The Perfect Storm: How Jake’s Sweeping Tornados is Sweeping Up San Francisco Bay

How does taking over a friend’s side hustle turned into a wildly successful business? Growing up in a family full of entrepreneurs, is it any wonder that Darren Estrada of Jake’s Sweeping Tornados had the entrepreneurial spirit at a young age? After selling a prior business, Mr. Estrada was looking for a new opportunity when a close friend mentioned wanting to get out of a side business. In early 2000, Jake’s Sweeping Tornados was born, purchased its first truck, and started working a few existing contracts.

More Family Leadership

Mr. Estrada’s experience was hands-on, learning from mistakes. Over the next year, more people were hired so that Mr. Estrada could focus on pursuing new contracts, connections, and industry knowledge. As the president and CEO, he saw his wife Martha make the transition to help run the office and accounting, growing in her career into the operations manager position. As a dedicated team, the Estradas work well together, making important decisions, being well-balanced together. “I am more of a risk-taker and she is more conservative, which brings a good balance,” Mr. Estrada mentions during our interview.
The company became a California corporation in 2005, expanding to include a range of other services including pressure washing, steam cleaning, day porter, illegal dump debris removal, construction sweeping, and street sweeping, in addition to their mainstay of sweeping retail, industrial, and commercial parking lots.

Quality Equipment Matters

Starting from a single truck, the business has branched out into a range of trucks and equipment, allowing the Estradas to match the right equipment to the customer’s needs. The company currently operates Tymco 435 sweepers, Sweeprite mechanical brooms, Masco sweepers, and truck-mounted hot water pressure washer/ steam cleaners, in addition to a range of dump trucks. “Having a variety of specialized vehicles allows for us to choose the right truck for the job. It gives us and our customers great flexibility and peace of mind knowing that we can get the job done right,” Mr. Estrada mentions.

Training Time

Most of the training at Jake’s Sweeping Tornados involves learning the equipment, from working it to maintaining it to being safe around it. Some of the training has had to be hands-on, but the Estradas have a strong dedication to safety as their highest priority. New hires receive a period of job shadowing with the most experienced crew members.
Keeping communications open is another Estrada trait, encouraging everyone in the company to provide feedback and ask questions. As a family-owned and -operated company, they try to make everyone feel that they have a role in the success of the business.

Selling Without Sales Through Leadership

The Estradas have chosen to avoid bringing in any salespeople. “We rely on our reputation, repeat business from current customers, and word of mouth,” Mr. Estrada mentioned during our interview. They joined the 1-800-Sweeper organization in 2019, from which they receive leads.
“Being a part of this organization has allowed us to meet some fantastic members, very knowledgeable people that encourage and help each other grow as a leader of their own team,” Estrada mentions. The company has expanded service offerings and market areas as well, which has helped. They continue to grow and learn, and recently became a NAPSA certified sweeping company.
The 2018 acquisition of American Sweeping & Maintenance Group, a company they’d worked with for over 16 years, allowed the Estradas to bring their philosophy of integrity, honesty, and dependability to both businesses, with a strong dedication to always be fair to our customers, team, and vendors.

People Make the Business

The largest challenge faced by the Estradas is finding the right people to hire: people who are self-motivated, self-driving, and responsible. Relying on the people in the field, due to the amount of time spent in the trucks, is vital to the company’s overall success.
“We now screen new candidates to gain a better understanding of how they can be a good fit for our team and how well their goals align to those important to our business. We hope to have people who want to stay with us for a long time and grow within the company,” Mr. Estrada comments during the interview.

Overcoming COVID-19 Challenges

Like so many other businesses, the company had to change the way it was being operated for new regulations, mandates, and safety protocols. “Being considered an essential business kept us open for business and allowed to keep everyone in our team employed,” Mr. Estrada mentioned.
However, there was also a challenge in keeping the entire crew safe and healthy. This required strict rules and maintaining a clean environment in the main business site, trucks, and customer sites. Mr. Estrada credits his company’s dedication to teamwork and having everyone working together towards the same goals for that success.

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