Navy we were working out of my dad’s house in a two bay garage that I would do maintenance in. I had a friend from California that was a mechanic, so were were doing maintenance when I bought a third sweeper truck and quickly outgrew it.
In 2004, we went from a “mom and pop” to a corporation instead of a sole proprietor. Then in 2006, we ended up getting into a larger business model. We have eight sweeper trucks. For office work, we have two employees, not counting me, because I kind of run around attending to lots of things.
My wife is actually the office manager. She does the office and has a person working with her. I have a full time mechanic and five dedicated sweeper truck drivers. Six, if you count me.

How much growth has your business sustained in recent years with the upswing in the economy?
It didn’t affect us per say as a losing business, we just weren’t growing as fast. Up until then we had about 6 % growth each year. And then it plateaued. For example, Walmart has been with us since day one before supercenters were built. As they expanded we expanded. They fluctuated, so did we. It depends on how they were doing. When we started, we did strictly parking lots. Today there isn’t anything I don’t sweep! Industry, commercial, and residential. I run various kinds of sweepers from the Tymco 600 to the Tymco 210.

How do you find new customers?
In the early days, I was a door-to-door salesman sorta speak. I would show up to a commercial business and simply knock on the door. I had about 15 seconds before they closed the door! I would say “hey I’m thinking we can do some business if you give me about 15 minutes of your time.” Most of the time I was lucky with 15 seconds. They would say initially I’m out of their budget range, but then I would convince them to open the door for me. But now, it’s word-of-mouth mostly. A good portion is referrals and the website has been up for three years, but that’s been slow.

How many contracts do you execute per month?
I think we do about 30 per month.

Have you added on any new services lately?
We added landscaping recently. Well put it this way, we did mowing and trimming as part of customer’s total package of making their parking lot look presentable. We started with a small mower and moved to a zero turn, with a weed eater. The mowing industry only encompases the sweeping clients we have. If I sweep you, I’ll mow as well if they want that. I don’t just solely mow. The buzzword is bundle and it works.

How did you arrive at creating a unique brand for your company?
Now that’s the big success of BZ and Son’s, for years my father was a parking lot sweeping guy only, he did a lot of lots with a small sweep. One of the things that I got introduced to in the industry was sweeping small municipalities, when I retired from the Navy in 2003, we looked at changes to make when we incorporated. We discovered the fact that nobody in the area was doing city sweeping. So we did some research and found out that few were doing their own sweeping. I got a mid-grade truck and from there we did one little city. It was a big success. Then I went to the next town and so on. That’s how we started and established ourselves with city sweeping. We have 14 now.

Tell me a little bit about the daily operations and how your workers shifts go?
Yes we run 24/7 nearly. The night shift starts at 9:30- 10:00 PM, the day shift is the city guys starting around 2:00 AM and 6:00 AM, depending on the city and what part we are doing.

What sweeper trucks, equipment, and machinery technology do you use?
Tymco, solely Tymco man here. They are the best sweepers ever made. The IDS company I buy them from have service beyond belief.

How does disposal work in your state?
I have a partnership with a solid waste company that provides dumpsters for me. So I run it through their place where the dumping takes place.

What kind of strategies and policies do you have when it comes to environmental issues?
For cleaning, I have two big things working on my side. That will help when it comes to sell the business eventually. The look of my company is great. The second one is the EPA and the Clean Water Act is a huge tool I work in. Sweeping is considered the best maintenance practice for cities to keep their drains and natural water sources clean, which is a big selling point for me.

How much do new technologies factor into your business?
It’s getting complicated. We are now in a takeover by third party companies, that want to go in and buy blocks of businesses. For example, Walmart has service channels that hire the vendors to take care of their properties. They were sold and the problem is these companies don’t have the right equipment. They have computers and tracking systems that utilize smartphones. In rural Texas, GPS is not working that well or at all even. It’s a pain to deal with these companies to do a simple sweeping job.

Anything else you’d like us to know about your company?
It is family owned. That’s important to us. Please feel free to check out our website it’s http://www.bzandsons.com/

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