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The TYMCO Organization Remembers Richard "Dick" Grassey
Richard "Dick" Grassey, who headed up one of the first TYMCO dealerships in America, is remembered as a "first class, stand-up guy respected as a businessman, mentor and friend."
by Kenneth and Gary Young, The Young Manufacturing Company (TYMCO)
TYMCO would like to remember Mr. Richard Grassey, and thank the Grassey Family and all the employees at Grassey Equipment for representing TYMCO Sweepers for over 40 years. Most importantly, we would like to recognize Mr. Grassey and Grassey Equipment as the first authorized TYMCO dealer in the Northeastern United States, and helping promote Regenerative Air as a truly competitive alternative to using mechanical broom or pure vacuum street sweepers.
Mr. Richard R. "Dick" Grassey was born at home in Wayne, New Jersey on June 25, 1931. He graduated from Peddie School and Dartmouth College. Mr. Grassey and his wife, Marilyn, were married for 58 years and lived in Allendale, New Jersey for 55 years. They have three children, Rick, Doug, and Brenda; as well as three grandchildren, Alexander, Rickey, and Claire. Dick and Marilyn traveled extensively and own a winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida.
Mr. Grassey was President of the Paramus, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, very involved in the Dartmouth Alumni Association, an avid golfer, and a huge New York Giants fan – holding season tickets for many years. He also loved fishing and docked his boat for many years in both Stuart, Florida and Tappan, New York.
After being honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant from the United States Marine Corps, Mr. Grassey opened R.R. Grassey Contracting. Later, he began Ramapo Excavating in Oakland, New Jersey.
Two of the numerous projects Ramapo worked on were the cutting of the Palisades Ridge for the I-80 connection to the George Washington Bridge, and a difficult excavation job for Mars Chocolate in Hackettstown, New Jersey. Around 1960, Mr. Grassey constructed a building in partnership with Mr. Gene Vanderweiden, owner of Parking Area Construction Company (PACCO) in Paramus, New Jersey.
Also around this time, Mr. P. Warren "Butch" Suter came to work for Ramapo as an equipment operator. After the completion of this first building, Mr. Grassey and Mr. Vanderweiden partnered together on several other projects – Ramapo would excavate and grade the site, and PACCO formed the curbs and laid asphalt.
During these projects, Mr. Vanderweiden suggested to Mr. Grassey that Ramapo buy a power sweeper for faster top coat preparation instead of manually sweeping the lot with brooms. Mr. Grassey agreed and at auction, Ramapo purchased their first mechanical broom street sweeper. Not long after the company bought its first sweeper, Ramapo began receiving numerous requests to contract sweep for different projects.
First it was construction sweeping, then sweeping on the Hudson Waterfront, followed by industrial sweeping. Mr. Grassey then formed New Jersey Sweeping and Maintenance Corporation (NJS) and Mr. Suter was one of NJS' first sweeper operators. The construction industry in Northern New Jersey was booming, but fiercely competitive.
Mr. Grassey saw an opportunity with NJS to not only provide construction and industrial sweeping during the day, but also provide parking lot sweeping for shopping centers and malls at night. NJS grew rapidly; Ramapo was eventually phased out, and Mr. Grassey moved NJS to Glen Rock, New Jersey in 1969.
In the late 1960s, Mr. Grassey also met Mr. B.W. Young, the founder of TYMCO, at a tradeshow. Mr. Young's new sweeper was designed with a unique and innovative technology, the Regenerative Air System. Mr. Grassey was intrigued with how much less maintenance was required to operate a Regenerative Air Sweeper compared to his current experience of operating several mechanical broom street sweepers both during the day and night.
At the time, Mr. Grassey had one issue with Mr. Young's sweeper – the TYMCO Sweeper did not come with a gutter broom. The two men discussed the gutter broom concept during the tradeshow, and Mr. Young said "No problem. I'll build you a gutter broom." Mr. Grassey replied, "Well B.W., when you do, send me some pictures and then I'd like to try it out. If I like it, I'll take one!"
That first meeting between Mr. Grassey and Mr. Young led to a long and successful business relationship for over 40 years. After Mr. Grassey's visit to TYMCO in Waco, Texas and purchase of his first TYMCO Sweeper, he started replacing his mechanical broom sweepers with TYMCO Model 600s and Model 300s. Mr. Grassey believed in the Regenerative Air concept so much that he decided to sell NJS, and formed Grassey Equipment to represent TYMCO as an authorized dealer. Mr. Suter continued working for Grassey Equipment and gave over 37 years of service supporting TYMCO Sweepers in North New Jersey.
Mr. Grassey along with Mr. Tom Maish, another early TYMCO dealer, as well as several other influential businessmen in the power sweeping industry, were instrumental in the development of the National Contract Sweepers Association (NCSA), National Contract Sweepers Institute (NCSI), and Contract Sweepers Institute (CSI).
These industry organizations were predecessors to the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA). Mr. Grassey and Grassey Equipment represented TYMCO Sweepers from 1970 to June 2012, providing over 40 years of outstanding support for TYMCO owners in North New Jersey. During those years, Grassey Equipment was recognized as a TYMCO Top 10 Dealer over 20 times.
We know that his employees, business associates, and competitors alike thought highly of Mr. Grassey and that he influenced many within the power sweeping industry.
Mr. Grassey decided to retire and close Grassey Equipment in May of 2012. He passed away Wednesday, September 19th after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Grassey is remembered as being tough, but fair, and as a person who could always be counted on to say and do the right thing.
He was especially generous with his employees, who he considered to be like family. In total, Richard Grassey was nothing less than a first class, stand-up guy. We have the utmost respect for Mr. Grassey as a businessman, mentor and friend, and are proud to thank him publicly for all he did for both TYMCO and the power sweeping industry.
If you have remembrances of your own, let us know. If appropriate, we'll amend your comments to the bottom of this article.
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