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Sweeping Excellence Awards


Award of Excellence

Karl Stauty, president of Commercial Power Sweeping and Service, was the winner of the 2013 WorldSweeper.com Award of Excellence in Power Sweeping, the American power sweeping industry's highest honor.


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Karl Stauty and Ranger At the National Pavement Exposition, held in January of 2013, WorldSweeper's editor presented the 2013 Award of Excellence in Power Sweeping to Virginia-based Karl Stauty and his company, Commercial Power Sweeping and Services.

Here is an overview of Stauty and the impact he has had on the power sweeping industry.

Karl Stauty started into the power sweeping business in 1986. He had been a salesman for the Solo Company, a maker of backpack blowers. Over time, he got to know a man who came into the store to get blowers and parts on a regular basis. Eventually, he learned that the equipment was for the man's sweeping company.

When a shake-up occurred at Solo, Karl became dissatisfied with the work there and became interested in knowing more about sweeping. The sweeping company owner, who had just a few accounts and not much in the way of sweepers, was interested in having a go-getter kid of 22 come to work for him. However, Stauty had the good sense to not want to just get another job; rather, Karl expressed interest in buying out the man's accounts, which is what occurred.

Because the sweeping equipment had no real value, Stauty and his wife, Lori, then took another scary step: Even though they'd never in their life bought a new vehicle, they purchased a brand new Hako sweeper. Although they haven't bought another Hako, it did springboard them to success in their market area. Today, the Stautys' company boasts 17 sweepers, both parking area and street/construction models, along with another seven pieces of rolling stock.

"I remember the first account I got on my own like it was yesterday," said Karl. "It was a Lowes, I swept it one time per week, and I got $172.50 a month. I was so proud! At that time, most of the people I would talk to in the parking lots that I targeted were really familiar with the idea of the sweeping contractor. There weren't that many around. So, I would go and talk to them and, a week or so later, I go back and offer them a demonstration. Initially, that's how I got all my new accounts.

"At the beginning, I would sweep at night and then go to work during the day. In any spare time I had I would meet with prospects and try to sell them on getting their property swept and then repeat that over and over. Occasionally, in my spare time, I would get to sleep. Now I turn around and it's 26 years later."

When asked what he thinks it takes today to sell a property manager without being the low bid, here is what Karl had to say: "Have a good list of references, because for the most part property managers talk among themselves and they recognize other properties in the area. You also want to follow through with what you say and do everything in a timely manner.

It has been our policy that we will have a price back to anyone within 24 hours of them calling our office. It's extremely difficult to do sometimes, especially in the summer when we're so busy. Even then, though, our upper limit is 36 hours. We often get a response from people who've never seen that kind of response before. We also keep our trucks clean and well kept up, and people in our market area notice that.

"One of the ways we have stayed out of the low pricing game is that we have never gone after the box stores. Plus, I would say over 90% of our customers operate locally-owned businesses and that makes a difference."

Stauty has long emphasized a personal philosophy of never 'dissing' a competitor. Rather, he stresses how his company operates and does business, then works hard to fulfill the promises he makes while operating a well-run business. "Without competition," said Stauty, "we would all geet complacent. To me, competition keeps you on your toes. You have to know who your competitors are, as well as what kind of equipment they run and what kind of standards they keep for their equipment."

One competitive advantage Stauty feels his company has gained is through buying a used bucket truck some years ago. This is primarily used for putting up and removing decorations and their company philosophy is to only handle decorations for companies where they sweep. Because dedicated bucket truck companies are so expensive for these declarations services, property managers really appreciate the savings they can receive during holiday seasons, open houses and other events that require decorations.

Stauty has long emphasized a personal philosophy of never 'dissing' a competitor. Rather, he stresses how his company operates and does business, then works hard to fulfill the promises he makes while operating a well-run business. "Without competition," said Stauty, "we would all geet complacent. To me, competition keeps you on your toes. You have to know who your competitors are, as well as what kind of equipment they run and what kind of standards they keep for their equipment."

In the early 1990s the market changed, Stauty says. That's when many property managers started wanting their sweeping company to also do landscaping. Although his company complied, by the time they had three crews operating he ran the numbers and realized it wasn't a direction he wanted his company to go in the long run. That's when he decided to move in another direction and start doing building maintenance, as well as construction and street sweeping, activities that account for a significant portion of revenue today.

Today, Karl Stauty retains his NAPSA membership and Certified Sweeping Contractor status through that organization. In addition, he is a Founding Member and Advisory Board Member of the World Sweeping Association. The company is also part of the 1800SWEEPER network.

To see the wording on the actual award Stauty received, you may take a look at this PDF version of it. We also invite you to listen to the approximately 1-hour audio podcast interview between Stauty and WorldSweeper's editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross, conducted a few days after the award was made.

In the interview, Stauty discusses his beginnings in the sweeping industry in 1986, as well as his take on how the power sweeping industry has changed in the 25+ years since then. He also provides a host of information on how to run a competitive sweeping company, from employee management to vehicle management. The podcast contains a treasure trove of ideas that can help any contracting business operate better, smarter and more professionally.

Note: To play the interview, click this link or on the small triangle inside the circle you see to the left. If you have any trouble accessing this audio, please let us know.

The company's website is located at www.commercialpowersweeping.com/.

If you have questions or comments about this interview, please, let us know and we can add it in as an addendum to this article.

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