1-800-SWEEPER Blog

Lexington Pavement Sweep – From Bucket to Business

Sep 28, 2017

Lexington Pavement Sweep – From Bucket to Business

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Many of the 1-800-SWEEPER Partner companies started off as small operations. But perhaps none quite as small as Jim Blackerby’s Lexington Pavement Sweep, located in Lexington, KY. Jim got his start in the business cleaning up his Grandfather’s shopping center.

Jim’s grandfather owned a shopping center which, by Jim’s teenage years, had become an extended family business.   Jim’s father, who was managing the retail center, hired Jim to literally pick up trash in the parking lots by hand. As he describes it: “All I had was a bucket; I picked up every single cigarette butt and all pieces of trash by hand – no picker.” This continued until Jim graduated from high school. After Jim headed off to college, his father and grandfather eventually hired a commercial sweeping company, but there was continually dissatisfaction with refuse being left behind.

Fast forward several years to 1993 – Jim has graduated from college, become a stockbroker and started a family of his own. With a young son and looking for some extra income, Jim approached his father about a part-time job. Jim was willing to clean the shopping center’s parking lots if they were still unhappy with the service they were receiving. So, bucket once again in hand, Jim got up at 5:30 each morning, hand-picked the parking lot for an hour returning home to shower and suit up for his day as a stock broker.

Several months into his part time trash-picking job, Jim receives a call from one of his financial services clients who says: “Jim, I hear you are picking up trash.” Wondering where this is going to lead, Jim acknowledges that he is in fact cleaning a parking lot. The client’s response: Well, you know I own a shopping center. Why haven’t you asked if you can clean mine?”

So, Jim started getting up an hour earlier and cleaning this second lot by hand. Another brokerage client managed a much larger shopping center – this one too big to be cleaned by hand – and asked about Jim’s ability to take on cleaning the center.

At this point, Jim realized he needed to purchase a sweeper truck and planned to hire an operator. While waiting to take delivery of the truck, Jim went out and added additional sweeping contracts to make sure he could cover the truck payments beyond the jobs already booked.  Within 3 months – the truck’s schedule was completely filled.

Jim never hired the sweeper truck operator. Instead – his days just got longer and longer until he was getting up to run the sweeper truck at 11:00 p.m. to sweep the parking lots. It got so Jim could hardly keep his eyes open at work during his day job as a stockbroker, so he resigned.  A second truck and several employees were quickly needed.

Jim’s son — whose birth started this whole sweeping business rolling — eventually began working for Lexington Pavement Sweep while still in high school, continuing during his years attending college.  With degree in hand, following graduation from the University of Kentucky, Jim’s son realized he had also been bitten by the sweeping bug.  To Jim’s delight that son – James Blackerby III known to the family as Jimmy — has moved an hour west, and started Louisville Pavement Sweep.

To this day, Jim keeps the focus of his business on serving the retail commercial shopping centers and office complexes that started him in business as a teenager. Because Lexington is centrally located in Kentucky, a 30 to 45 minute drive-time allows Lexington Pavement Sweep to service a lot of cities: Frankfort, Georgetown, Richmond, Berea, Winchester, Mt. Sterling, Danville, London, Somerset and Harrodsburg to name a few.

That single sweeper truck and one route has now grown to many, but Jim’s core love of the business of sweeping remains the same.  Jim has always said that if he was going to be picking up trash, regardless of by hand or with a sweeper truck, in the middle of the night, he would be the very best at doing that.

Lexington Pavement Sweep strives to instill that mindset with every member of the company. Jim tells his employees: “Loving what you do, knowing that very few people could do what we do each and every night, in any type of weather, is key.  Feeling the satisfaction of instantly seeing the finished results of our hard work throughout the night is a wonderful thing that few jobs can provide.”

Lexington Pavement Sweep also provides snow and ice removal service for their sweeping customers.  Jim believes that when a parking lot is covered under snow, there is no other person with more knowledge about the parking lot than the sweeper truck driver who is on that lot nightly. This knowledge of the parking lot saves the curbs, speed bumps, manhole covers and grates from being damaged by snowplows.

Jim is excited to have Lexington Pavement Sweep as a Partner in 1-800-SWEEPER. Even in his first few months, he has spoken with and received tremendous advice from many other members.  Jim is thankful for that candor and hopes that he has a chance in the future to return the kindness, friendship and maybe even offer some advice that others will find helpful.