EcoSweeping, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO

EcoSweeping, Inc. serves the Pikes Peak area of Southern Colorado. EcoSweeping is located in Colorado Springs, about 60 miles south of Denver. It operates over 6,000 feet above sea level, an even higher elevation than Denver, which presents special equipment performance challenges due to lower-than-normal oxygen. The company continues to grow, with currently about 200 accounts. The Chamberlains’ commitment to environmentally sustainable operations and its ability to maintain long-term relationships with peer businesses, customers, and the community have made it one of the region’s fastest-growing pavement-sweeping businesses.

Colorado Power Sweeping Community

Mark started the business by searching for two weeks to find his first paying customer for $80 per month. That company is still an Eco customer today, 24 years later. The Chamberlains have grown the business into a highly successful local employer and are now developing the construction sweeping services side of the company. EcoSweeping currently has 10 employees and operates several vacuum trucks and a couple of mechanical broom trucks, for a total of five sweepers.

Changes in the EcoSweeping Leadership Team

Mark and Becky Chamberlain, Owners of Eco Sweeping, have been together since age 15. They’ve raised their three sons. With the kids all grown, Becky became increasingly involved in the business and the industry. Since we spoke with the Chamberlains back in 2020, Becky has become a NAPSA Board Member. The EcoSweeping website has also developed a robust blog page. And, the company has brought Brian Brobeck on board as the Operations Manager. For this NAS Spotlight update, we discussed the past and future of EcoSweeping with Mark, Becky, and Brian.

Mark reflected on the family company’s culture of motivation from a life of working together, being a team, building a family, building a business to be proud of. Back in 2020, when we first met Mark, he talked about the couple’s straightforward business philosophy and how it has carried the team through the past two decades and will take it forward into the future:

“We pride ourselves in timely responses, quality workmanship, clear communication, and loyalty. Since we are in a small market, my family and I run into our customers at grocery stores and restaurants on a regular basis. We are very proud of the relationships we have built in the community. We cherish those relationships!”

He further emphasized the Eco team’s environmental philosophy, “Being in Colorado, the environmental impact and footprint of any business is not only part of the regulatory process but also part of our local culture, so we are committed to running the eco-friendliest operation possible to do our part in keeping Colorado clean!”

Innovating for Revenue Channel Growth During Covid-19

Eco Sweeping Owners, Mark and Becky, and Operations Manager, Brian, tell of the Covid years and the advancements at the company since the time of our talk with the leadership team in 2020. We noted a couple of services not mentioned in our original coverage of Eco’s business model that have since become much more prominent in the company’s routine — Portering and Debris Removal.

Mark reflects on the period, “If you were monitoring, I would attribute our significant growth in portering and debris removal to Covid. I reached out to my 1-800-SWEEPER friends to ask what they were going to do to cope with the situation we were experiencing, and we began kicking around ideas. Most of us were seeing a decline in billing quickly, because of the customers’ uncertainty. That’s when the portering and debris removal requests increased.” But, why?

Mark explained, “Some businesses wanted to go from 5 nights a week to once a month. But, I started realizing there’s no more important time for them to keep sweeping than when there are used surgical masks, rubber gloves, and disinfectant wipes all over their parking lots. So, we emphasized the need to increase sweeping service, and we spread the word to our peer businesses at 1-800-SWEEPER.

We sent out email blasts and sent individual emails to our largest customers with 30 or 40 properties each. We included pictures of some masks and gloves and wipes on parking lots. We posted a red banner alert on the homepage of our website about the need for additional sweeping during Covid. I also used my LinkedIn page to mention it.

We had been following what the customers said at first, during Covid, when they wanted to cut back their sweeping frequency, but when we started emphasizing the need for more sweeping instead, many agreed. Overall, our portering has gone up because of that too.

Since 2020 – Business Beyond Covid

About the recent years of Covid’s impact on business operations, Mark recalls, “We certainly had to become creative with scheduling and routing, but also had to prioritize for the benefit of the organization by examining customer accounts. We weren’t worried but we did have to focus on making the necessary adjustments.

Then, when the labor shortage came, everyone was in the same boat, getting ghosted by applicants. Those were stressful times (which continue today regarding applicants). But we came out stronger. Now we’re ready to implement and start working on some things we’ve been planning for growth, opportunities that Covid had stopped in their tracks.

I can’t stress enough the sleepless nights during that time. But, we were able to call on everyone in our [1-800-SWEEPER] group. Business owners in different regions had different struggles, different lockdowns, and different rules. It was a scary and difficult time, but it made us stronger.

Our profitability remained strong, but we had to cut the fat. Revenue doesn’t equal profits. For the sake of our margins and stability, we trimmed the fat from some accounts. It caused us to become stronger by watching the margins, and we have the technology to do that. We focus on management down to the second now, and I’m crunching those numbers. But I didn’t always do that.

More is not always better. So, we’ve come out stronger, leaner, and meaner. Now I would say we give better customer service than before when we were growing too fast.

National Labor Shortage During Covid

“I think that the biggest struggle through Covid and up to now has been hiring good employees, and when you do hire one, having them actually show up. Brian agrees, “Hiring rate turnover, I would probably characterize as our top challenge. It’s been difficult to find and retain talented, reliable people you can count on to get the job done.

