Nancy Terry of NAPSA

NAPSA street sweeper brush logo

North American Power Sweeping Association

Sweepers and Tankers podcast host Matt Starnes speaks with Nancy Terry, Association Director of North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA) and Executive Director of NAPSA News.

Nancy shares what NAPSA does, hint, they are huge on education!

  • NAPSA Certification
  • NAPSA’s Power Sweeping Standard
  • Certified Sweeping Operator Training
  • Consumer Resources

Nancy shares not only these but even more valuable resources for the street sweeper community. Listen to the podcast episode and read the full transcript!

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Read the full transcript of the podcast

Announcer: Welcome to the Sweepers and Tankers Podcast sponsored by Johnston Sweepers, a BUCHER company providing Endless Sweeping Solutions and by Bucher Municipal North America, Powered by Innovation and specializing in the development and manufacture of world-class recycling sewer cleaners for over 30 years. This podcast covers topics on the street sweeper and sewer cleaning equipment market. Now let’s welcome our host Matt Starnes.

Matt Starnes: Alright, Nancy Terry! Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. Nancy Terry: You’re certainly welcome. Matt Starnes: I want to kind of get into exactly what the North American Power Sweeping Association or NAPSA is. If you could just kind of start off and tell us just from a general or sense what the association does. I’m familiar with it, but I have some folks might not be sure.

Nancy Terry: Nancy Terry: Sure! NAPSA, the North American Power Sweeping Association is actually a community of folks whose primary interest is in the power sweeping industry, so we have a membership that is comprised of contract sweepers, service providers, equipment dealers, manufacturers and suppliers to the power sweeping industry. We’ve actually been in existence since 1979 but it really wasn’t formed as a self-supporting association until October of 2000 and it’s a really great group who’s like I said, they’re interested in sweeping and sweeping concerns. Matt Starnes: Excellent, excellent. You mentioned, you guys really do have a rich history and then going all the way back to 1979.

Matt Starnes:  I was just a kid. Probably didn’t know what a street sweeper was at the time. How did it start and what are kind of those journeys from back from 1979 to up until the 2000s, I guess? Yeah, 2019 it’s almost 2020 now.

Nancy Terry:  You know, power sweeping has been around for many, many, many years. It wasn’t until the late seventies that folks started seeing a need for additional education and, you know, group buying as well as other opportunities where you can network with folks who are like-minded, with you know, those interests in education. So originally the group was started. They found that they really needed more in the way of support in order to continue to grow. In 1985, they joined collectively with the National Solid Waste Management Association. They were with that group working on education and other areas until 1995 and then in 1995 they spun off to the American Public Works Association and was called the Contract Sweepers Institute.

Nancy Terry:  They assisted folks, of course, their basic needs and goals and advancement of, of the contract sweeping industry. And they were part of that group until they actually grew to the point of needing to be more self-sufficient. And then they were chartered in October of 2000.

Matt Starnes: Going from 2000 til now. How have you guys grown and what have you, what have you seen in that time period? I know that’s another almost 20 years of history.

Nancy Terry: It really is the groups they started outgrowing the membership through various benefits and education. And of course, we work with the National Pavement Expo to bring an education track to the sweeping industry. We’ve seen the industry grow and you know, this kind of a growing pain situation where you see frivolous lawsuits coming on. I mean it’s a great industry, but it’s like any other industry. It has some issues. And as a trade association, we want to do for that industry what they cannot do for themselves. So, you know, we have to take a look at not only the benefits that we’re currently providing but those things that will help the group to continue to grow into the future.

North American Power Sweeping Association logo web screen shot

Matt Starnes:  You mentioned there are benefits too, which kind of goes into my next question. What are the benefits of people? I know Johnston Sweepers, we’re a member. What are the benefits for people who take upon membership? I think they’re great, but I definitely want you to toot your own horn here.

