Unique Approach: Manny Saxena’s Transit from Equity Funds to Contract Sweeping Services

Born in India and educated in the United States, Manvendra Saxena, or Manny as he prefers to be called, was working well at a private equity fund, Broadtree Partners, when the fund began looking at two family-owned and -operated sweeping services. Founded by Leonard Vella in 1958 at the very beginning of the sweeping industry, Contract Sweeping Services and Statewide Construction Sweeping had been passed on to Joe and Gina Vella. After several decades of service, the brother and sister duo were ready to sell so that they could enjoy their golden years. That’s where Manny came in.

From Corporate to Family Business — Without Losing the Personal Touch

Making a change directly from a corporate position into an industry he was not familiar with, Manny did an exceptional job of putting everything he had into learning the industry. Rather than coming in and creating an entirely new corporate culture, a common practice during many buyouts, he worked hard to retain the existing family-based culture that worked so well for the business. The business was already very strong and Broadleaf had a strong relationship with Joe and Gina. However, the transition wasn’t without its quirks.

Creating Managerial Accountability Through Delegated Responsibility

Because of the past family ownership, most of the management team was used to going to the owner on a regular basis to gain approval for every purchase decision — a practice that was unsustainable at the size of enterprise the company had grown into. Manny worked with the management team to create a system where each manager could go ahead and handle purchases and similar decisions provided that they could account for their reasoning logically. This delegation of responsibility has given each part of the management team a more dynamic role in the daily operations of the company.

Going Organic for Strong Natural Growth During Transitions

Part of Manny’s approach to the change in management was to focus on organic growth, rather than an overarching marketing strategy focused on paid search and similar aspects that would change too many things at the beginning. Contract Sweeping Services has seen strong growth during the changeover, even through the initial chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Statewide Construction Sweeping saw some growth despite construction shutdowns and challenges during the pandemic.

Everyone-In Approach to Customer Service

One of the reasons why the companies have seen such strong growth is their approach to customer service. Not only is the regional manager for that area informed via email about any customer complaints or requests, but the email is sent out to everyone in the company at the same time. Though some companies would see this as a bulky way of handling customer service, it works well in Contract Sweeping Services. The customer receives a response from someone in the company within the hour, and the issue is typically resolved within 3-4 hours, but in the worst-case scenario, the same day. This builds tremendous customer loyalty accounting for Contract Sweeping Services’ position handing sweeping for 70% of northern California’s municipalities.

Adaptive Training Methods Yield Success

Because virtually all the trucks require a minimum of a Class B CDL, the company already has some portion of the training out of the way when new people are hired. Once hired, the new hire is brought through a well-defined training program, starting with theoretical training in the industry. Once the new hire has a grasp of the basics, they’re put into an apprenticeship position with an experienced operator for three weeks, during which time they are exposed to as many possible different situations as possible to maximize the apprenticeship period. Once the three weeks are finished, the experienced driver provides a recommendation. After a 60-day probationary period, their position is made permanent.

The Environmental Stewardship of Sweeping Services

As California companies, Manny’s companies can’t use any non-CARB compliant machinery or any diesel trucks older than 2011 model years. This means that the company is already producing fewer emissions that could damage the environment. The company is also investing in CNG trucks and the entire fleet is newer than many competitors, providing superior fuel efficiency. All debris that is collected is only dumped at authorized disposal sites, reducing damage to the environment and watershed. “Sweeping is environmental stewardship,” Manny mentions in our interview.

Sweeping Into the Future: Digital Transformation

One of the largest changes that Manny has brought to the companies is bringing them into the forefront of digital transformation. In the past, the company was initially using paper in the shop, among other departments, or computers with limited interoperability between systems. This has included dynamic fleet management software that allows the company to make decisions based on analytics and data. Digitally transforming the enterprise has taken a great deal of effort, energy, and commitment, but it’s a challenge that will help Contract Sweeping Services to continue to grow well into the future.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!