Quiet Sweep LTD – Maryland’s Premier Pavement Cleaning Company

The story of Quiet Sweep, Ltd., in Rockville, Maryland is one of steady growth in the highly dynamic Mid-Atlantic competitive market over the past 14 years of the company’s operation by owners, Steve & Robin Dekelbaum. Quiet Sweep serves the Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia region. Steve Dekelbaum’s progress in growing his business offers valuable insights into the commercial consumer and municipal contract pavement sweeping market in the densely populated region within his business’s service radius.
Dekelbaum’s circuitous journey to owning a thriving commercial pavement maintenance company is unique. Steve is a world-class pastry chef, trained at one of the best culinary arts institutes in the Western hemisphere. He helped build his parent’s family baked goods, Kosher Grocery Store business. Eventually, the massive bakery outgrew the space, and around that same time, his parents were looking toward retiring. Steve wanted to keep growing. It was one of those things that are about the family business relationship, so, when my parents neared retirement, I knew it was time for me to make a change.

When Steve & Robin bought Quiet Sweep, it had been operating since 1992. It was a broken-down business, with only 12 remaining shopping center accounts and two beaten up sweeper trucks. It took me about two years to build it up to the point that it could afford me as a full-time employee. My wife and I started building the business, picking up shopping center accounts and highway construction sweeping contracts.

Quiet Sweep Business Model

Today, the company provides a variety of exterior maintenance services, including sweeping parking lots, parking garages, shopping centers, and municipal roadways. Quiet Sweep also offers power washing services, bulk trash removal, roll-off dumpster service, portering and janitorial services, event clean-up, and snow removal. Custom contracts are offered for annual, monthly, and weekly terms of service.
Quiet Sweep goes beyond the staffing standards of many sweeping companies throughout their area. Every one of the company’s sweeping trucks is manned by both a driver and a driver’s helper. Daytime portering staff serve numerous shopping centers, working to maintain the cleanliness of clients’ properties, perform special cleanup projects, and remove bulk trash items. The company also performs specialized road construction cleaning. Quiet Sweep service vehicles are in operation 365 nights per year.

The company’s power washing services are provided for customers with restaurants, parking garages, and lots, tennis courts, roofs, loading docks, dumpster areas, bank drive-thru lanes, decks, patios, and other facilities. Quiet Sweeps portering and janitorial services for Maryland DC and Virginia area shopping centers include emptying and wiping trash receptacles, changing liners, wiping window sills, and other assigned routine maintenance tasks. Tenant move-out services provided by Quiet Sweep include removing all items left by tenants and performing cleaning and other services.

Quiet Sweep has provided event cleanup services for an impressive list of prominent national organization’s local events, including the Marine Corps Marathon, Nike Woman’s Half Marathon, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, Fredericksburg Marine Corp Marathon, Army 10K Race, Navy 5K Race, and the National Book Festival.

The company serves as a direct buyer/broker for trash bags and ice melt products for regional shopping centers, which reduces costs tremendously, by helping distribution companies ship at lower costs. Part of the Dekelbaum’s growth strategy includes increasing the bag provisioning business and providing a one-stop-shop for parking lot maintenance.

Quiet Sweep Continues Growing in a Noisy Competitive Market

Asked about the bustling Mid-Atlantic commercial sweeping market and how Quiet Sweep fits into it and makes its presence known, Steve acknowledges that there is competition in his market area. But, he’s in his element, serving numerous cities, counties, and state administrations with municipal highway sweeping.
Our success depends on my ability to go after more contracts. I like the opportunity to keep growing. I have two contracting officers who do our contracting, and our website gets a tremendous amount of traffic. I’m estimating growing 30% to 35% over the next 2 to 4 years.

Quiet Sweep Exciting Logo and Website

Visitors to the Quiet Sweep website are sure to be immediately drawn to the company’s imposing logo — a huge, ferocious bulldog with its heavy collar bearing massive spikes. Our imagination led us to speculate on all sorts of possible motivations behind such a powerful and exciting choice of symbolism to represent a commercial sweeping enterprise — especially one with a name like “Quiet Sweep”. After all, the image certainly does communicate a sense of super-strength, fast action, extreme energy and arguably an approach of pulling out all stops to get the job done. It sort of seems to say, “Nothing’s going to stop us in our determination to get your Sweeping done!”
Steve does agree that those sentiments make sense to associate with the logo, but he says that actually, the thought behind the selection of the highly unusual logo was simply that it’s eye-catching. He says he came across the logo by accident, as he was growing the business quite a few years ago. He was receiving help from a company in designing some shirts for his crew. The shirt design people presented the logo to him along with some other choices. He said he’s not trying to convey anything philosophical with the logo. It was just a cool and attractive attention-getting image. The rest is history. The dynamic logo now graces the well organized and ideally functioning landing page of Quiet Sweep’s professionally managed website, grabbing attention, just as it is intended to do.

