Expansion into sweeping pavement maintenance pays off

By Jeff Winke

Facing the unexpected can generally get the heart racing. It can generate panic or excitement and always disturbs the general flow of life. An out-of-the-blue opportunity in business can be good and launch a business in a new direction, which can be very positive.
Taking advantage of an unexpected business opportunity invigorated one company, Above & Beyond Hydroseed, based in Ridgefield, Wash. Since 2002, Above & Beyond Hydroseed has been providing hydroseeding, erosion control, and drainage solutions services to clients across Portland and Southwest Washington. As they phrase it, whether it’s a 400-unit housing development or improvements to a resident’s front yard, Above & Beyond is the best choice.

A few years back, Above & Beyond received a request from a large client that fell outside of their then core specialty services. The builder needed the subdivision streets of one of their projects swept and wanted to know if Above & Beyond could handle the job of thoroughly and professionally cleaning the streets.

John and Valerie Dewitz, married owners of Above & Beyond Hydroseed were then faced with the choice — decline their good customer’s request or do what they could to help out with this unanticipated request. This was a few years before they would add the Bucher Municipal V65t vacuum sweeper to their equipment fleet.

The response to the client was, “We don’t have a sweep truck, but we’ll subcontract that out for you and manage it to make sure it’s done right.”

For roughly the next three years, Above & Beyond hired a subcontractor to sweep the client’s requests for street sweeping. Unfortunately, the results were lacking, according to John Dewitz. When Above & Beyond’s client voiced their displeasure, the subcontractor responded to the concern by bringing in multiple sweeping machines for a task that should only require one.

“As we looked deeper into the problem, we learned that the subcontractor was using the wrong type of street sweeper,” stated John Dewitz. “They were using regenerative air sweepers, which are not as effective on the porous asphalt application we had. The regenerative air street sweepers weren’t adequately picking up the particulates in the porous asphalt application.”

John and Valerie Dewitz realized that with their company name, Above & Beyond, there’s no way they can settle for substandard results.
“We needed to take ownership of the situation and take control,” Dewitz said. “We started researching options to regenerative sweepers with the idea of purchasing the sweeping equipment and adding pavement cleaning to our offerings, so we can ensure our customers receive the above and beyond quality that matches our name.”

The research led to Bucher Municipal North America, Inc. which offers a full range of sweeper products that include vacuum, mechanical, and air regenerative technology. The company offers a sweeper product range that extends from narrow, agile compact sweepers through to heavy-duty truck-mounted sweepers designed for wide surfaces. Above & Beyond Hydroseed connected with the Bucher Municipal local representative for the northwest who helped them select the correct technology and the right size machine for their needs.

Shawn Hutchings, western regional sales manager for Bucher Municipal, helped John and Valerie Dewitz and their management team narrow their choice to the V65t truck-mounted sweeper. The V65t sweeper features twin engines, an 8.5 yd3 hopper capacity, and up to 141 inches swept width with the simultaneous sweep option. The Bucher Municipal V65t features a JCB 55 kW industrial engine designed for operating in a dusty environment. Throttle control of the auxiliary engine is infinitely variable, which is designed for optimum operational and fuel efficiency.

Once set to operating performance, the twin-engine sweeper system is designed to perform at the same level regardless of gradient and travel speed. The sweeping operation can be paused or stopped and sweep gear lifted so the operator can move between locations without having to disengage a separate drive.

“The machine seemed capable of doing everything that we were looking for, and we decided to make the purchase,” said Dewitz. “With the Bucher Municipal V65t sweeper that we purchased, it performs well, and we’re getting the results we’re expecting.”
Not only do the results look better, said Dewitz, but using the V65t has also boosted efficiency and productivity.

“The fact that I’m not taking three trucks out to do one job like our subcontractor did is going to be a huge saving as well,” said Dewitz. “On certain sites, on some larger sites mainly, we’re seeing about a two-hour difference as far as the sweep time.

The project site which prompted Above & Beyond Hydroseed’s move into the pavement sweeping maintenance niche has approximately 100 home sites, which the company sweeps about 30 sites a month.

All the sediment that was not getting picked up by the subcontractor had been ground into the porous pavement month after month. That means the crew at Above and Beyond Hydroseed are seeing improved results each time they go into the subdivisions.
More importantly, so is their client. Dewitz said he used to hear his client question whether the previous subcontractor had even done the job.

“Now they definitely see that we’ve been there,” said Dewitz.

The unpredicted expansion move into a new service area appears to be paying off handsomely for Above & Beyond Hydroseed. They are literally sweeping things up for customers who are pleased with the results.

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through jeff_winke@yahoo.com