How NiteHawk Continues to Change the Sweeping Game
By Erin Moore
The global company and sweeping industry leader known as NiteHawk came from creative yet humble beginnings. The late inventor and manufacturer Jack Rodgers envisioned a lighter, more powerful sweeping machine, and in 1985 Rodgers patented the first hydraulic sweeper. Over the next ten years, he worked tirelessly to refine the prototype, a machine that would make waves in the commercial service industry for many years to come.
In 1994, NiteHawk Sweepers, the company, was officially formed, named for Rodgers’ original sweeper model. Shortly thereafter, young entrepreneur Brad Morris purchased the patent for the hydraulic sweeper, shortly thereafter Tracy Day came on as a partner. They took on the challenge of bringing this game changing idea to the marketplace. Jack Rodgers passed away in 2006, leaving behind not only a legacy of technological innovation, but of a warm and generous spirit still remembered fondly by all who worked with him.
Day, Morris and a small but committed team spent a few years building the business in California. “Back then, one of us would stay and paint what we had built that day while others went out sweeping or sleeping, or in my case, went night school,” says John Day, now a Regional Sales Manager. “Especially in those Fresno summers, we would come back early in the morning to beat the heat and test out what we had painted the night before. It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come from those early days.”
After a few years of manufacturing in Fresno, it became clear to everyone that this fast-growing company needed a new home. NiteHawk relocated to the Seattle, Washington area in 1997, and though they’ve since outgrown a few more facilities, they are still proud to be based in the beautiful, and much cooler, Pacific Northwest.
A National Reputation
NiteHawk has seen tremendous growth over the years, not only in sales and new employees, but through a maturing understanding of its role in the industry. “The mentality has shifted from a scrappy little company with new technology to being the market leader” says Josh Searl, working on his eleventh year as NiteHawk’s controller. “Our technology sets the standard.”
Sixteen year employee and current Customer Service Manager Jerry Porsch agrees that NiteHawk’s quality is second to none. “We recognize the value in sending out products free from defects-”
And customers could not be happier with those products:
“Maintenance and repair costs have dropped by 75% since we switched to NiteHawk trucks,” says Kenny Battiato, CEO of TSS Facility Services of New Jersey.
Indeed, across the country NiteHawk is known as a reliable, trustworthy organization. Customers see them not just as a supplier, but as a partner. “The team at NiteHawk is almost like having an extension of your company,” says Rodd Moore, VP of Michigan’s C&J Sweeping. “When you pick up the phone, no matter who you talk to in the company you feel their compassion about your needs.”
The Insiders’ Perspective
Happy customers are certainly good news, but what is it like to work at NiteHawk?
“I know it sounds corny, but the NiteHawk employees are the best I have ever worked with,” says John Day. “They not only care about the quality of our product, which is second to none, but they share a sense of accomplishment with our customers. We take pride in helping customers achieve success, and we feel grateful to be part of their lives.”
With 23 years under his belt, Day is certainly an authority on NiteHawk people and company culture: he’s filled so many different roles in the organization, he has difficulty naming them all. Ten year employee Dana Tate has also filled many roles at NiteHawk. She calls her time there an “adventure” that has included sales administration, logistics coordination, human resources, and office management, the last of which earned her the nickname “Office Mom.” Longtime employee Jerry Porsch has a similar story: from installation technician, to foreman, to production manager and beyond.
It is a common tale for NiteHawk employees to be given the chance to work in many different aspects of the company. This internal mobility enables employees to build a broad set of skills while finding their strengths and passions. But no matter where they end up, everyone agrees: the NiteHawk team is tough to beat.