Capitol Sweeping Services Inc., South Windsor CT

Tom and Lesa Kuhns founded Capitol Sweeping Services, Inc. 33 years ago, in 1986. Their expressed goal over three decades ago was the same as it is today — “to meet the needs of every customer with excellence of service and exceptional value.” Talking to the friendly and high-energy owner of Capitol Sweeping, Lesa Kuhns, it quickly becomes clear enough that this published statement about focus on every customer, about true service excellence, and about adding value to the services that the team delivers is beyond a tagline. Her way of talking about her belief in her business and her commitment to customers’ interests reflects it as the code she lives by.
Capitol Business Model
The company operates out of its 17,000 square-foot facility in Windsor CT, from which it serves the entire New England area. Service vehicles from Capitol’s large fleet are seen throughout the region at commercial properties, including shopping centers, parking garages, and construction sites, and working on public roads and highways.
Capitol’s service area radius extends outward from Hartford metro throughout the entire state of Connecticut, northward to the Massachusetts state line, south to the Long Island Sound, westward to New York state, and east to Rhode Island.
The Capitol Sweeping, Inc. business model is structured to include work involving over 50 pieces of pavement maintenance and related equipment. The company provides not only commercial and construction sweeping services, but also litter sweeping, power washing, payloader work, snow removal, infrared asphalt repair, dump truck services, catch basin clean out, and hauling.
Stable Family Owned Company – Reliable Service Quality
Of her company’s position in its competitive market, Kuhn said, “We enjoy doing what we do,” and she expressed, in effect, that her highly successful business has been built on the consistency of quality and reliability of service and commitments to customers.
She said, in effect, that she sees her role as one of making sure her customers are getting what they agreed to receive from the people they know and trust, “We’ve been here for so long, and we’re very focused on customer service.” She simply emphasized her dedication to ensuring that the company’s customers continue receiving the consistency of service they’re accustomed to getting from Capitol.
Lesa’s focus throughout our short discussions was fixed on customer service. In fact, during these brief opportunities to talk with her, she mentioned customer service commitment more than any other topic. To any questions about typical competitive market dynamics, she merely commented on what it means for Capitol’s customers to have steady management ensuring consistency and continuity of the same smooth service relationships they have all come to expect from having Capitol providing their routine sweeping service at their properties.
She expressed that serving Capitol’s customers is a responsibility that she takes very personally. She went on to convey her perspective that ensuring that customers know what they can count on for the short- and long-term future, in terms of the service quality, dependability of communications, and the confidence they’ve developed in working with her and the highly reliable Capitol team is an important benefit for the company’s customers, and that she enjoys her part in maintaining that standard of service.
A Higher Level of Professionalism
The company has a highly skilled field services team. Keeping the vehicles immaculately clean is a point of pride for the business. Their motto, “Sweeping America the Beautiful 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year” is more than a catchy slogan. It’s a statement of their mission, a revelation of their work ethic.
It’s also a little stroke of marketing brilliance — offering a simple list of the company’s unending hours of operation on a virtual banner that is featured upfront, as the representative concept of the business via its online presence. Simply displaying the unusual information that there is unending movement in Capitol’s service operations portrays the striking image of the company’s phenomenally dedicated team, constantly serving customers, without delay, interruption, or end.
The company’s stated service philosophy goes an additional large step beyond the formal commitment that some sweeping businesses are willing to offer customers. Capitol guarantees customers’ satisfaction, in writing on its website. In my brief conversations with her, it became evident enough that the company’s posted commitment to “Strive to ensure you are pleased you have chosen Capitol Sweeping Services, Inc. as your full-service roadway and parking lot maintenance company” is much more than a marketing tag line.
Talking to Lesa Kuhns, it becomes clear that what really sets the company apart, in terms of action on the ground, is the exceptional customer service mindset that this striking, unending operational activity is backed by. The company’s formula for success is in this simple compound of competitive and service principles: Have the highest degree of commitment to customers, provide never-ending service, and keep equipment in impeccably clean.
So, what more should or could a company do to build trust and confidence across its customer base? Where’s the room for improvement? What could make customers feel better about having Capitol equipment on their properties? It does appear that all reasonable customer expectations are being well fulfilled in the supremely simple, very robust Capitol Sweeping service model.
Challenges for New England Entrepreneur
Lesa points out that being a woman in the commercial sweeping and pavement maintenance business is challenging. However, she seems to reflect on her career lifetime of such special challenges with that admirable sort of sense of moderate amusement with it all. She has acquired the wisdom of long experience in a rugged industry. To find a woman who has sustained such a level of success in the highly competitive, male-dominated Northeastern sweeping market is extraordinary.
She has overcome all the obstacles of entrepreneurialism more broadly, as well as the industry-specific difficulties inherent in a business involving crews performing heavy equipment operation, rough work, extreme northern coastal seasonal challenges, predominately male work environments, and technical decision-making on mechanical, logistical and other issues of traditional male management roles, and very expensive operations of maintenance-intensive equipment.
The very fact of her business’s longevity in its market, under her leadership proves Lesa Kuhn’s knowledgeability as a Northeastern competitive expert, and her extraordinary adeptness in building the quality of lasting working relationships necessary to sustain success in the industry while overcoming the serious obstacles that can make it much more difficult for women competitors to succeed.
In the light of all of her well-proven strengths, Lesa says only, “I can be tough, but I don’t want to have to be that way all the time, and I usually don’t have to be.” She’s cracked the code for sustained success in leadership of a large field services team, in a virtually all-male business. For one thing, or two, her positive, good humor and high energy are undoubtedly contagious among her staff. What can’t she do? We couldn’t actually detect anything that was apparently beyond her level of business management competency in an enterprise scaled to the size of Capitol Sweeping, Inc.
Advice for Newcomers to the Sweeping Industry
Advice for entrepreneurs looking to enter open commercial sweeping service businesses in their local competitive markets, based on wisdom collected from Lesa Kuhn of Capitol Sweeping would include making very sure that you are prepared to fully commit to service quality and consistency, and to overcoming the many predictable competitive market obstacles and other challenges to be faced.
Based on the example of Lesa Kuhn’s achievement, ultimately for entrepreneurs, much more of sustained success is accounted for in the level of drive, the consistency of hard work, the problem-solving skills, the risk-taking courage, and the utter commitment to customer satisfaction that the individual entrepreneur demonstrates. Those are the qualities that most inspire prospective customers and employees to trust and engage with an organization’s leader in working relationships that lead to the sustained success of the business.

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