Hy-Tech Property Maintenance Grew to Dominance Through Competence and Compassion

 

Hy-Tech's Slogan

 

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Hy-Tech LogoIn 1985, Virginia’s Marc Chimento launched himself into the sweeping business by making an unlikely choice for a first sweeper – a slide-in Tennant sweeper with no gutter broom or dump. “It was all I could afford,” said Chimento. “To clean the curb I broke a pushbroom handle in half and taped the shortened broom to my arm. I’d hold the chassis door open with my foot as I drove along with my arm hanging out cleaning the curb. Then, when it came time to dump, that meant shoveling out the hopper with a coal shovel.”

Perseverance paid off, though, and it wasn’t long before Chimento purchased what he calls his “first real sweeper,” a Schwarze 343-D. From that modest beginning, though with many an up and down in between, Hy-Tech Property Maintenance has grown into a do-it-all contracting powerhouse with over 100 employees and a roster of in-house expertise that spans over a dozen types of services.

Hy-TechLiberty Hy-Tech’s expansion was far from overnight, though, and the company has experienced many ups and downs over its 28 years of existence. At first, Chimento had no thoughts of providing more services than sweeping. However, he did see the value in assisting customers by arranging for other services to be done, such as striping, seal coating and other exterior maintenance services.

“The problem was,” said Chimento, “many of the subcontractors I would line up wouldn’t do a good job. Or, they wouldn’t show up when they were supposed to. I kept getting phone calls from irate customers who complained not about our company, but about a sub I had lined up to do work for them. At some point, it became clear that the best way to both grow the company and save our reputation was to start providing other, allied services.”

Service List Sealcoating was the first to be added to the portfolio, followed by striping and then landscaping. Paving was perhaps the largest jump, says Chimento, since the equipment was so expensive to purchase. And, in a recessionary time in 2005, the company hit some dire straits when it lost over $2 million in paving contracts alone. However, with the aid of its diverse portfolio of services, which include all you see in the graphic to the right, and more, Hy-Tech was able to weather the economic storm. Today, the company self-performs all its services, and even utilizes internal employee expertise to purchase houses, fix them up, and then sell for a profit.

Developing a business that has in excess of 100 employees is clearly a building process, and Chimento credits the move he made to hire a woman with an HR degree as having been a pivotal move. From that point on, the HR professional has been in charge of Hy-Tech’s hiring process, which has resulted in what he calls a “very solid, dedicated and professional team.” No doubt part of the reason for that, however, lies in how Chimento trains, and then treats, his people.

“She handles both our hiring and firing,” said Chimento. “That has very much been a positive for us. We typically end up with people who are a good fit for the job they’re supposed to do. We also do drug-testing (which they sub out to a service company) and randomly drug test throughout our company every month. I believe that has contributed to building a better workforce, too.”

Dumping into RolloffHowever, there’s no question that Chimento knows how to keep his people happy. The company provides hospitalization, paid vacations and profit-sharing to its employees. He also credits his commitment to open communication throughout the firm to keeping employees ‘on board’ with the goals of the company. Part of that communication process, which Chimento says was initially the most difficult, was to be open to letting employees know about both the good news and bad news concerning the company.

“What I’ve learned, though,” said Chimento, “is that my employees truly do have the attitude that they want to help this company be more profitable. They know they share in that and so it’s definitely important to each of them to get involved in making our company’s reputation, services and bottom line all better. I share with them much about the state of the company, both good and bad. That’s been a huge plus for us over time.”

An aspect of Hy-Tech’s employee involvement might be some of the other surprising employee benefits Chimento has put into place. One is what they call the “Dream Team” concept. Management has actively solicited ‘if only-type dreams’ from workers; things they wish they had in their lives that are, as far as they know, unattainable. In the podcast audio interview accompanying this article, Chimento covers three such ‘dreams’ that came through for employees due to getting the financial strength of Hy-Tech involved.

Hy-Tech Eagle SweeperOne man had bad teeth and his dream was to have them taken out so he could have dentures and a smile once again. This is one the company simply put into place for the employee, getting him a prepaid appointment with a dentist for the removal of the teeth, then the outfitting of dentures. The man’s smile, says Chimento, is fabulous and used often.

In another instance an employee was being challenged by a car that kept breaking down and making him unable to get to work. The company helped him shop for a car, even though the employee couldn’t qualify for a loan. The company paid for the car and the employee paid back the loan and still had a fine running car after it was paid off. For another employee, the company bought and renovated a house for him and then got it financed for him and his family, who are making the payments. The ripple effect throughout the company of a program such as this is bound to pay big dividends in a variety of areas, including employee loyalty, longevity and work ethic. “I feel that, including all the employees’ family members, I have 300 lives in my hands,” said Chimento. “That’s a responsibility I take very seriously and think about every day.”

The largesse of Hy-Tech spills over into community service, as well. The company’s charitable contributions vary widely, with benefactors that include organizations for the fight for human rights (United to End Genocide [formerly Save Darfur]), the hungry (World Food Program), the disabled (The Smile Train), the sick (Susan G. Komen for the Cure, St. Jude’s Children Hospital), his church (Church of the Epiphany), and local area police, fire, and rescue departments.

Hy-TechBikes350wAt the top of the list is a program they got involved with in 2010 called “The Christmas Train.” 365 days a year, the company takes in donated bicycles and collects funds to provide the Amelia County Christmas Mother/Father Program with bicycles. That first year, 139 bikes were donated and there really was a “Christmas Train” as Marc, his co-workers, and other elves were escorted by Amelia County police to the drop-off location. In 2011 the number was 150 bikes; in 2012, a total of 210 bicycles were donated to the program. “I remember where I came from,” comments Chimento, “and so give generously to those in need.”

In between giving to others, Chimento operates a company at the forefront of re-defining what ‘full service’ means. As a visit to the company’s leading-edge website will illustrate, this is a firm that is large and in charge, creating positives in every aspect of the footprint it leaves on its community. From handling virtually any type of property maintenance and pavement-related challenge with quick response and thorough follow-up, to involvement in making its home community a better place to live, Hy-Tech Property Services, Inc. is up to the task.

Every sweeping contractor will benefit from listening to the podcast that accompanies this article. It runs 64 minutes and is guaranteed to provide every contractor with a few ‘nuggets’ and ‘aha moments.’ Marc Chimento has built his company into one of the most full-service firms in America, as well as one of the largest sweeping companies.

You may reach WSA member, Chimento, via the company’s website, www.hy-techproperty.com. If you have questions or comments you’d like to provide to the WSA Team, send them to us using the Contact Form shown below. Also use that form if you’d like to us to consider your company as one of our Featured Contractors. Otherwise, comment using the typical comments’ section at the bottom.

 

 

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