The History of the Victory Sweepers Product Line

Bob Schwarze, the father of Victory Sweepers' founder, Mark Schwarze, built his first parking lot sweeper in 1973. So successful was the design that – after less than 20 years the business – Schwarze Industries, Inc. had become one of the largest sweeper manufacturers in the world.

As industry old-timers will recall, the original Schwarze company was a huge success with contractors and property managers throughout the U.S. At one time, because of the Schwarze family's high quality sweeper designs and uncompromising level of customer service, the firm had gained the loyalty of over 60% of the entire U.S. market for parking lot sweepers. In 2000, Schwarze Industries, Inc. was sold to the public company, Alamo Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALG).

Six years later, Mark Schwarze founded Victory Sweepers, with the intent of re-creating the same atmosphere of offering simple, powerful designs for the sweepers and industry-leading customer service programs. Hampered by cash flow restrictions at the end of the recession and wanting to expand the company into a national and internationally competitive organization, in 2017 the ROOTS Group acquired the product lines, product designs and operating assets of Victory Sweepers.

ROOTS, a responsible corporate entity growing globally, is committed to technological, social, ethical and environmental betterment. It believes in delivering simple solutions for complex problems, with the best of technology and people.

ROOTS shall strive to make sweeping industry requirements by providing more comprehensive, value added cleaning solutions for varied customer needs with its 25 years of expertise in manufacturing of cleaning machines, equipment and sweepers.

For those readers interested to know the history of genesis of Victory Sweepers, here is the story:

Bob's entrance into sweeping was an example of attaining the great American Dream, gained through a combination of recognizing a need and finding a way to fill it. It all started in 1965, when he was working for the Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama. One day, while at a fast food restaurant, he noticed some employees picking up trash by hand in the parking lot. It made him wonder how owners of large lots dealt with this problem. A man of immense follow-through, he contacted the owner of the largest shopping center in the city, who told him that keeping his parking area clean was one of his biggest problems. He almost begged to give him a price for cleaning it.

Encouraged, and somewhat surprised by this one answer, Bob surveyed other parking lot owners and managers and got similarly encouraging responses. From this, he determined there was definitely an opportunity in the asphalt cleaning business – if a person had some equipment to do the job. So, he set out to see what was on the market to sweep parking lots. Back in those days, the only dealer of sweeping equipment in the area handled just large, mechanical broom sweepers actually designed for rock and gravel street sweeping. Not knowing it would be an inefficient and expensive way to sweep parking lots, he made the largest purchase in his life and bought one.

For five years he made it work. However, not only was the machine inefficient and prone to breakdown, but he found himself paying top retail prices for dealer-supplied parts even on sweeper specific chassis' items. Then he heard about the newly-developed concept of an air sweeper, and so took a look at what was available. Although there were a couple of companies manufacturing air vacuum units, he found their machines to be nearly as complicated as the expensive brush-type machine he already owned. What impressed him, though, was the basic air flow system that did the litter pickup. The air pickup system obviously made the machines a better design for parking lot work. Since nothing on the market had more than average performance and all were much more complex than necessary, he decided to make his own.

That decision became a pivotal one for the fledgling parking lot sweeping industry. Setting his sights on coming up with a simpler sweeper with a more powerful vacuum, he assembled his own design using off-the-shelf parts and a standard pickup chassis.

The first machine was made of parts assembled from all over the place. For example, the first hopper was a 750-gallon, skid-mounted agricultural spray tank. Most other components came from a hardware surplus catalog. The result was an ugly machine that he mounted onto a pick-up truck, and it worked great! When he started the small gasoline engine that powered the sweeper, and lowered the little sweeping head, you could hear rocks bouncing up the intake tube. And, because it was on a pick-up chassis, the sweeper proved to be maneuverable, comfortable and economical.

The ability to see design improvements runs in the family, though, and it wasn't long before Bob came up with an even better design. He made a second unit with new features, though he remained determined not to get drawn toward the over-complexity he'd seen with all the other manufacturers. The second version sported an attractive, custom-built oval hopper made by a local fabrication shop. Like the first one, it was built to be non-dumping. This meant the operator, Bob, had to use a shovel to manually unload everything the machines picked up. The automatic dumps on the broom sweepers had broken so often that he used to joke that he was used to it, though. At the time, he considered it a big deal that at least his sweeper was designed for easy shoveling!

