Family Owned Sweeping Business Thrives through Struggles

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Jacketta Sweeping Services in Salt Lake City, UT, started like most family businesses, small. After years of hard work, dedication and no small amount of change, Debbie Jacketta, owner of Jacketta Sweeping Services, is ready to expand.

In 1968, Neil and Bonnie Jacketta purchased one Wayne ride-on sweeping unit to clean parking lots. “The business ran from our home for the first 10 years,” says Jacketta. “We all helped out by stuffing invoices in envelopes, answering phones and hand picking up parking lots when needed.”

Jacketta officially entered the business in 1980 after her first son was born, and in 2002 purchased the company from her parents. Today, the company has 14 different kinds and sizes of equipment: three parking lot sweepers, eight street sweepers, two air and six brooms and various smaller equipment including a power boss sweeper.

The equipment versatility enables Jacketta Sweeping to provide Salt Lake City parking lot sweeping and street sweeping services to many municipal, commercial, industrial, and construction companies throughout Utah. Depending on the season, Jacketta has 14 to 20 people on her staff.

“We primarily service the Wasatch Front, which is a 35 mile radius from our shop,” says Jacketta. “It has grown over the years. Occasionally we travel the entire state for road projects and have also worked in Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada.”

55% of their services include street sweeping (10% of that with municipalities), 35% parking lots and 10% other services that include scrubbing, power washing, striping, and winter services (plowing and salting). “Most of our customers are contractors, road, commercial and home builders and property managers,” says Jacketta. “A combination retail and industrial.”

[subhead] Growing with the times

Success hasn’t always been easy for the company. They have had to overcome their fair share of challenges to get to where they are today. “My dad's sudden death was a challenge both personally and in the business,” says Jacketta. “I do think my daily involvement in the business helped me through the grieving process.”


“A couple of years ago we had a computer crash and lost all of our information during the busiest part of the year,” Jacketta says. “That was the only time I felt like we were on the verge of going out of business. Since then we have set up and regularly check our back up procedures.”


Learning from the past is something that continues to help the business. “We spent a lot of time the last couple of years setting up processes for the company,” says Jacketta. “I hired a consultant that specializes in lean management. We looked for the biggest obstacle in the company, then go through steps several times or iterations until the problem is solved. When something works well we document the process and repeat it each time we do that procedure. It has improved our dispatching and customer service follow through immensely.”


Additionally, the company is undergoing an extensive marketing plan review to help with growth. “I did what I think a lot of business owners do with marketing. I thought that I knew as well as anybody how to market my business, but that may or may not be true,” says Jacketta. “What I did figure out is that it can be cost effective to hire somebody to write the blogs and posts and handle the website. The time either I or my admin spend figuring out what to say and getting it posted, is time taken away from what we do best. For a couple of hundred bucks a month somebody who writes all the time can get something out together with just a little bit of information from me about our business and customers.”


“I also occasionally do direct mail marketing and place a few ads in trade journals. I feel like it is a little hodge-podge so I hired a marketing company to review what we are doing and make sure everything ties together and is meeting our objectives.”


They are hoping to grow the parking lot portion of the company and may also expand their service area. A year ago, Jacketta’s website was also redone with a focus on helping the company show up organically on the first page of an online search. The company is also associated with 1-800-SWEEPER which shows up as a paid ad in a search. That gives them two opportunities to reach customers online.


“We’ve also joined some of the organizations our customers are members of,” says Jacketta. “We sponsor events at BOMA and IREM.”


Jacketta currently serves on the Board of Directors for the North American Power Sweeping Association and is the chairwoman of the Certification Committee. She was the President of The Contract Sweepers Institute (now the North American Power Sweeping Association, NAPSA) from 1998-1999. She is a member of the Salt Lake Chapter of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), and served as President in 2008-2009. In 2008, Debbie was chosen for the highly regarded Utah Business Magazine’s “30 Women to Watch” for her leadership of Jacketta Sweeping Service.

If you’re attending NPE in Fort Lauderdale January 8th-11th, make sure you are registered to hear Jacketta speak. Her session, “Increase Paving Productivity and Safety through Effective Use of Construction Sweeping,” is Wednesday the 8th from 1pm-2:30pm.

“I always love going to NPE,” says Jacketta. “I feel like I got my PHD in the sweeping business by attending NPE. The seminars are always educational and other contractors are always willing to share what has worked for them in their businesses and what hasn't.”