EP Milling & Sweeping Company, Inc., Long Island, NY

EP Milling & Sweeping is a 17-year-old pavement maintenance business located in Farmingdale, New York on southern central Long Island above Fire Island, near Massapequa. Philip LaManna, EP founder and owner of EP, launched the startup in 2006. Since that time, he has achieved impressive growth of the company, which has become an integral service in the region. This experienced business owner recently shared some information and valuable insights with us to benefit NAS readers. 

Founder and Operator, Philip LaManna – Before EP

LaManna graduated from high school and completed two years of college. He reflects on his entrepreneurial career development from that point forward: I started working for a sweeping company at the age of 16 right out of high school. Then I worked for a milling and sweeping company for 24 years as a union operator and excelled at learning and running the equipment. When the company I worked for closed its doors, I took that opportunity to start my own business.

What’s Special About EP Milling & Sweeping?

What sets us apart is that we are a union company and we use the best equipment. We have several milling machines and street sweepers. Typically, a sweeper runs behind our milling machine for paving operations, which can be hard on the sweeper. All our milling machines, Astec (Roadtec model) and Wirtgen brands and Odra street sweepers are tier-4 equipment. They have the latest technology and electronic guides to ensure the operator isn’t “on his own” at any job site. 

EP Organizational Structure

The EP business model consists of two primary service channels – pavement milling and sweeping. The profile is about 65% milling and 35% sweeping. Philip and his team work with over 125 contractors per year. He emphasizes operational quality. We keep our machines in top condition. We do all of our own vehicle and equipment maintenance and repair work in-house. Most of my operators can diagnose and troubleshoot a breakdown onsite. 

If it can’t be done onsite, we will send a second machine to complete the work while a shop mechanic is sent to the customer’s site to work on equipment breakdown. In doing so, the contractor’s timeline isn’t affected, and the work can be completed in a way that satisfies the inspector’s and engineer’s requirements.

Growth at EP Milling & Sweeping, Long Island NY

The two service lines grow hand in hand as they are both necessary on a paving contract. In 2006, I had one machine and one sweeper. I now have almost ten machines and ten sweepers. There is always a high demand for my street sweeping services, so I do expect the growth to continue.

We don’t set goals for growth; it happens organically. Growth in my industry occurs along with increases in paving. The pattern I recognized was that not many companies were strictly renting equipment daily. Most companies mill and pave themselves. I stand out because I work with paving contractors to help them achieve their goals in a timely fashion.

About 95% of our new customers come by word of mouth. Around five percent come from contractors seeing my logo on my equipment or tractor-trailer, which leads them to google my company and gives them a way to get in touch with my office.

We serve about 10 to 15 contractors weekly and about 25 to 30 monthly. This consists of milling and sweeping and can be done day and night. The busy season for us is usually March to November/December, all depending on the weather.

Daily Operations at EP Milling & Sweeping 

The day-to-day operations are exactly that, day to day. Normally, my office will receive a call or text to schedule a milling machine and sweeper for a job. We receive information on the location, start time, onsite contact (foreman), and quantities to be milled/swept, so we can provide the proper equipment. The operators are then given a work order ticket with all those details. They get that signed after the job is completed. The contractor (customer) receives a pink copy for their record, and we keep the originals.

This ensures that my operators complete the work satisfactorily to the foreman’s instructions and quality requirements. When the operator comes back to the shop, they are responsible for refueling the sweepers, power washing them, and greasing them to keep them functional for the following day.

Equipment at EP Milling & Sweeping

The street sweeper is 100% essential to milling operations. A contractor’s clean-up crew (backhoe, skid steer, buckets, blowers, and rakes), can only do so much. The sweepers remove the finer materials near curbs and edges that other equipment can’t clean as efficiently.

Our operators never just sweep milling debris off the pavement. We always pick up what we sweep. That material is then loaded into a dump truck, trailer, or dumpster for the contractor to remove and dispose of.

We service all of our equipment at 250-hour intervals. When a piece of equipment breaks down onsite and cannot finish the day, the operator will make notes and take pictures of the problem. When they get back to the shop, they write the information on a whiteboard for the mechanics to look at. We identify the problems, and our shop mechanics have a checklist to make sure the equipment is repaired and safely operational for the next workday. 

We tend to rebuild most of our sweepers during the winter/off-season from the ground up to prepare for the following year. For purchasing, we look for quality sweeping equipment and parts with reliable support and service from dealers/vendors. Extremely important: the more basic the machine the better. The fewer hydraulic lines, wiring, and computers, the better. Because most of these new technologies are so sensitive and can be damaged easily by dust and vibrations.

I don’t go out of my way to look for the latest technology advancements, but working with 125+ contractors per year keeps me informed. My operators tell me about contractors with new and upgraded equipment and practices and contractors will let me know what they will be doing differently next year and how that may or may not affect us.

EP Team Culture, Industry’s Finest on Long Island 

I have eight non-union workers and employ between 10 and 18 union employees per week. Of the eight non-union people, two of them do the administrative work, dispatching/scheduling, contracts, insurance, DMV renewals, billing, etc. The other non-union employees are my shop mechanics, ground men, and tractor-trailer drivers.

When we hire a new employee or obtain a union operator who is new to the industry, we typically send them with a seasoned operator to shadow them for a couple of weeks. The experienced operator will run the equipment until they feel like the new hire can handle it. As the experienced operator observes (a couple of feet away) he can correct or teach the new operator a more efficient way of operating the machine that ensures the safety of everyone on the site. 

I boost the morale of the workers by getting out there on the floor with them and working on the equipment like I did when I was 16 years old. I am an easy person to approach, and I appreciate it when someone is willing to learn and gain experience. I expect any new employee to come here with the mindset of always learning and growing. This is an industry that needs the younger generations to get into the trades to fill the gap from those who are retiring.

Challenges for EP in the NYC Commercial Sweeping Market

The most challenging aspect of being a NY business that works with paving contractors is that it is a seasonal industry. Depending on the weather, we could work from March through November. Or, if we have a mild winter, we can work from February through December. (When COVID was at its peak, we didn’t start work until May and were done by October.)

Asked his thoughts about any potential outside forces that may affect the company in the future, Philip answers, I don’t think of negative conditions that may arise. I take it one day at a time, and ensure that I do my part, and focus on what I have some control over.

Advice for New Sweeping Business Owners from Philip LaManna, EP Inc., NYC 

If this is an industry you can see yourself in, you must learn the equipment from peak performance to the most complicated breakdown. Evaluate the time, costs, insurance, and how involved you want to be. If your interest is in a more passive level of engagement, it may not be the industry for you. If you want to come up with creative solutions on the fly constantly and you do well under pressure, this may be the right choice for you. Use quality equipment. (I recommend ODRA for sweeper trucks; they used to be called a Broom Badger but now just ODRA.)

Beyond those essentials, my way of doing business is based on my morals. I do right by the contractor/customer by under-promising and over-delivering on results. As the owner and operator, with time, I have built a reputation of honesty and integrity for myself and my company and I have been able to keep recurring clients for almost two decades.

Spread the love