Sweeping Industry Supplier Profiles
Superior Service & Supply: Their Name Says It All
by Shelley Ross
WorldSweeper caught up with a brush dealer who has in mind the simultaneous benefits of saving money and helping the environment and sweeping contractors with his inventory of products for sale. Here's an interview with Tim Hartman, owner of North Carolina-based Superior Service & Supply.
WorldSweeper: How long has Superior Service & Supply been in business?
Hartman: We started in 1989. Today we have three outside sales people, three office staff, two service technicians, and a warehouse operations supervisor. Our present facility is 14,000 square feet.
WorldSweeper: Please give our readers an overview of your business.
Hartman: We sell liners, street brooms, wire brooms and push brooms to the industry. We sell a ton of replacement brushes for Liberty sweepers, Tennant, Advance, American Lincoln, Power Boss and the like. We probably stock more brushes than any dealer in the country. We also have a separate program set up for sales to the cement industry, anybody who is cleaning, prepping or covering cement.
We started out supplying sweepers with MRO items, which are expendable, one-use items. Our business philosophy is to sell to several different industries, so that a downturn in one area has much less impact on the stability of our prices. I joined naPSa some years ago, and we work to fill the needs of our members. If there's a better, less expensive product for the customer, we want to find it and provide it to them.
We're also pleased with the environmentally-friendly aspect of our indoor sweeper/scrubber consumables inventory. A brush will last 250 uses, whereas a pad is used once and thrown away. All of those pads are going into our landfills. Brushes are just so much more beneficial, both economically to our customers and greenwise for our landfills. We can assist in sizing up the job, and then work to put the right equipment with each operator. [We also have online a related article comparing the cost-effectiveness of using brushes to use of pads.]
WorldSweeper: How can a sweeping contractor or a municipality benefit from the things you offer? What's the advantage you bring to the table?
Hartman: Again, we are a naPSa member, and we offer discounts to all members, and give everybody the same price. How can we do that? Well, at a trade show today you can find someone selling a street broom very similar to the one I'm selling, yet mine is $15 while his is about $24.
I have three advantages to offer the customer: First, I can offer huge discounts, because of the volume I buy in and the way I get it to the market. I'm not selling one or two brooms, I'm selling dozens of brooms, multiple times a day. Second, I ship all over the country, and I absorb the freight charges for naPSa members. One of the biggest costs in liners is freight charges. When I buy, I bring them in by the truckload, where some other distributor might bring in 3 pallets at a time.
So, I'm cutting down the costs to get them here, and then I pay the freight out to the naPSa member. I want to support the organization because I think it's important and everyone is working hard to build it into a very worthwhile organization. Third, we're a one-stop shopping situation. With one purchase order, the customer can buy liners, push brooms, stick brooms, upright brooms, and the order arrives two to three days later.
WorldSweeper: Any final comments?
Hartman: As a word to sweeping contractors reading this, I'd recommend that if they aren't currently using trash can liner change-out as a profit center then they need to do that. Trash can liners are very inexpensive when purchased in bulk, and it doesn't take much time to have your crew change liners out. Since someone on all your customer properties is changing out the liners in the cans, anyway, why not you?
Not only is it a logical job to have you do, from a customer's perspective since, cleaning up debris is why you're there in the first place, but adding liner changeout can have other benefits, as well. For example, when you're changing out liners on an account it may make more sense to the customer that you do a daily sweep instead of a five-night sweep.
The end result is their lot is kept cleaner and safer, and there's no need to get someone in-house to remember to change out liners on your off days. Plus, when you change out liners for multiple accounts, your cost for liners is less than theirs will be since you'll be able to buy in larger quantities and through us. You're able to have a relatively high profit margin on liner changeout as a result of all this.
Finally, I'd like to underline the fact that using brushes is the smart choice because it's both the economical choice and the green choice for our environment. If you're still using pads, now is the time to quit. The cost of the pads you're using is over 400% higher than the consumable cost of your smart competitors, so there's no way you can remain competitive on bids with anyone who has switched over to using brushes.
Superior offers a free catalog of all their product listings in either a printed or CD form.
Contact information for this article:
Tim Hartman, principal
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