As he started fabrication of a third machine, the higher level of efficiency also allowed him to expand our family's sweeping business to surrounding cities. It was one night while sweeping a parking lot in Birmingham, AL, a couple of hours from home, that his sweeper design first came to the attention of another contractor. A sweeper operator in an adjoining lot couldn't recognize the machine, so came over for a look. He couldn't believe the performance and simplicity of design, as compared to anything else he'd ever seen. Within thirty days he had placed an order for the first Schwarze Supervac and he suddenly found himself in the manufacturing business. It was in 1974 that Schwarze Industries was incorporated.

The simplicity of our Supervac design made it an immediate success. Orders mounted steadily on the strength of word-of-mouth advertising alone, and soon he sold our lot cleaning service in order to concentrate on developing new models. In those days, parking lot sweeping was largely an unknown service and, from the beginning, customer support was huge to Bob. Realizing that the market for sweeper services was expanding as rapidly as the building of commercial property, we set our sights on educating the general public about the opportunities available as a sweeping contractor.

At the same time, Bob was determined to do everything he could think of to assist the people who owned his machines, especially first-time buyers. Recalling his own difficulties starting out as a sweeping service owner, he was determined that other startups into sweeping wouldn't have to make the same mistakes he had. Under his direction, we developed educational material on equipment maintenance and troubleshooting, techniques for sweeping and factors to consider in costing and bidding a job.

People looking at entering the field of sweeping appreciated this customer-oriented approach and it wasn't long before the Schwarze customer base surpassed that of our largest competitor. In less than 10 years we had captured sixty percent of the contract parking lot sweeping market and over seventy percent of the larger shopping centers that owned their own machines used our sweepers.

In 1982, a diversification plan into the municipal street cleaning market was made. Because few vacuum machines existed with enough suction to clean curbs and gutters effectively, this was an area still monopolized mainly by the broom sweeper manufacturers. We felt that if we could design a sweeper powerful enough to enter this growing market that the gains we would make in manufacturing economies would help keep the costs down on our Supervacs, too.

We began design work on the largest machine ever built at Schwarze Industries, the Supervac Six. Our tiny in-house design staff put together a machine with a larger capacity, higher suction power, beefier hydraulic components and more auxiliary engine horsepower than anything we'd ever built. In 1983, a little over a year later, we introduced a working prototype that outperformed the industry leader's best municipal machine. This was quickly discovered, and by 1985 our list of happy users included such prestigious names as Boeing Military Airplane Company, the United States Marine Corps, the Republic of Taiwan and a long list of cities and airports.

Then, in 1988, we took another big step when we acquired Aaplex, Inc., a diverse but municipal-oriented air sweeper company previously headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. We continued to manufacture and market our municipal line under the Aaplex trade name, although later turned these into the 'A-series' line of sweepers. Unlike our direct sales force that we maintained to provide one-on-one contact to contractors and malls, we set up a nationwide dealer network to sell and service our A-series machines. By splitting our product line, we found that we were better able to give both our groups of customers what they need.

In 1992 a further expansion was undertaken in the municipal arena: Schwarze Industries purchased the production rights for the Murphy municipal broom sweeper (now the Schwarze M-series line). The purchase of Murphy gave us a product we could sell to all segments of the sweeping industry. At that point, no matter what type of power sweeper was needed, we could provide a sweeper to fit the need.

Since the company's incorporation in 1974, the industry-leading design and customer service philosophy grew Schwarze Industries from the initial six family members to a firm employing well over 180 people. Because that was our founding philosophy, the result was a success story both for our family and for our customers. In addition to offering the widest selection of sweepers, and being known as America's innovation leader when it came to sweeper design, our abiding goal was to continually find ways to give back to our customers. Starting in 1994, we began the long-term sponsorship of American Sweeper magazine and the AmericanSweeper.com, now WorldSweeper.com, website.

Other first for the sweeping industry were; the first sweeper manufacturer to consistently take used sweepers in trade; to sell direct as well as through a dealer sales and service network; to offer service loaners to customers; or to host a 'sweepers only' get-together (which was named the 'Schwarze Roundup'). Schwarze had became the sweeping industry association's biggest supporting member, at one time signing up and paying for over 100 new industry contractor association members in just a few months time.

The goal for Victory Sweepers continues to be to build the best sweepers in the marketplace as well as to re-form the special bonds our family once had with those in the sweeping community. When you buy a sweeper from Victory Sweepers, you will have an opportunity to learn first-hand what we mean by our slogan of 'Winning Together.'

We believe the sweeping industry is poised on the brink of its best days ever, ready to take its rightful place as one of the leading environmental industries in America. The demand for sweeping, in these times of continued business expansion coupled with rising storm water runoff pollution and air quality degradation, is increasing by leaps and bounds. You will find Victory Sweepers at the forefront of developing the technology required as this new chapter in sweeping unfolds over time.

 
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