Nancy Terry: Sure. Well, you know, we actually have, I’m going to quantify this into three different areas. We’ve got lots of benefits, which include your typical discounts on, Office Depot or you know, whatever. Then we’ve, we’ve got credit card processing discounts. But really there are three primary areas that folks join and find benefit from. And that is lead generation, education, and liabilities or government affairs. Through lead generation, what I mean by that is we have a great website at and we have a contractor locator that we focus on sending customers for our members too.

Nancy Terry:  So we, you know, we capture those and send them to the website and then they can find what they’re looking for through that website. And we get thousands of visits every year to that website. You know, we spend a lot of money making sure that it’s mobile response friendly and that it’s up to where it needs to be in order to generate those leads. So that’s a really great resource. Education as I alluded to earlier, we work with National Pavement Expo to bring a track of education that is specific to the power sweeping industry. So we usually have a keynote speaker. We have our best practices session, which is where we have tables with specific topics that you go in and you have a discussion and you learn from each other as well as you know, the resources that we bring. And then, of course, NAPSA members get discounts for participating because we believe that education is the backbone of industry growth.

Nancy Terry: And then we also have our liability and our government affairs area, which would focus on the frivolous lawsuits that our folks are seeing right now. And the reason why we started developing our power sweeping standard or certified sweeping operator program, which we have for construction and parking lot at the moment and we’ll be working on for municipality in the future. And then also we’re bringing online a training for that power sweeping standard that we recently developed. And that should be coming online probably in July of this year. But at the end of the day the primary benefit that anybody would want to join it, I’m gonna, I’m just gonna lay it out there. It is networking. When I say this is a community, I am not kidding. There are folks I can, I can send out an email and they will pick up a phone and call each other and look for resources and make recommendations.

Nancy Terry:  They travel to their facilities and they just really learn from each other. And they are truly a community of folks interested in this industry.

Matt Starnes:  Yeah, I totally agree. We, Johnston Sweepers, we have a dealer network that is just fantastic, in that same way. So I can only imagine that’s just amplified so much more across the states with your association so that you really can’t beat when people are active in what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. They’ll pick up the phone, they’ll go do research and help out where you can. I mean that’s just, that’s really kind of one of those priceless, priceless benefits that you guys have. For sure. Nancy Terry: Thank you. Matt Starnes: If you could go into because I was at the National Pavement Expo 2019 in Nashville, we spoke a little bit and you were, you actually had your laptop open and I was like, what are you doing?

Matt Starnes:  And then you started telling me a little bit about the power sweeping standard, but could you give us kind of a tease on what you’re working on as far as what you’re allowed to tell us?

Nancy Terry:  Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, like any other industry, we have our issues and one of the biggest issues that have been plaguing us are frivolous lawsuits. There’s, there are more than 4,000 companies in this industry nationwide and we employ more than 200,000 people collectively and these folks are operating 12 months out of the year, pretty much. We continue to be burdened with risk transfer issues in the insurance industry from where folks are filing frivolous lawsuits and it’s being passed along to the sweepers. We tried to figure out how to best address this issue because insurance rates were literally skyrocketing.

NAPSA branded street sweeper

Nancy Terry:  And of course the answer to everything is always education…documentation. You know, in order to be able to create a defendable solution, NAPSA started working with the Accredited Snow Contractor’s Association as our mentor to develop a power sweeping standard. And in 2017 we became certified as an American National Standards Institute writer in order to start the development of this standard. So what the standard does is it creates a baseline. It creates a defensible baseline that the industry can say this is what we’re supposed to do and how we are supposed to do it. So when these lawsuits are coming online it helps to give them something to work from. The education piece of that. We’ve actually been working for a couple of years for our certified sweeper operator program and we now have a construction as well as parking lot online. And that is a program that has well construction, has 69 modules and parking 51 modules.

