Schwarze Celebrates 50 Years of Service!

After 50 years, the consistently extraordinary quality of Schwarze products and service has made the manufacturer an American business institution. The brand is renowned in the commercial pavement sweeping industry. The organization has cultivated an internal culture of deep team commitment to its mission and an utterly customer-centric environment. Schwarze’s continuous innovation to solve problems for their users and the company’s unique service model of 100% accessibility has inspired its customers to an unmatched level of loyalty and enthusiasm in helping promote the famous supplier in the pavement sweeper market.

50 Years of Industry Leadership!

For the full story of the great company’s history, culture, future plans, and leadership, Jim Adair, Schwarze Director of Product Management, is, by all accounts, the go-to source. He shares with NAS the knowledge of why only Schwarze has exceeded expectations at such a sustained rate for over five decades in the national market.

Jim Adair has been with Schwarze for about 47 years. He came on board not long after the startup and has significantly contributed to the Schwarze team and customer experience through the many years. Jim offers all stakeholders unique insights into the company’s continuing success. First, looking back, he explains that the company founder, Bob Schwarze, started out as a contractor working with machines that were designed for street sweeping.

Jim knew the Schwarzes before Bob started the company. He recalls that Bob’s first sweeper was an MB (mechanical broom). A lot of the parts were proprietary. Bob wanted to create a sweeper that was simpler so that people could get it repaired or parts to repair it from local sources. Then, Jim says, things took off from Bob’s plan to solve that problem.

He goes on to explain that in 1974, Bob Schwarze started with rudimentary parking lot sweepers he developed into low-dump machines that would go into landfills and then high-dump machines that would offload into dumpsters. In ‘86, he started making sweepers for streets and runways.

Jim recalls that Bob did advertisements, such as, “There’s a gold mine in your backyard,” and, “Be your own boss,” among others. As a result, there were lots of mom-and-pop start-ups by people getting into their own businesses with Schwarze sweepers.

Schwarze Becomes a Public Company

In 2000, we were looking to go public or become part of a public company, and the Alamo Group (ALG) had a lot of the same ideals as we did. So, it felt like they were a good match, and we became a public company through Alamo’s acquisition. With Alamo’s backing and support, Schwarze continued to grow the contractor-based sweeper business that it was well known for and expanded business to city, state and federal entities.

We were the first company Alamo bought that wasn’t involved in tractors. They wanted to acquire companies that maintained the right of way. (Jim is talking about maintaining the literal right of way on roads through towns.) Alamo also acquired Super Products, a manufacturer of catch basin cleaners, as well as NiteHawk, now a Schwarze sister company.

From a sweeper on the back of a pickup truck to high-speed runway sweepers, to highway sweeping vehicles, we’ve built every type of sweeper and still have the most diversified product offering today.

Schwarze Leads the Industry in Innovation

Jim sums up the Schwarze company’s enduring philosophy through the years: Basically, we’re just listening to the customer’s needs and trying to provide a solution rather than just a product. We’ve always tried to maintain consistency in terms of innovating. We’re always looking for how we can best provide a solution for the customers. Sometimes from bottom-up design and sometimes from modifications to products we already make (customizations).

In 1988, we acquired Aaplex, and as part of that company we obtained what was initially the A7000. We redesigned it and it became the A7 Tornado. We’ve developed a lot of regenerative air and mechanical sweepers. In 1992, we acquired Murphy Machinery, made modifications to their model, and it became the M5000 by Schwarze.

With the M6000, we started with a clean sheet design, listening to what customers want in a mechanical sweeper. We continued to listen to our customers and note where we could make improvements to the sweeper, and we redesigned the M6000 to what it is today, the M6 Avalanche. The M6 Avalanche is produced as a twin, single, and compressed natural gas (CNG) engine sweeper. We have an all-electric version currently being tested. The M6 Avalanche EV is slated to roll out in late 2024 or early 2025.

Sweeping performance is something we’ve taken pride in for many years. Our parking area sweepers have long been known for picking up a solid brick, and our high-speed runway sweeper can pick up 70 pounds of sand in two-and-a-half seconds. The M6 Avalanche passes a test in which we pick up over 8,000 pounds of sand in 64 seconds.

Our customers can probably expect another announcement of something exciting between now and then. We tried pressing Jim to explain, but he kept the specifics under wraps. So, look for a big reveal this year from Schwarze in addition to the new electric Avalanche line!

Yet another transformative equipment change by Schwarze has disrupted the industry. The manufacturer has gone from a dual motor to a single engine that runs everything off the chassis engine. Jim explains, we started with over 90% of our machines with twin-engines and now we have over 90% single-engine sweepers. The single-engine option is becoming more and more popular. People like the simplicity of having one engine.