GPS Tracking Technology

The business technologies Steve Dekelbaum’s company uses have had a notable impact on the company’s efficiency. He credits the GPS tracking systems technology with smoother operations due to its ability to track vehicle functions, monitor how fast vehicles are going, and even view idle times and other critical data.
Field services employees can submit reports directly to management from customers’ sites. They also use the system to send in pictures of bulk trash, which information is used to dispatch workers for bulk item pickups.

Quiet Sweep Team

The Quiet Sweep operations center is situated on a 3/4 acre fenced lot. The facility has a 3 high-bay and 3 low-bay garages. Steve walks us through the Quiet Sweep team’s routine: In addition to roadway Sweeping cleaning, we also do about 140 shopping centers per night. Each night, we run about 14 parking lot sweepers and about 6 highway regenerative air sweeper trucks on the road. We also run 2 TMA safety trucks every night for highway sweeping. During the day, we run about 5 sweeper trucks and about 31 sweepers. About 6 service trucks are fitted with snow plows for seasonal snow removal service.

Our 4 portering people work 6 days per week. Plus, we staff for apartment cleanouts, and a lot of orders for pickup of bulk trash in shopping centers and industrial parks. Dumping tires and other large items illegally at shopping centers and other public places is a very big problem in our area, so we go out and clean up a lot of illegal dumping.

We have a total of 70 employees, including my wife Robin, who does the bookkeeping (using QuickBooks) in-house and other office work. We have all our sweeper truck drivers, 2 operations managers, and a night supervisor. We have 2 in-house mechanics, and a garage technician who makes our brooms for our sweeper trucks, which is comparatively more cost-effective than buying them pre-made. He also cleans the trucks and washes the hoppers, etc. And, we have a Certified Department of Transportation mechanic who comes in once a week to check out our equipment and validate the condition of trucks we send out on the road.

Steve says his role involves speaking with the company’s clients, which he enjoys. He keeps heavily involved with communicating with property managers and municipal authorities who manage service contracts. One of the nice things about being a family business is having my wife here in the business and running it together. My son Zachary has also joined the company, working part-time with me right now while he’s in college. (Zachary is a business major, so it would appear that the Dekelbaum’s family business is to be perfectly positioned for eventual succession.)
Advice for Industry Newcomers from Steve Dekelbaum, Quiet Sweep LTD, Rockville MD

We asked Steve if he would offer some advice for new sweeping business owners:

It’s necessary to be realistic about what a new sweeping business owner is getting into at this time. It’s a difficult industry right now, due to so many third-party vendors. Ultimately, the most important thing is just doing a very good job and being honest and sincere with the property managers and municipal clients. Always look for new things to do to help customers and different ways to improve service and business operations.

It’s an interesting business. There’s a sense of great satisfaction in seeing two of our company’s big street sweepers and safety vehicles going down the road together.
We’ll add our point of advice here for new commercial pavement sweeping services market entrants. There’s a lot to be taken from the story of Steve Dekelbaum’s success in growing his company from a tiny failing local service business to the thriving organization it is today. Seeing Quiet Sweep today with 70 families livelihoods connected by Steve and his family to their Mid-Atlantic service enterprise is inspiring.
The Quiet Sweep, LTD success story is an example of making smart choices when opportunities and ideas present themselves, the way Steve Dekelbaum has made a lifetime career habit of doing — switching to a new industry at the right time, picking the right ailing business to revitalize, choosing the right supplementary revenue streams to complement the core offerings and skills of the team, and even picking the right symbolism to project the dynamic of the business to the world of prospective customers. His strategic process has led to Quiet Sweep’s exceptional business performance and Steve’s ability to reasonably estimate additional growth of up to 35% over the next few years.
Another thing that is striking about the interview with Steve Dekelbaum is his reflective comment about the depth of company pride in seeing his business’s equipment in action out on the roadways, just that image of his company out there serving important needs, strong, out there in the elements, ideally up to the job. It’s a great image born of the kind of business thinking that has built this great industry.
So, for anyone looking to enter into the commercial pavement sweeping market anywhere in the country, our recommendation would be to attempt to emulate the degree of performance pride and commitment that it takes to produce the steady, carefully managed growth that Steve Dekelbaum’s company exemplifies.

http://www.quietsweep.com/
steve@quietsweep.com

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