Lifetime Ohio Valley resident Mike Strean says he can still remember visiting Isley's Ice Cream Store at 147 N. Fourth St. in Steubenville as a child.
He never expected to be operating another business at the same property at 60 years old but since taking the reins of Mike's Sweeper Center in September, Strean said it has been a positive experience.
The store's original owners approached the Weirton-based business consulting firm Valley Ventures Inc., to which Strean belongs, in 2013 and asked the company to take over.
Sandy Sutherland and Mike Strean stand on the sales floor of Mike’s Sweeper Center in Steubenville. Strean took over the store in September.
Strean said he recognized an opportunity to invest in a successful business while simultaneously rescuing the vacuum cleanerr sale and repair shop which served the area for over 54 years.
"Basically I just didn't want to see another business close," Strean said. "This just kind of fit my plan. Where else can you walk into a business with a good reputation and steady clientele?"
Community is key to the survival and prosperity of the sweeper center, Strean said.
"When people learned that the store was just changing hands they were elated," Strean said. "Other business owners have been great."
Shipping to customers as far away as New Jersey, Strean said he was amazed at how strong and steady business has been. He said the majority of business right now comes from service work which is not a problem thanks to a plentiful supply of extra machinery in the building.
"There has to be 1,000 sweepers in this building," Strean said. "I have a steady supply of spare parts."
What parts he lacks on sight Strean is usually able to find through connections in the Vacuum Dealer Trade Association, a community of similar businesses helping each other find old, rare or obsolete parts.
Other services offered at Mike's Sweeper Center include sale of new and refurbished sweepers, some dating back several generations, scrubber and extractor rentals and janitorial gear supply, among others.
The future holds ambitious plans for the rest of the 147 N. Fourth St. property, Strean said.
They include an internet cafe being set up next door and possibly renovations to the upstairs to make them suitable for apartments or office space.
Ultimately, however, Strean says he hopes to pass the business on to another local aspiring entrepreneur.
"Our goal is just to maintain for now and increase the commercial business, just keep offering a high level of service satisfaction and someday we'll hand it off to someone else," Strean said.
"In the meantime, we have a lot of fun here with the customers. We have always managed to have everybody leave here with a smile on their face.