2017 Sweeper Roundup a Rousing Success

  by Ranger Kidwell-Ross, Executive Director, World Sweeping Association Bridget Burge“We’ve been going to conferences for a long time, including the National Pavement Expo since 1994. WSA’s Sweeper Roundup was the best we’ve ever been to. The Roundup included a good mix of educational seminars and fun and it was great spending time with all of the other people in the sweeping industry.” —Bridget Burge, principal of Louisiana-based Clean Sweep, Inc. Other attendees made similar comments. Although a first year event,  the World Sweeping Association’s Sweeper Roundup,TM held in Kansas City, MO, the middle weekend of September, garnered positive reviews from all sides. The Roundup also received widespread support from the manufacturing community, with over a dozen different sweeper models on display from companies including Elgin, Global, MASCO, NiteHawk, RAVO, Scarab, Schwarze Industries and Well Made Manufacturing.  A group of attendees from Louisiana-based Clean Sweep, Inc. and Michigan-based C&J Parking Lot Sweeping & Maintenance all had lunch at a local restaurant, along with Bill Goodwin and Tobias (Toby) Weissenrieder, who were there from Germany representing sweeper manufacturer Aebi-Schmidt. After that, everyone assisted in setting up the Sweeper Rodeo course so it would be all set for Saturday afternoon. We also unpacked the Elgin Whitewing sweeper model Kenny Page had built, which generated a huge buzz and all manner of tinkering with it to get the brushes and main broom re-set from getting shipped so we could see it operate. The video link below shows the Whitewing as well as includes an introduction to the Sweeper Rodeo course layout.

If you’d care to start out by taking a look at the Roundup’s event program, use this link.

The Friday Night Cocktail Party

The event’s Friday night kickoff provided an opportunity for attending contractors and manufacturers’ reps to get acquainted on an informal basis. Attendees took over the top floor of JC’s restaurant for a cocktail and dinner party that included the screening of the 2002 sweeper-related Junkyard Wars television episode. As industry veterans may recall, that was an episode where engineers from Schwarze and Elgin faced off to build competitive air and broom sweepers from junkyard parts. The leader of the winning team, Jim Adair, who is now Schwarze’s Director of Product Management, was in attendance. That only added to the fun.  WSA’s top raffle prize was also introduced at the Friday event. This was a scale model replica of an Elgin Whitewing sweeper donated for the event by long-time sweeper aficionado, McKinley Page. The replica had battery packs that allowed the meticulously built model’s curb and main brooms to spin, as well as travel across the floor! You’ll be able to see more about the Whitewing further down this Roundup overview. Cocktail Hour Sweeper Pics The Friday night cocktail party proved to be an ideal way for all of the attendees to get to know each other. In other circumstances people were greeting old friends they knew from previous sweeping-related conferences and shows. I gave a heartfelt brief thank you and welcome to all which I can tell you was incredibly terrific! (And the reason I can do so is that, although we thought we were getting it down on video, there were technical difficulties that resulted in that not happening. So, I guess you had to be there to dispute the absolute greatness of what I had to say…) It was genuine fun seeing the ever-revolving knots of people talking ‘sweeper shop’ with each other. This included contractors discussing issues affecting them while, at the same time, various manufacturer reps were talking to contractors about what type of sweeper(s) they’d brought; different manufacturer personnel were talking to each other about the kinds of current issues facing the manufacturing sector and, no doubt, much more.