Nancy Terry:   So it’s really encompassing and very, very reasonable for folks to be able to take these courses. And the reason is that we want to develop that baseline of education and it can be everything from paperwork to sweeper operation to environmental issues. There’s just a ton of information creating that baseline. And then from there, you can, you know, develop further education. But what that enables us to do is to say we have professional education for our industry. And so if you’re in a situation where you have a slip and fall issue or whatever, you can say, yes, I’ve been professionally trained and it helps to create that defensibility. So we’re taking that one step further and we are creating education for that power sweeping standards specifically, which is intended for the company. So A, we have the operator training B, we have the company training and that will come online probably in June or July and it’ll be part of kind of a three-legged stool for, you know, to create the greatest level of protection.

Nancy Terry:   So there’s going to be the power sweeping standard, which folks will read and agree to adhere to there will, the education piece, which will be online that they will take. And then there’s also the application and the application kind of goes through those things that make sure that you’re at the peak of professionalism and making sure that you’re doing things that will help you to be able to defend yourself. For example, keeping three years of logs to show that you not only keep them, that you’re maintaining your vehicle or finance sheets for your safety meetings, you know, if you need to produce those, this application shows that you’re doing these, it helps to develop those processes and procedures which will give you the greatest benefit. We’ve been talking to insurance companies and they all agree that the process that we’re developing and what we’re training folks to is one that will help to improve the situation that the industry has gotten into as far as the frivolous lawsuits.

North American Power Sweeping Association logo and header

Matt Starnes: To go along with those frivolous lawsuits what people don’t realize is that most of these also these sweeper operators and companies, these are small businesses. So one frivolous lawsuit can really, especially when they’re categorized as frivolous and not really warrant based on anything to somebody who’s looking for some easy money if you will. But it’s just, I mean, as a small business owner, it just, it can, if they can totally derail and possibly put you out of business if, you know, depending on the severity of it. And it’s, I mean this is people’s food on the table for their families. I mean it’s, I think that’s really, really wonderful that you’re developing the standard and the educational piece. I think you guys just all over the place educational wise are just fantastic. And then it all starts with a plan, right? So you’re getting that, you’re helping people develop those processes that are so important and having the documentation. So if something does come up there in a such a much better place to come out of a frivolous lawsuit or something of that like, so that’s pretty powerful.

Nancy Terry:  It is. And you know, on average it costs contractors insurance companies between $20,000 and $30,000 to set up, hire defense counsel and begin that process of discovery. And 40% of these non-related claims are dismissed. However, when you get served with that, it doesn’t really matter. It goes on your insurance record and your insurance will increase as a result. So premiums have increased in the past five years by about 35%, whether, you know no matter what’s happened, you’re still feeding that issue. That’s another reason why we have started working with in support of Senate Bill 237 which is the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. We will continue to, to work with folks to try to pass that because what has happened with that is that back in the, in the 90’s and this is just very superficial, but basically you used to be able to file a lawsuit and then you had to follow through on it but back in the 90’s they create a safe harbor, a 21-day period where you could pull back those lawsuits.

Nancy Terry:  So what’s happening is that someone goes out and they decide that they’ve been damaged and they file this lawsuit. Then the insurance company says, well, it’s cheaper to settle for the $5,000 deductible than it is for us to take this to court. We’ll give you the $5,000 they pull back that lawsuit within that 21-day period. And then the only person that gets hurt is the insured. Matt Starnes: Oh, my gosh. Nancy Terry: And that’s basically what we’re trying to create a defense for. You know, we’ve got the education and the standard. And then the second part of what we’re working on is to support the Senate bill 237 so that when it’s passed, they really have to stick to their guns. If they’re going to sue you they better have a reason.

Matt Starnes:  Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I didn’t even know about this. So they’re just, they’re hoping that you said in some cases they’re hoping you settle, so you get $5,000, but then you know, the defendant, the defendant still gets it with insurance increase or a possibility of being dropped. I know that happens a lot of times too, depending on, you know, how far things go. Wow. I didn’t know about that Senate bill, that’s interesting. So looking into 2019. What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Nancy Terry:  Well, we’re going to continue to work on those initiatives that we’ve started. We’re going to continue to refine our CSO construction and parking lot programs. We’re going to bring online our education for the power sweeping standard. And probably by the end of the year, we’re going to start working on CSO for municipalities. We will continue to, we have a legislative day that we’re working with the AFCA Contractors, the Snow Contractors Association, so that’s usually in September. We invite and encourage folks to learn about the Senate bill 237, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act and to participate in that process to educate your government leaders so that we can all affect a positive change for not only justice in this industry but folks in general, because this is, this is broader than just power sweeping.

