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Sweeping Excellence Awards


Award of Excellence

Second Annual
Award of Excellence in Sweeping

Eugene Hansen, the founder of Minnesota-based Clean Sweep, Inc., has been chosen as the recipient of the second annual Award of Excellence in Sweeping. Eugene received a plaque commemorating this award at the NPME. The event was held in Atlanta, Georgia on February 5, 1997.

In 1959, Eugene Hansen worked his way into the sweeping business with a broom, a shovel and a wheelbarrow. The '50s were the beginning of off-street parking. Back then, it wasn't a question of which sweeping company to use, but rather "should we sweep our parking lots?" Last November, Eugene turned over operations control of one of the largest sweeping companies in America to his son, Kyle.

Initially, Clean Sweep was a 'mom and pop' operation run out of the Hansen family home. It wasn't until 1972 that they built their first two-bay shop. Tragedy struck on February 7th of 1981, when the shop caught fire and burned down. For the next five years, it was all the Hansens could do to maintain their company through what became the most difficult years in Hansen's career.

From 1981 to 1983, the shop and the office had to be located in separate areas ­ far from an ideal situation. Eventually, they found a new location which seemed perfect, except for its size; it was too big. Although the cost factor created some challenges, it provided a great incentive for growth. Presently, Clean Sweep is gearing up for yet another move in February, to a new location about twice the size of their current one.

The Hansen family operations now include sweeping, snowplowing and striping services. They operate 52 pieces of equipment and, depending upon the season, have 40 to 65 employees. Several years ago, a Pavement Maintenance Magazine survey of sweeping companies ranked Clean Sweep 9th in the US in terms of total sales. Company growth since then has been, in the words of Kyle, "Phenomenal. In the last three years, we've purchased 6 other companies in our marketplace. All but one of these was a sweeper company. We grew at a rate of over 35% last year alone, and are projecting a higher rate of growth for 1997. The non-sweeper company was a diversification - we bought a roll-off container, waste disposal company.

"I think much of my father's success has been the result of his innovativeness and ability to develop good people. Dad doesn't micro-manage. He's a believer in giving people the right training, then the room to make decisions. We have some employees who have been with us as long as 14 years. He puts faith in those who work with him, and is willing to step back and let someone do their job.

"Also, when a new piece of equipment or some other innovation comes out, we are typically the first one in our market to have it. He has no fear of trying new things."

Determined to be environmentally proactive, Eugene started screening his sweepings about 5 years ago, long before it became popular. This was a move which paid off for the company since, today, unscreened street sweepings can't be incinerated in their county.

With the new roll-off business, the Hansens are working to develop increasingly positive disposal methods for sweepings. They have designed a style of roll-off container which can be dumped into by various models of air and broom sweepers. The collected sweepings can then be hauled away for processing prior to disposal. The Hansens are also investigating the reuse of the sand used in snow traction control, and are working with the EPA to determine the most beneficial directions to take on this issue.

Throughout his long career, Eugene Hansen has been an inspiration to many in the industry through his ethical standards and willingness to share ideas and information. He was an initial founder and member of the board of the first US sweeper organization, the National Contract Sweepers Association. Eugene and his wife of 37 years, Janet, also attend most of the national pavement trade shows. More than one article in past American Sweeper magazines has been a result of leads provided by Eugene.

We are pleased to honor Eugene Hansen as the recipient of the second-ever Award of Excellence In Sweeping.

This article is reprinted from American Sweeper magazine, Volume 6 Number 1.

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