set the bar high for ourselves. So, sleepless nights come with the job. Of course, there are a few people who’ve tried to underbid me, but I have such good relationships with my clients and offer quality work that they’re not even entertaining the idea of taking a chance on them. And I’m all about building and maintaining those relationships, because if you look out for them, they’ll definitely look out for you. Now I take pride in what we do. Of course, I have to hear my dad say every so often, ‘Whoever gave you the idea to start this company was a genius.’”
Swept Away: Boykin planned to attend graduate school at the University of New Orleans in the fall of 2005. But then Hurricane Katrina hit and left the Houma, Louisiana, native with no possessions, no money, and no motivation. Hoping to help, Boykin’s father introduced him to parking lot cleaning. But he wasn’t interested.
Price Check: A month went by before Boykin finally met with the store manager of his local Wal-Mart (at the urging of his father) to inquire about their current service. Boykin walked away with the contract and a charge to do a better job. And within two months, Boykin solidified his business and, with his father’s help, purchased his first industrial sweeper truck for $70,000. Now he has three.
The Night Shift: From 9 p.m. to often as late as 6 a.m., seven days a week, Boykin makes sure his employees “take care of every inch of the lots. Some of my contracts don’t specify it, but we do it anyway.”
Open Late Nights: “I haven’t spent a dime on advertising. My company grew from word of mouth, store managers telling other store managers [about us] or someone just passing by one of my parking lots who can’t believe that it’s that clean, calling the store to find out who their sweeper service is.”
Cleaning Up: Besides being responsible for 15 Wal-Mart stores, JB Sweeping has lucrative contracts with several other retailers including: Lowe’s, Target, and Sam’s Club.
Sirena C. Moore, Age 27
Elohim Cleaning Contractors / Bristol, PA
Type of business: Industrial and commercial construction site cleaning
Year Launched: 2002
2008 Revenues: $2 million
Game changer: Operating debt-free
In the early days we had no money. Our office was my brother’s old bedroom. We used my father’s old pickup truck—we called it the ‘Sanford and Son’ truck.
We bought a $200 computer. The desk was an old fellowship hall table with a hutch from another desk on top of it. Everything was makeshift. But we made do.
We opened up our bank account with $200 and we each had to bring $50 to each meeting to contribute. We paid the first person that we hired with my father’s unemployment check. What we had to do the first three years of business was introduce each of us—myself, my dad, and my brother—to the payroll one at a time. I worked during the day to make ends meet and my brother also kept a job. I