You’ve just got one engine to maintain, one set of filters you’re maintaining, etc. Plus, it saves sweeper truck owners the costs of the auxiliary engines, which have gone up so much, and the additional emissions regulations testing. The single-engine solution minimizes that set of concerns for operators.   

So, What Do Schwarze Customers Say After 50 Years?

Now, all these decades after Bob Schwarze launched his humble startup, Schwarze customers offer the most meaningful assessment of the supplier’s performance record over the past half-century. Below are some statements gathered from long-time Schwarze customers serving major markets:

Warren Burge, Clean Sweep, Baton Rouge LA

I’ve been in the sweeping business for about 35 years. Our first sweeper was a 347 Schwarze back in 1997. Over the years, I’ve developed a relationship with them. We did mostly parking lot and construction sweeping. It’s convenient to have all the parts interchangeable, so I like to stick with one brand. Schwarze has always taken care of what they’ve sold. I have had a long and strong relationship with them. You tell them what you need the truck to do, and they’ve always had a truck that worked really well. We still run mostly Schwarze.

Jose Moore, Moore Clean LLC, San Antonio TX

We’ve been in business here for about 23 years in San Antonio, and we have tried almost all the brands. What stands out to me about Schwarze is the customer service. If I call, someone is going to pick up the phone. If I need a part, and they don’t have it there, they’ll go out and find it. We run 17 Schwarze sweepers. Anyone who says they’re perfect is a problem for me. I don’t believe in that. But I do believe in customer service, and they’re the elite in customer service. It’s hard for me to ignore that.

Freddy James, Big Easy Parking Lot Maintenance, LLC, New Orleans LA

I have used Schwarze sweepers since 2001. The customer service has been just amazing. When I call them, a human answers the phone, which is really great. Since I bought that first Schwarze, I’ve found that not only was I buying the best sweeper out there, but they’ve helped me so much it’s been like having a new family. Not only do I have their work numbers, but their personal cell numbers. I’m nowhere near their biggest customer, but they treat me like I am. I can’t say enough about them because they’ve always been right there for me.

Guy Macauda, GJM Construction & Maintenance, Boston MA

I’ve been pavement sweeping for about 20 years. Ever since I switched to Schwarze Industries, I’ve always been able to reach a live person when I need parts, etc. The sales rep always returns my phone call right away if I have a question about maintenance, etc. And they’re very easy to talk to. When I need equipment, when it’s down, they can produce it really quickly. In the past, I’ve worked with other sweeper manufacturers, and they didn’t have parts ready to go. Schwarze has all the parts for the equipment, so their assembly line is always moving. They’re always making something.

Mike Pate, Pateco Services, LLC, Atlanta GA

I’m a big fan of Schwarze, the way they do things, the way they take care of me. I’m always treated more like a good friend than a customer. They go out of their way to help even though I’m not a huge company. So, many times over the years, they’ve helped me with parts and information. I’ve got all the personal cell phone numbers for everybody over there, in sales, management, and parts. That’s why I won’t go anywhere else.

Carl Gardner, Griffin Parking Area Maintenance, Inc., Tampa FL

Dealing with Schwarze over the years (since 2006), they’ve worked very well with me. I’ve gotten some very good information from them when my trucks needed work. They’ve sent information even if it meant doing it overnight to keep my trucks running. My Schwarze sales rep keeps me informed when they’ve got deals running. The customer service is very helpful. If I have a problem, I can always count on them, and the parts department can usually get me what I need overnight and keep me running.

Chris King, King Enterprises of Eastern NC, Inc., Raleigh-Durham NC

I have literally grown up in the sweeping industry. I was riding in sweeper trucks before kindergarten. I’m 56 years old now. For every kind of sweeper we’ve had, there’s always been something we could do to make them work better. But the current generation of Schwarze updraft, super-updraft, and Vortex sweepers are at the pinnacle of sweeper efficiency. I cannot do anything to improve them. We have had almost no issues. But whatever minor things we have had come up, they took care of them right away.

What Distinguishes the Schwarze Brand After 50 Years?

The theme that clearly emerges from the customers’ comments is that Schwarze’s equipment and service quality stand out very distinctly in the industry. That collective customer experience outcome aligns ideally with Schwarze’s expressed philosophy and straightforward formula for success the team has applied over these 50 years. It’s always been about consistently delivering the market’s best sweeper products to meet customers’ specific needs and incomparable customer service.

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