Dust is one issue sweeping contractors can face in the Southwest. During July and August, Arizona is faced with dust storms and monsoons. Duscher refers to these cleanups as the Arizona version of storm damage. As a result, sweepers encounter several challenges cleaning up sites after the dust storms roll through.
Last summer, July 2011, one dust cloud was 10,000 feet high and 50 miles wide, it was so large that it made national news. “It was a dust that was like talcum powder on everything,” Duscher says. “We ran water trucks and sweepers nonstop for several weeks to pick that up. I don’t care what kind you had, they would not pick up the powder left behind by those dust storms. The sweeper would go 20 feet and there was so much powder that the sweeper was just a cloud of dust driving off.”
In such situations, Duscher will run a water truck and the sweeper together to control the cleanup of the fine dust. If the client really wants the parking lot to sparkle, he will charge his clients an hourly rate and bring in a water truck.
The monsoons that normally occur in July and August also create added situations for cleanup. “The monsoons make muddy messes everywhere,” he says. “When the mud stains the asphalt you get back to, ‘That looks horrible.’ Sometimes we have to use a mixture of both sweeper and water truck to make it look good.”
Winter Brings Tumbleweeds
A standard prop in old Western movies, the tumbleweed provides a few challenges for sweeping in the Phoenix area. While the plants grow in the spring, come fall and winter they die beginning their roll through the area.
“Our biggest hassle is tumbleweeds because sweepers don’t pick them up,” Duscher says. “They’re large, round, 2 to 4 feet high, covered with stickers and they clog the vacuum sweepers up in nothing flat. If the sweepers do start picking them up, they take up so much volume that our Husky is filled up fast. The broom sweeper can do it, because it just beats them to death until it is a bunch of sticks.”
Tumbleweeds are a huge mess to sweeping contractors. In some situations, they can pile up as high as a car or become caught in fences.
The most likely area to find tumbleweeds is on lots near open desert. “We had one parking lot that we insisted the client put up a barrier because it was impossible to sweep the lot with the tumbleweeds blowing,” Duscher says.
While Duscher states his company is small, growth is in his future plans. “We are very surprised and pleased how fast we have gained business with the parking lot sweeper,” he says. “We are putting a lot of focus on sales just to that one unit. Because its not construction related the beauty is it’s not covered in phone calls of how fast can you be here. We really like that, so we want to expand that end of our business.”It is much easier to make a business decision when you know how much work is in front of you. With water trucks, construction sweeping and parking lot sweeping we can be in at the beginning of a new building, raw dirt, and take it all the way to maintaining the finished product.”