The Saturday Morning Seminars

    Sweeper SeminarsSweeper SeminarsContractors uniformly praised the four seminars held the next morning. However, later on in the day several attendees — after hearing about the info that was provided at the seminar they hadn’t attended — told me they wished that event scheduling would have allowed them to attend all four seminars. Due to time constraints, the seminars were presented two to a time slot. As a result, each of the attendees could attend only two of the four. Utilizing available technology one of the seminars, Maintenance to Minimize Downtime and Maximize Vehicle Longevity, was streamed onto WorldSweeper.com’s Facebook page while it was occurring. Keith Chambers, my assistant who handled this project , reported he was even able to respond in real time to a viewer who had a question about a sweeper maintenance issue. Keith was then able to ask the question of the presenters and they provided the answer in real time to the remote viewer. I noted that the video, as of 10 days later, had reached a total of 875 viewers online, or more than nine times the number who were in attendance at Sweeper Roundup. Cool stuff, eh?!
Note: Links to videos of the other three seminars, as well as to our ‘Lunch-and-Learn,’ will be provided exclusively to World Sweeping Association Members. The seminar videos will be archived on the WSA website, along with Members-only access to more than 250 other sweeping contractor-targeted articles and over 100 podcast interviews with sweeping contractors in the U.S. and around the world. Plus, there are many other benefits of WSA Membership. Join WSA today and receive those links plus a 60-day Guarantee of Satisfaction! Membership is just $325/year.
After the two sets of seminars, we all gathered together for a ‘Lunch-and-Learn.’  While munching 6-foot hoagie sandwiches, contractors and manufacturers’ reps discussed a variety of topics to do with the future of the industry. As moderator/speaker, I especially reminded them about the important role power sweeping plays as the first line of defense against water quality degradation and listed off ways to utilize that info in their marketing (both for selling sweepers and for selling sweeping services). We filmed a video of this portion of the Roundup; however, as is the case for the rest of the seminar videos, that will be made available only to Members of the World Sweeping Association. Wouldn’t now be a good time to join? Remember, all new WSA Members receive a 90-day complete Guarantee of Satisfaction. Phil Duncan, a principal with Maximus Insurance, one of our Roundup Sponsors, spoke on safety issues having to do with sweepers and their operators. As an increasingly major insurer of sweeping contractors nationwide, Phil is working on developing a safety manual that will address many important safety training and liability factors. I also discussed the potential ramifications of the new Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule, the initial provisions of which took effect on September 23rd. We additionally discussed other topics before heading to the waiting shuttle buses for the short ride to our next venue.

Saturday Afternoon’s Activities

Gail's Harley Logo The initial slate of events on Saturday afternoon were held at one of the nation’s largest (and certainly most beautiful!) Harley-Davidson dealerships, Gail’s Harley-Davidson, where over a dozen sweeper models from eight different manufacturers had been arrayed impressively in one of the company’s expansive parking lots. As a long-time attendee at the National Pavement Expo (NPE), where the sweepers on display are dotted here and there about an enormous indoor room, I must say it was much more impressive and enjoyable to see them all sitting side-by-side in an outdoor setting. Plus, I believe the turnout included substantially more individual sweeper units — and most certainly more different sweeper manufacturers — than I’ve ever seen at the expensive NPE venue. Street Sweepers on DisplayContractors had the afternoon available to view all the sweepers as well as ask questions of the waiting representatives of the different manufacturers. Although I’ve seen most all models of sweepers, it was a treat for me to view for the first time machines that were there from RAVO, Scarab and Well Made. David Dyck of MASCO was onsite with a sweeper, as well, even though MASCO doesn’t typically display at NPE. It was also great fun seeing the camaraderie between all of the attendees, both contractors and manufacturers. Smiles abounded! Also Saturday afternoon, we conducted the Sweeper Rodeo that WSA Advisory Board attendees from Clean Sweep and C&J had created by setting out cones in a very challenging layout.  More than two dozen participants were timed as they navigated a narrow, winding course in the Gale Force that Schwarze Industries donated  for use at the Rodeo. Overseen by a judging team led by KC contractor Ryan Bertholdi, of Moonlight Sweeping LLC, the course generated laughs and enjoyment by the hoppers-full as participants tried their best to go as fast as possible around the narrow, winding course. Plus, it wasn’t just about going fast without going off the course and/or nicking cones along the way… At a midway stop the drivers — or, in some cases, their partner — exited the cab and grabbed a handheld blower. Within a 15-second allotted time frame they then did their best to corral an assortment of simulated debris — consisting of a soccer ball, three tennis balls, five ping pong balls and a wet diaper — into a nearby plastic crate. As you might imagine, this wasn’t exactly an easy task and watching contestants trying to do so led to much merriment. The course then continued on for the second half before ending with each driver attempting to back between a row of ‘penalty grapes’ to see how close they could get to a dumpster without actually hitting it. Hilarity ensued from both drivers and onlookers. If you’d like to see how the Rodeo was scored for ethe participants, check out the PDF of our Rodeo scorecard. In the following video we have the husband-and-wife owners of Colorado-based All Sweep, Inc., — Sherry Lincoln, sweeper driver and Jerry Lincoln, blower specialist — as they provide a birds-eye view of navigating the challenging 2017 Sweeper Rodeo course. As you will see — and not unlike many if not most of the other participants — at one point their sweeper goes outside of the course markers. Still, the dynamic duo finished within the top tier of the over two dozen other participants! Now, here’s the view of the same run by Sherry and Jerry from the onlookers perspective…

