The Best Floor Machine We’ll Ever Use?

October 31, 2023


Every commercial cleaning contractor can get set in their ways.

Some contractors only want to use one type of floor finish and they will swear up and down that their favorite finish is the only floor finish that could ever possibly give tile floors that shiny, glossy look.

Some swear by a certain toilet bowl cleaner or by a brand of window squeegee.

We all have our favorites.

I love all our floor machines but my current, all time favorite is the Hawk 20” Glide made by Hawk Enterprises located in Elkhart Indiana.  We’ve had the machine for about 3 or 4 years (Forgive my lack of memory.  I’m a cleaner!  My life is a blur. I don’t remember dates or years.  If someone asks me what I had for breakfast, I have to look at my shirt). 

We purchased the Hawk from a homegrown janitorial supplier – American Janitor in Scranton, PA.  American has since merged with another supplier.  Our salesman was Bill Lavelle, one of the most knowledgeable guys we’ve run into in the commercial cleaning industry especially when it comes to equipment.  When Bill recommended the Hawk and told us what it could do, we knew we had to buy it.

A quick internet search shows that current pricing for a similar Hawk model is a little North of $1,500.  We paid about $900 because we purchased a slightly used demonstration model with no visible wear or tear on it.  It turned out to be a great deal.  Even if we had paid the full freight, it would have been more than worth it.  Because the machine strips floors so quickly, the labor savings are huge.  Our Hawk Glide paid for itself within a few weeks.

We picked up the Hawk on a Friday just in time for a VCT strip and refinish scheduled for Saturday morning in a beautiful place known as Mountaintop, Pennsylvania.

Mountaintop is an idyllic place. Settled in the 1800’s, the lumber and coal barons from Northeast Pennsylvania built summer homes and hunting lodges there.  Its cooler summer temperatures made it an ideal place to escape the oppressive humidity of the Wyoming Valley.

High at the top of Penobscot Mountain, Mountaintop, PA, is also known for its winters.  It can be raining down in the Wyoming Valley but snowing hard in Mountaintop.  That means salt gets dumped everywhere.  That salt gets tracked into buildings where it destroys VCT.

Our Saturday morning floor, seen above, was a cafeteria floor that had barely survived the winter.  The VCT was on life support.  We figured that this would be a great test for the new Hawk Glide.

A word here about the transporting the machine.  We transport our equipment in Chevy Vans.  We use ramps to load and unload heavier pieces of equipment.  Unless you are some freakishly strong power lifter, you will need a sturdy ramp to get the Hawk Glide into the vehicle.  It is heavy which is part of the reason why it is so effective at stripping floors but the weight of the machine makes working safely a top priority during transport.  If you use ramps like we do, never put your body between the machine and the bottom of the ramp.  If you’re loading, drag it backwards up the ramp.  If you’re unloading, stay above the machine while you roll it down.  Safety wise, loading/unloading the machine is, in our humble opinion, the primary window where the operator has got to be especially careful and conscious.  Otherwise, the Hawk glide is a piece of cake to handle and operate.

So long as we’re talking about safety, the Hawk Glide may be heavy but it’s not a side to side swing machine.  It goes straight back and forth as it works its magic on floors.  As anyone who’s spent time working with side to side machines can attest, they can be “tricky.” 

And that’s being nice.

Without proper and thorough training, a side to side machine becomes a lethal weapon.   The Hawk 20” Glide is an easy train.  Don’t get me wrong.  A careless person will always figure out a way to get hurt on any job site but the Hawk is a thousand times easier to use than a side to side.  Training is a snap.  And since it is designed for chemical free stripping, you’re not working in that crazy slippery toxic slurry created by chemical floor stripper.  The Hawk Glide gets a Combat Cleanerz  A+ in the Safety Category.

After moving around the cafeteria tables and chairs, we put the machine in place, plugged in the 50’ cord, adjusted the pitch of the handle, wet the floor with water and started running the Hawk back and forth.  We were a little speechless at first.  In one pass, the Hawk was erasing all signs of winter from the VCT. In two passes, the floor started to look new.  

To experienced floor guys, this was like manna from Heaven.  A machine that will, without chemicals, quickly rip the corroded finish from the floor?  Being the enterprising capitalists that we were and are, we began doing the calculations.  We were going to cut the labor at least in half on this job and every other job we would do going forward.  We did bring an auto-scrubber as a pick up machine but the Hawk Glide did the heavy lifting.

At the end of the day, the Hawk Glide 20 DX produces superior results, saves time and money and is easy to operate.

And while we have several great auto scrubbers, the Hawk Glide is the best floor machine we’ve used.