Parking lot sweeping is often a service unknown to people outside of the industry, and Windell Brent was originally a member of that group. Now, nearly 24 years since opening Commercial Property Maintenance, Brent has built a successful business on “Quality through dependability, pride and communication.”
Brent began CPM, located in Albuquerque, NM, in 1988 after a friend was looking for a reliable sweeping and landscape maintenance contractor. “After 13 years I was terminated from the electric utility in Albuquerque,” he says. “My friend was a property manager/developer for office buildings and malls. They couldn’t find anyone that would show up two nights in a row.”
With a business degree, Brent felt confident in opening a business and decided to start a sweeping company. He originally completed all of the sweeping and landscape maintenance for his friend’s five properties. In three years CPM had grown into a decent sized company, purchasing its first Tymco sweeper in the early 1990’s.
With 30 employees, CPM services the Albuquerque Metro area and surrounding communities. The contractor generates 60% of sales from parking lot sweeping, 20% from commercial landscape maintenance, 15% from exterior pressure washing and 5% other services.
Setting a standard for equipment
Within the first five years of operation, Brent implemented an equipment plan that regularly updates units and monitors equipment performance. By following the various aspects of his procedure, Brent has been able to develop and maintain efficiency. Currently, CPM operates one Tennant, two PowerBoss’, seven Tymco Model 210s and one Tymco 600.
CPM has a maintenance program and an in-house mechanic who handles most repairs and maintenance. “If he is too busy or is uncomfortable with repairs we will farm them out to a repair company.
“We maintain our equipment diligently,” Brent says. “If we take care of it our machines they will last longer and do a better job of meeting our customers’ needs. We work hard at maintaining and keeping it functioning properly. You won’t have to go back and re-sweep the area if the machine is picking up the debris properly.”
CPM also maintains an inventory of stock parts to ease maintenance and repair and get the units back on the street quicker. “It was easier and more cost-effective to stock spare parts as we grew and stayed with similar types of equipment,” Brent says. “This allowed us to keep the inventory lower.”
And even with top-notch maintenance CPM upgrades with a new Tymco Model 210 every 16 to 18 months, selling the oldest piece of equipment to keep the fleet rejuvenated. With this purchasing schedule CPM is currently on unit number 21.
Another critical piece of equipment for sweepers is a backpack blower. “In the beginning, we would assign each employee a numbered blower,” Brent says. “We found a lot of damage to blowers and no one owning up to the damage.” To resolve these issues, Brent installed a rack to hold 12 blowers with chains welded into each slot. Each employee was given a key to access only his blower.
Successfully managing growth
Maneuvering through years of growth can be challenging for any type of businesses. With 24 years in the sweeping industry Brent has experienced his share of growing pains, but he took several steps to properly manage the changes to his company. “Once we started growing, I didn’t want to grow too quickly,” he said. “I think a lot of companies get too excited about all of their new business. Growing too quickly is the demise of a lot of companies.”
One way he managed the growth of CPM was to monitor his bidding. “If I’m getting more than one out of three bids I go back and look over my bids to see if the price is too low,” he says. “If my bids aren’t producing work, I rethink my bids because they may be too high.”