Sweeping Corporation of America

SCA serves the entire eastern United States from Michigan to the Louisiana gulf coast, to the New York Atlantic coast, to the Caribbean coast of southern Florida. All locations are owned by SCA, of which Chris Valerian is President, CEO, and Board Member of SCA. The story of SCA and its ownership is one of a dizzying whirlwind of growth by acquisition. Founded only 30 months ago, on February 17, 2017, Valerian’s company has hyper-expanded from zero, purchasing 12 entities for a total of 39 operating locations, to become the United States’ largest self-performing power sweeping company.
There are additional smaller satellite locations that increase the number of operating locations, and the company is still in full-on growth mode. SCA has nearly 1,000 employees and around 600 sweeper trucks. The staggering growth of SCA during its brief existence has been through private equity backing. Valerian says the company plans to continue to grow at approximately its current rate over the coming periods. The idea, he explains, is to continue to grow both organically, through new account sales, and acquisition.
The SCA Business Model
The majority of SCA’s business is broom sweeping, which portion of the customer base consists of around 80 percent mechanical broom or repetitive air sweeping for transportation departments in municipalities. The other 20 percent is parking lot sweeping business using repetitive air sweeping. Chris shares some of the young company’s most unique and fascinating service and operating technology features.
We’re a little different than competitors in some ways. We also offer a self-performed jet vacuum service. When working for a municipality or Department of Transportation, we like to combine those two services. Readers will be familiar with MTDES permits. Through our jet vac solution, we can offer a turnkey solution for pavement maintenance.
SCA Leads the Industry in Sweeping Service Technology
One thing that makes us unique, technology is that our entire fleet is 100% tablet-enabled. It’s one of the things that allow us to give customers Verified Sweeping Service™ (VSS). The SCA trademarked VSS technology can geo-fence the location, by anchoring the image to a particular mile marker or parking lot. The technology can tell you what’s going on, how many RPMs an engine is running at, whether a broom on a sweeper truck is engaged, and a lot of other important information about what’s taking place with the truck and driver. This offers important benefits for customers and our company.
Many sweeping vendors struggle with verification, whereas we know every time the hopper lifts to dump, for example. Our system provides a higher level of verification than others, and it’s also really good for permitting with a regulatory agency. We’re able to show visiting authorities all of this real-time information and demonstrate the exceptional level of quality control it allows throughout our entire service system.
We looked at off-the-shelf systems but decided to develop a proprietary system for more comprehensive capabilities. With our system, customers can log into a portal and see their job as it’s happening in real-time. If they use the mobile app, they can send a snapshot of a problem area, and we can respond in real-time. The system will re-geo-fence that area, which is important to inspect for anyone reading that accurate, clear for verification.
We’re only scratching the surface on our technological capabilities. This was our near-term plan, finishing the algorithm for maximum routing efficiency and refining the user interface. Now, once a customer is set up in the system, he or she can schedule in real-time. The important part of that has been getting all trucks tablet-enabled and organizing the information so it’s meaningful. We’ve accomplished that. It was an expensive undertaking. But, we hope it accomplishes two things: that we can offer competitive pricing through our efficient delivery system and that it creates value for our customers — that it provides them with a higher value at a lower cost.
SCA’s Focus on Supporting the Field Service Team
The other thing that we’re focused on is our people. Anyone who employs commercial drivers needs to be. We’re a field-driven organization. We spend a lot of time making sure our guys are well informed, trained in the technology, and that they understand what’s going on in the business. We have a pretty simple strategy, which is that if we take care of our drivers, they’ll take care of our customers. Then, success is an output of the system, not the driver of it.
We offer benefits, including 401K and health insurance. The organizations that we buy generally start somewhere around a 50% turnover rate. We get them down to around 30%. Our goal is 25%, which is an excellent rate to maintain. We have four-employee retention specialists on staff. We’re probably the only company out there with a dedicated retention team of four people.
They focus on onboarding, to avoid churn within the first 90 days, which is a common problem throughout the industry. They also spend time, for example, evaluating the characteristics of people who stay with the company, and they use their findings to build a database of things those people don’t like.
We’re currently in the middle of a driver satisfaction survey, asking all drivers to answer 12 questions about the company. From that, we’ll get feedback that will help us understand the drivers of service employees’ satisfaction and other key elements. Every location is going to have something different to say. We’ll have that completed by the end of the year, then people who manage locations will have that as part of their incentive program for 2020. People quit their boss, not their company, usually. So, making sure of guys at the local level is the priority for managing turnover.
In 2020, we’re giving away a pickup truck for the driver of the year. It represents just a pretty simple approach. Every month, after you’re with us for a year, you get to enter a drawing, if you performed your job safely, were on time, had no customer complaints, and if you have a positive attitude. Then, at the end of each year, we draw a name.
Chris says he’ll be taking a lot of pictures, of course, to help promote the concept to employees who can be motivated by the opportunity to participate. Asked about the company’s impressive website, complete with blog posts, he says simply that he wishes he could evangelize more, but is going full-tilt trying to grow the business, and provide top service for customers.
SCA Leadership Profile
We asked Chris Valerian about his track record of extraordinary success in solid waste management before transitioning to the pavement sweeping industry. I ran another private equity-backed company, in the solid waste industry, and grew it successfully to a half-billion dollars. I was originally a marine. I went to school and graduated from California State University, then started my career as a financial underwriter of surety bonds for the garbage business. Then, I spent the better part of almost 20 years in the waste management business, and three years ago, I started the sweeping company. In waste management, I was a private owner with a private equity roll-up. I understand my field operations and feel very comfortable in that environment.
Advice for Newcomers from Industry Leader Chris Valerian of SCA
One of the things I think is important is to keep in mind that there are plenty of businesses out there for everybody to grow. We don’t want to be the biggest for the sake of being the biggest. We want to be in a position to grow by providing great service and treating employees well. We never underestimate the power of small competitors. There’s room for everybody.
For more information about SCA, call 1-888-SWEEPING, or visit sweepingcorp.com.

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