At David Zuidema, Inc. it’s the Little Things that Help Yield Big Results

David Zuidema can boast being in business for 90 years. Well, David Zuidema, himself, can’t, but his business, David Zuidema, Inc. can. The fourth generation, family-owned and run business began in 1919 and is one of the most successful septic companies servicing New Jersey, New York and the five boroughs.

Zuidema, Inc. has been working with the same company for many of their vacuum truck and parts needs for the last decade. Imperial Industries, Inc., located in Rothschild, Wisconsin, knows the length good customer service and reliability can go. Zuidema does, too. Not a believer in swearing or using profane language, he was instantly impressed with Tom Aerts, Imperial’s General Sales Manager, and was especially impressed with his phone manner.

Many sales people will use colorful language to convey a point, but not Aerts, “I thought ‘This is someone I’d like to do business with,’” Zuidema said. He also likes that every time he calls Imperial, he gets to speak to Aerts, and labelled the company, as a whole, reliable and true to their word. If ever there is a problem, which Zuidema said is rare, they stand behind it and work to fix it as quickly as possible.

In addition to friendly customer service, Imperial has been extremely accommodating with the type of trucks Zuidema has wanted for his company. To date, Imperial has built approximately 15 trucks for Zuidema, and he also uses Imperial to buy a lot of his company’s supplies, “Valves, pumps—anything related to the truck,” he said.

Zuidema, Inc. services septic tanks, grease traps and portable restrooms. Despite sewer programs pushing people with septic to convert, Zuidema hasn’t seen a drop in his business, but he’s certainly seen it happen to others.

He said, “People just turn the lights out. Companies just lose them—there’s no transition,” and those companies are then forced either to downsize or increase their service area, which is why Zuidema has included New York City in his business’ service area. Doing so, however required him to obtain a license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Put in place after 9/11, Zuidema said, “It’s pretty extensive,” and it included background checks and fingerprinting for all employees.

“New York City is a whole different world,” he said, and Zuidema handles mostly grease pumping for a few major chains there. He said, however, that the company is only scratching the surface with pumping there, leaving room for growth at some point in the future, be it for himself or one of his sons if they choose to take over the business one day. “We are the closest pumper to New York City in New Jersey,” he added.

Sewer programs may force areas to dry up in terms of septic needs falling by the wayside, but Zuidema maintains that there is always business to be found. Stricter environmental laws have opened up a lot of business for Zuidema, Inc. Despite the fact that a town has switched over to a sewer program, Zuidema said about the environmental laws, “They’ve opened a whole field of work for us.” For instance, Zuidema will haul grease from restaurants and businesses before it reaches the sewer.

Zuidema, Inc.’s willingness to adapt to changes in the industry have kept them in business for the last 90 years. That, and personalizing their customers’ experience wherever they can on a continued basis to demonstrate they care.

Much like the little touches that made Zuidema decide to do business with Imperial Industries, it’s the little touches that make Zuidema’s customers continue to do business with them. They send out a card to customers letting them know when they’re due for a pumping, much like a dentist alerts their patients when they’re due for a cleaning. “We have a lot of repeat business,” he said about his roster of both residential and commercial customers. It’s clear that the little touches only help the already successful Zuidema, Inc. continue to thrive and grow in a sometimes tumultuous industry.

Story by Megan McClure

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