by Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editor
Looking Back on 2011: The Past Year One of Challenges and Rising Costs Mixed With Increasing Rewards
For most in power sweeping, 2011 was an improvement over 2010. Even so, for many it was still a year of belt-tightening, reevaluation and reorganization.
As a direct result of the economic downturn of the last several years, most contractors were forced to closely inspect their business methods and overall model of operation. The same has been true for cash-strapped public works' organizations. The result: Many have become leaner, more focused and better able to accomplish more, with less, than could be done just a few years ago.
Plus, many contractors have also been actively expanding their array of services to existing customers. As a direct result, a number have reported 2011 as a year of increasing profits over what many saw as a dismal 2010.
Fortunately, there appears to be good news on the horizon as we enter 2012. Most economists predict an upturn trend for the coming year. Bolstering this outlook is the fact it is an important election year, so those currently entrenched in our political system will be doing everything they can to spur economic growth.
For the rest of this month's editorial, though, let's look back at the power sweeping industry's biggest news of the past year. Read the whole editorial.
January Newsletter Contents
(Scroll down to read stories or click on links.)
- The Importance and Value of Developing Employee 'Systems'
- The Role Street Sweeping Must Play in Achieving Numeric Pollutant Limits
- Inventor of the New miniBRUTE SWEEPER Targets Contractor Cost of Operation
- Hand-held Cell Phones Banned for Commercial Drivers
- FMCSA Releases Final Hours of Service Rule
- DC-Area's Quiet Sweep, Ltd. Also Handles Many Other Event(ualities)
- FREE Driver Performance Management Webinar on January 26th
The Importance and Value of Developing Employee 'Systems'
At the Sweeping Contractors' Roundtable held at San Diego's Pavement Live Expo in December 2011, a significant portion of the conversation was given to the importance of incorporating 'systems' into your power sweeping company's operation. Here are some of the major points that were brought out in that discussion.
The article covers a variety of topics for ways to systematize working with employees. These included some of the benefits of employee leasing, reasons and methods for monitoring cell phone usage, sweeper routing, employee handbooks and a good bit more. Read the story.
The Role Street Sweeping Must Play in Achieving Numeric Pollutant Limits
In the November/December 2011 issue of Stormwater magazine noted sweeper researcher, Roger Sutherland, offered a guest editorial on the relationship between sweeping and stormwater runoff pollutant removal.
The generally applicable standard of the Clean Water Act requires a reduction of the contaminants in the stormwater to the maximum exent practicable. Unfortunately, the EPA has never defined that term. In the editorial, Sutherland lays out the case for street sweeping as one of the most cost-effective practices when it comes to removing pollutants that would otherwise be transported by urban stormwater. Read the article.
Mike Primeaux (pronounced 'primo') has been a sweeping and landscaping contractor for over a decade. Unlike most contractors, though, for much of that time Primeaux has been using a sweeper of his own design.
Because of the cost of purchase and operation of sweepers in the marketplace, Primeaux began designing his own number of years ago. Now, after a successful year-and-a-half of testing his current model, he decided he was ready to make his sweeper for others to use.
Perseverance has been the key for Primeaux, who is based in the New Orleans area. He says he has been operating his current design – which he has dubbed the 'miniBRUTE SWEEPER' – for well over a year with no problems whatsoever. His sweeper's low-cost of operation, combined with a relatively low cost to build given the price of other sweepers available, convinced him to bring the miniBRUTE to market.
Take a look.
Nationwide, beginning January 3, 2012, all commercial drivers, including truck and bus drivers are banned from using hand-held cell phones. There will be a stiff fine of up to $2,700 per offense for truckers and bus drivers caught using hand-held cell phones while driving.
The law allows only emergency responders and roadside assistance workers to use hand-held cell phones. An estimated four million commercial drivers will be affected nationwide. Brief article includes an FAQ section with answers to typical questions. See the details.
On December 22, 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) unveiled its final hours of service rule (HOS), which establishes new regulations limiting the amount of time commercial drivers can spend behind the wheel.
The regulation also requires truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights' rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most – from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule's "34-hour restart" provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period. This is a challenge for drivers in the highway construction industry where much of the work is done at night.
Take a look.
Eight years ago, Steve Dekelbaum had a good handle on the course that his future business life would take. He'd gotten his pastry chef certificate in 2004 and was utilizing it in the family business. At the same time, he managed the shopping center where their business was located. However, that's when fate stepped in.
Dekelbaum, who baked on the night shift, says he started noticing the cleanup being done by the center's sweeping contractor had become less than stellar. Plus, he started getting some complaints from other tenants. Over the course of talking with the sweeping company's owner a number of times, he learned that what Quiet Sweep's owner actually wanted to do was sell out and retire.
Today, Quiet Sweep boasts a total of almost 200 properties being swept at night, in addition to its construction and other sweeping. The company has 21 sweepers, a mix of Nite-Hawks, Schwarzes and a Mobil Athey. In addition to sweeping the company offers as many light maintenance services that it can to make it a one-stop shopping experience for its property managers.
Read about Quiet Sweep.
Drivers are not only the top expense for most truck fleets, they also have a major impact on the second-highest expense: fuel. Recent studies show that the best drivers can deliver from ten to 35 percent better fuel economy than their less-skilled, less-disciplined counterparts.
Learn from industry experts how driver performance management can not only deliver safety benefits, but also dramatically reduce your fuel costs as well. Speakers at this live event will share their experiences and insights into how driver performance monitoring and management can:
Register by clicking on this link.
- Provide the insights and feedback to create a fuel efficiency program that delivers measurable, bottom line results you can start to see immediately
- Turn safety from an intangible benefit to a tangible benefit you can measure
- Reduce maintenance costs
- Help to develop and maintain a more loyal and professional driver pool to reduce driver recruiting and training costs
- Improve customer service
- Reduce your risk