Saturday Evening’s Activities

Holsman Stables The evening portion of the Roundup was held at the Holsman Stables Event Center, also owned by Gale Holsman, president of host sweeping contractor, American Sweeping, Inc. The evening’s planned entertainment included a campfire, catered BBQ, live music by the fabulous Selle Brothers, a ‘hayride wagon’ pulled with a tractor driven by Gale and our awards ceremony.  Ray Worth T-birdHolsman StablesMany started off by going on a tour through the area where approximately 60 horses — many with vintage pedigrees — call home. One attendee mentioned that one of his biggest thrills was to be able to pet the great granddaughter of Seattle Slew. (The thoroughbred race horse who won the Triple Crown in 1977—the tenth of twelve horses to accomplish the feat and the only horse to have won the Triple Crown while having been undefeated in any race previous.) At one point or another, pretty much everyone also took time to admire the fully restored 1957 Ford Thunderbird brought for viewing by owner, Ray Worth (Gail’s father and also a longtime owner of a Kansas City area Harley-Davidson dealership). Fun at Holsman Stables Fun at Holsman StablesWSA picked up the tab on catering in a BBQ dinner with all the trimmings from legendary KC restaurant, Jack Black’s. It became a time when old and new friends sat and chatted together about all manner of topics, mostly related to power sweeping and how to operate their businesses. As I walked around listening to the various conversations and checking in with folks, it was clear the camaraderie that had developed — both contractor-to-contractor and contractors-to-manufacturer reps — served to bring conversations to very interesting levels. Sherry Lincoln BirthdayDuring the day, Jerry Lincoln had confided to me that it was his wife, Sherry’s, birthday. Although normally a person able to keep secrets well, being in the news business, in this case my assistant and I dashed to a store where we could find a birthday card that folded out, suitable for having many signatures added. Due to the the willingness of Schwarze Industries’ Brenda Bell to take the card around to everyone with the stealthiness of a cat burglar, pretty much everyone at the event signed the card without Sherry being any the wiser before we presented it to her along with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to You!  
Seele Brothers Band After dinner, the Selle Brothers Band, one of the top rock ensembles in the Kansas City area, took the stage. Their excellent harmonies and musicianship provided an excellent backdrop for the event. At one point, Gale Holsman — a longtime guitar player — joined the band in several songs. I also sat in on drums for the video below. I thought you would enjoy Gale singing and our rendition of the classics, ‘Born to be Wild’ and ‘Mustang Sally’ even though by that time his voice was about gone due to presenting his seminar that morning along with his tireless organizing of so many facets of the Roundup. This video was streamed as a Facebook Live event during the Roundup.

This brief video, which was also presented on Facebook Live during the Roundup, shows the beautiful sunset behind the stage and the attendees in the event area about dark.