We now even advertise on the trucks with placards that say, “Now hiring,” and through job boards, and a variety of other means. In response, we got a lot of unusable applications, and it appears to have been due in many cases to people applying with no intention of taking the job.”

Operations Management at Eco Sweeping Inc.

Becky notes that keeping up with environmental standards in the state is a core challenge for the business. Further, she sees the operational goal as, “doing the best for our customers — always trying to focus on what their needs are, and being the company that does that for them.”

The person charged with advancing that goal is Brian, whom we’ve introduced above as EcoSweeping, Inc. Operations Manager for the past three years. Brian had been in management and leadership positions since he came out of college. He retired from his role as U.S. Army Battalion Commander at Fort Carson in 2018. After 21 years in the army and multiple deployments, he was looking for a little hands-on part-time work that would free him to be with his family.

Brian briefly listed some of his new management responsibilities, “I do all the scheduling of customers and properties, building the routes each month based on the scheduled properties, integrating the non-regular calls into the schedule for each truck’s nightly routes. Then I load that information into our routing software, which provides drivers with their routes and truck assignments on their phones as well.”

Looking to the Future of Eco Sweeping

The Chamberlains love their business. Mark offers his evaluation, “I think it’s great, the size of the team we have for a little company. But, Becky and I are not yet where we want to be. We’re currently looking at opportunities, resuming conversations we were having that were literally stopped on the day Covid started [became an obstacle]. We’re exploring growth opportunities. That starts with meetings, and we never know where these things can lead. But, now that Covid is over, we’re ready to move forward.”

We can announce here now that in a follow-up email discussion within a week or so after this interview, Mark informed us that he and Becky are excited to announce that they have just purchased the Clean Sweep pavement sweeping company. Clean Sweep was one of Eco Sweeping’s competitors in Colorado Springs. Clean Sweep had been in business for nearly 50 years. Of embarking on this grand new adventure, Mark said simply that he and Becky are excited about the acquisition and are looking forward to the future.

EcoSweeping Technologies

Also brought from our 2020 interview with Mark, a takeaway point about powerful tech tools used to optimize efficiency and oversight in modern commercial pavement sweeping, “We use various technologies. Our front- and rear-mounted dash cams, with artificial intelligence, include facial recognition that is so observant that it can determine if an operator is looking at his or her phone. Our dash cam and GPS systems also track harsh braking or turning, speeding, and erratic driving with alerts. It also includes geo fencing, and it provides real-time route optimization systems to keep our drivers performing efficiently.”

Today, Brian adds to the Eco leadership team’s commentary on applications of advanced GPS technology in sweeping industry management, “I think the GPS and software data enable better decisions and allows you to analyze a variety of data points in a way that you couldn’t if you were doing it off a map or your head. But, you still have to have an overall plan to get the most out of that.

That means knowing the city and planning in the flexibility of being able to adjust routes and schedules based on the ups and downs of customers’ requirements, ramping up and scaling down flexibly as activities change on the ground.”

Sweeper Truck Maintenance Needs in Colorado

Becky mentioned, “The standards in Colorado are pretty stringent. We have an issue here with maintaining sweeper trucks due to the amount of dust and sand we get. That’s because of the winter months when there’s so much debris it eats at our trucks more than in other areas of the country.

So, the fans and stainless steel hoppers take a lot of wear comparatively. In other places, operators may never have to replace fans and use welders to repair hoppers. In our case, we change fans more frequently, and Mark lines the hoppers with additional rubber and silicone to everything in the fan housings to minimize the friction from sand used on roads during winter. In Colorado, sand used for that purpose contains granite material, which is much more destructive to the hoppers than other types of sand.

Advice for Industry Newcomers from Eco Leadership

What advice for new market entrants does Mark Chamberlain offer? From early 2020, “Be prepared to get dirty. Work night and day. Become a NAPSA member and do not wait to join 1-800-SWEEPER.” From mid-2023, “Joining 1-800-SWEEPER was the most transformational business decision we’ve ever made. It gives you the benefits of combining hundreds of years of collective experience. They want to see you reach your goals. I don’t know how easy it would have been without it.” Mark also still makes sure to mention the benefits of working with Scenic City Studios as their web marketing firm.

Becky recommends that new sweeping business owners who have not joined NAPSA rethink that decision. She emphasizes the many advantages of joining for companies and their employees, such as up-to-date industry training and certifications for drivers and sweeper fleet business managers, marketing tools, supplier discounts, and networking with industry professionals and peers, among other benefits.

Advice to the industry from Brian, “It’s not groundbreaking, and people in the industry already know this, but efficiency is king. If you take the time to plan your routes and schedule, there’s a lot to be gained in energy, time, and fuel savings.”

He adds a lifestyle note to his recommendations for industry newcomers, “One thing I’ve appreciated a lot after being in the military and traveling all over the world is the experience of working for a small family-owned business. I really enjoy it after all those years in government. I would highly recommend working for a small to medium-sized business for anybody from government employment who wants to work for a small team that takes care of each other.”

As I look back on it now, after transitioning from 20 years in the military, going off to some large faceless corporation somewhere is a challenge I probably would not have wanted. Being a part of a family-owned business, where we all know each other, makes it all much more worthwhile for me.”

For more information about EcoSweeping Inc. commercial pavement sweeping services in Colorado Springs Colorado and throughout the greater Pikes Peak region, see​

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