Other equipment includes two 2,000-gal. flush trucks, four single-axle dump trucks, nine wheel loaders, two sweeper scrubbers, two Bobcat skid steers with a variety of attachments, eight Pro-Tech plows (which attach to the loaders), numerous salt spreaders, one Vac-All machine, and a variety of other support equipment.
While the plows and salt spreaders obviously are relegated to winter snow removal work, the other equipment is devoted to specific types of work for specific types of clients. By owning equipment to meet specific customer needs, it is easier for Buckeye Sweeping to respond to last-minute or emergency customer requests. But the equipment also can be shifted as needed so the company can maintain a flexible operation to provide service where it's needed.
"We get a lot of calls at eight or nine or sometimes even later at night from paving contractors or general contractors and they need us someplace at six in the morning and they got so busy they forgot to call. ‘Can we still do it?' Yes we can.
"We try to tell them it helps us if they can give us some notice but most of them already know that. But things come up, days get busy, and they forget. Or sometimes the job just pops up for them and they need us. Well, we're there. That's what we do."
Day and night at Buckeye Sweeping
Barkman says the fleet, employees, and service focus is divided into two operations, day and night. Night operations involve, almost exclusively, sweeping parking lots, and Buckeye Sweeping handles more than 300 parking lots each week with its six SK Sweeper units.
"We average five trucks out there a night and sometimes all six are out on the job," he says. The drivers get in the office by 10:00 p.m., pickup their route list, go out and sweep, and return between 6:00 and 8:00 in the morning.
In another effort at simplifying the business, each sweeper truck has only one person, the driver, who does all the work on each property. Each driver cleans sidewalks and blows litter and debris from corners and from beneath shopping carts and from other hard-to-reach areas.
"With only one person on each job the drivers feel more responsible for the work they do," Barkman says. "There's only one person to point the finger at if a job isn't done right."
Though Buckeye Sweeping doesn't have a formal training program, all new hires, whether experienced or not, spend two weeks in the cab of a sweeper with an experienced Buckeye driver, learning how Buckeye wants its work to be done.
"That's at a minimum," Barkman says. "If they're good and they pick it up then we put them in a unit by themselves after the second week. But some people need a little longer."
He says he offers competitive wages and medical benefits to keep good employees as long as possible, and 12 of his employees have been with the company for the long term.
Night supervisor Roger McCauley is a former nighttime driver whom Barkman promoted to schedule the sweeps and monitor the work to make sure it's done to the client's satisfaction.
"We never used to have a night supervisor but it got to the point where we were running so many trucks at night and sweeping so many properties that we just needed someone to be here to organize each night's work and solve problems throughout the shift," Barkman says.
And then there's the more-involved day shift. Work on this half of the schedule, which often requires significant juggling of equipment, can involve street sweeping, sweeping behind a milling machine, construction site cleanup, industrial park sweeping, scraping mud from pavement, flushing pavements with water after sweeping, and more.
The workhorse of the day jobs are the six Mobile sweepers Buckeye Sweeping seeks out on the used equipment market, buying them for both parts and to recondition and refurbish before putting them to work.
"We try to make everything as simple and as easy to operate and repair as possible, so we've tried to standardize our equipment as much as possible," Barkman says. "That's the main reason we rely on only two types of sweepers."
He says that not only are all the Mobile parts interchangeable and the equipment can be used on similar jobs, but once a mechanic learns how to repair one Mobile or SK machine, he knows how to repair all the others and that keeps our equipment on the street producing for us and our clients.