National Pavement Expo 2020
NPE 2020 Returns to Nashville!

Matt Starnes:  That sounds like a great plan for the rest of the year. I did want to touch upon real quick just because I saw so much value in it and it was also fun, but of course the National Pavement Expo in 2019 they moved to Nashville and you did just a fantastic job and I hope you’re going to do it next year, too. The Sweepers Night Out, that was my first time being involved with that. You know it was at The George Jones Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, it’s all the music, it’s the history. And of course George Jones was such a colorful character and the museum was just a great setting for the Sweepers Night Out. And you had the scavenger hunt built in there. But if you could give people an idea of what it is. It was just so amazing the networking for that too. If you’re in the sweeper industry, I think you’ve got to attend this thing.

Nancy Terry:  Oh my gosh, you’re so right. Actually, the first Sweepers Night Out occurred in 2011 and NPE will move to various locations now. It was back in Nashville this past year, well in February and then it’ll be there again in 2020 but we try to move the venue for Sweepers Night Out and we really have to because we continue to grow. The first year that we did it in 2011 there were about a hundred people that were anticipated. This past February we sold 375 tickets to this event. It is clearly the see and be seen place. If you’re at NPE, it’s so much fun and we have amazing sponsors that help to create this activity and Johnston, of course, was right there in the list of amazing sponsors.

Nancy Terry:  So folks have such a wonderful time and it is a great networking event and we give away door prizes and we give away free food and drink. It’s really grown. We think it’s going to continue and we love and appreciate everybody that participates in that.

Matt Starnes: Oh, it was so much fun. We’ll definitely be involved in that next year as well. And, I think what is really fun too. I don’t know if it’s just the Nashville vibe of Nashville, Tennessee in general, but I did find that the show this year, and then especially at the Sweepers Night Out, of course, it’s a very, small industry when you think about it as far as a lot of people know different people. But I was a little newer to the industry, but I got to actually speak to a bunch of our competitors as well. And it wasn’t oh, I’m not going to share information with you and that type of thing. I mean, I know different people came up to me, but I don’t know if it’s just that city that sparks that or not. But it was such a great, great time and you know, swapping the sweeper stories and you know, different, things about sweepers. I mean, it was just something really special I thought. And that’s not always the case in different industries. Sometimes it’s very competitive and people are closed off. But I did not find that… found the exact opposite to be true this year.

Nancy Terry:  So, oh, that’s exactly what I mean when I say that we are a community. Honestly, a lot of folks call it our family reunion with this industry, and NAPSA and those folks who join NAPSA, it is like a big family you put into it whatever you put into it and you’ll get it back threefold.

Nancy Terry:  There’s an amazing, amazing group of people and I’ve been blessed to be with them since 2011 and I just hope that I’ll be able to continue to do that because they have literally, they have all become family to me.

Matt Starnes:  Well Nancy, thank you so much. I know, I definitely would like to have you back on the show in the future. Because I know you’re constantly growing things and very active as well in the community and they’ll be news to share and those types of things. So hopefully you’ll come back and join us. If people wanted to learn more about NAPSA where should they go?

Nancy Terry:  Well, we have, of course, our website at and then we do have a Facebook page as well, and we’re bringing more social media online. And then you can always call me at (888) 757-0130 and I’ll be happy to cover anything and everything.

Matt Starnes: Thanks so much, Nancy. I really appreciate your time and we look forward to talking to you in the future.

Nancy Terry:  Thank you so much. It’s been great.

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