Sunset at Sweeper RoundupThough not actually on the agenda, attendees were also treated to a light show via a gorgeous sunset combined with distant lightning display that took place over the outdoor stage where the Selle Brothers Band was playing. As though a blessing was being placed on the entire event, simultaneous with the sunset a rainbow appeared in the opposite direction over the food tent, adding even more magic to the first-time affair. By the way, another of Gale’s spinoff companies, TotalVenue, supplied the stage, which his team fabricated onto a trailer so it unfolds just right. As you will see by visiting his companies’ website, Gale Holsman’s organization is the very definition of ‘ just make one call to get what you need.’ First Place TrophyThe Rodeo was won by Tobias Weissenrieder, a representative of German sweeper manufacturer Aebi-Schmidt, who used his German Autobahn skills to attain a total time, after penalties and mark offs, of a minute and 41 seconds. (Did Toby really have Schwarze’s Gale Force on two wheels during one of the Rodeo turns? Guess you’d have to have been there to see for yourself..) Gail Worth and Bill GoodwinTied for second place were Bill Goodwin, also from Aebi-Schmidt, and Gail Worth, hostess for our afternoon event, who clearly used her Harley riding skills to good advantage. A spirited round of rock/paper/scissors determined that Gail got the second place trophy and Bill was designated as third. Also earning a trophy was our last place finisher, my assistant Keith Chambers, who actually did an admirable job considering he’d never been in a sweeper prior to his run through the course. Keith and RangerKeith eked out the win (er, loss?) by only a few seconds over/under the closest contractor. His time through the course was actually pretty good, at a minute and 27 seconds but his total score was downgraded by some serious grape squashing and penalties for the two cones that became lodged under the sweeping head during his run. Our generous industry sponsors had donated a wide variety of items to an ongoing raffle. Although everyone got a complimentary raffle ticket as one of their ‘goody bag items,’  (big thanks to Elgin and Schwarze for providing the great bags!) we also sold tickets at $5 apiece, or five for $20. Ray Confer, owner of C&J Sweeping, drew upon his Lions Club skills to work the crowd selling raffle tickets. That an opportunity for the nearly 100 attendees to add almost $1,000 to this charity event’s coffers. Elgin WhitewingAs previously mentioned, the top prize was that scale model of the vintage Elgin Whitewing sweeper that had been hand made by well known sweeper enthusiast, McKinley (Kenny) Page. Second prize was a $300 parts credit donated by NiteHawk Sweepers. The widely coveted machine was amazing, with a rotating gutter and main broom and the model even moved on its own power on a flat surface. Colorado-based principal of EnviroSweep Services, Robert Pitman, was the lucky winner. Money raised by the raffle, along with proceeds from the entire weekend event — which had all of the normal venue rental fees as well as all labor donated — will go to WSA’s Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Roundup Had to End…

HayrideAfter the awards ceremony had concluded and the last raffle prizes were distributed, all who chose to do so were taken for a ‘hayride’ around the property by Gale Holsman. He used one of the Ranch’s tractors to tow what is actually a large, comfortable wagon decked out with bench seating. As the last glow of the day started giving way to the night sky, it seemed like a very fitting way to end the Sweeper Roundup. New and old friends who all had one thing in common — being steeped in an occupation that I daresay most of the people in the world have never even thought about, the power sweeping industry – gathered together for a last outing together before we all went back to our respective hotels and, then, homes and families.
If you were an attendee you will probably enjoy our Roundup slideshows. See one you want in a higher resolution for your wall, website or social media? Let me know the number(s) of whatever ones you want and we’ll email them to you!  

WSA’s Thank You’s are Numerous and Heartfelt

This event wouldn’t have been possible without the all-in support by Gale Holsman and his best buddy, Gail Worth, who graciously provided their venues, equipment, etc. at no charge. Thanks also to all of our seminar presenters, who did a tremendous job. Gale’s American Sweeping and Holsman Stables Teams were led by Lynn Cline and Lisa Yasel, respectively. Those incredible ladies took the lead at every opportunity and turned in an especially professional performance at every turn. Thanks also to Gail’s PR coordinator, Kelly Springer, who acted as an ever-so-capable liaison for everything that took place at Gail’s Harley-Davidson. All of our events at the various locations also involved a number of other teammates behind the scenes, which enabled our Roundup to be professional at every turn. Thanks to you all; you know who you are! My assistant, Keith Chambers, was our social media maven for the event as well as responsible for bailing me out in a number of tech-savvy areas as they cropped up. It wouldn’t have been the same without  him there. And then there are our wonderful sweeping industry sponsors, vendors and contractors alike, who stepped up to make sure we could not only cover our expenses, but would actually end up with a positive tally to put toward WSA’s Memorial Scholarship Program. We’ll let you know when we have a final tally. Take a look at the companies shown below and remember, as I know they will, that they chose to take part in advancing the power sweeping industry in a very significant way by helping to sponsor the first independent educational conference ever held for power sweeping contractors in the United States of America. Sponsors
All-in-all, we couldn’t have wished for much more to take place at the World Sweeping Association’s 2017 Sweeper Roundup — America’s first independent conference for power sweeping contractors — except for YOU to be there (if you weren’t). Representatives from several sweeper manufacturers have already expressed interest in making WSA’s Sweeper Roundup an annual or semi-annual event. Time will tell where it goes from here. If you have questions or comments don’t hesitate to let me know. — Ranger Kidwell-Ross, Executive Director, World Sweeping Association

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