Putting People First

Most people don’t look forward to pumping grease traps, but the guys at All Cen Tex Septic and Vacuum Pumping can’t wait to get to the World Famous Round Rock Donuts where they are treated with the strange, but delicious yellow concoctions which were highlighted on Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food.”

Robert Negrete, owner of All Cen Tex Septic and Vacuum Pumping, ensures his guys are well taken of and not just by filling their tummies with yummy food. “I’ve hired helpers for Jason and Josef, our technicians who have been with us for more than 10 years. It comes out of my pocket, but the guys are more refreshed for the next day. If they get done quicker, they get home quicker. Or, sometimes, we can pick up another job or two.”

Negrete’s turnover rate is unusually low, which he likes. Jason Fuentes and Josef Negrete’s experience allows them to troubleshoot jobs and educate customers about their systems. “Customers like having consistency in service,” says Negrete. “They like it when they call us two or three years later and the same guys show up. Occasionally, when I go out they even say, ‘Hey, the last time I saw you, you had hair.’”

Negrete explains his business philosophy as being, “First in service, second to none. If someone has an issue, we call them back. If it is a warranty issue, then they get moved to the top of the list, not sent to the bottom or ignored. Previous customers definitely get priority because we value their repeat business. We work them in.”
He says that being first in service is something that has to be integrated throughout the company. “It starts with people answering the phones, Liza our office manager and our new social director Jennifer. We try to have our staff and the ladies who answer our after-hour phones be as informative as possible.”

All Cen Tex Septic and Vacuum Pumping also trains the guys to look for hazards like sprinkler systems or sprinkler boxes and tries to stay on top of any other hazards that might be lurking like cable lines, or fiber optic lines to keep everyone safe.

Putting his employees and customers first has helped Negrete earn the super service award from Angie’s List twice, most recently in 2013. “I’m especially proud of the award, because it is recognition from our customers. My goal was to start a quality company that customers could count on–a dependable, reliable and honest company that customers would feel good about referring their friends and family to.

PUTTING CUSTOMERS FIRST

Not only do the guys at All Cen Tex Septic and Vacuum Pumping hold themselves to high standards, but also referral companies. “If there is a situation that we can’t take care of, then I refer the customer to someone who is competent,” says Negrete. “When we refer a company, I want to make sure that I still have a customer when they are finished.”

Recently, the City of Austin began enforcing the three month rule, which requires establishments to get their grease trap serviced every three months. All Cen Tex Septic and Vacuum Pumping offers service plans for their customers, and discounted service for long-term service. “We do some high-end restaurants such as Hudson’s on the Bend as well as industrial waste. We just finished a job with The University of Texas because they needed to flush out their fire safety sprinklers.”

A new disposal place now accepts grease and septic together, which has saved considerable time for the guys at All Cen Tex Septic and Vacuum Pumping. “Instead of driving across town to dump out a septic job before we need to pump out a 20 gallon grease trap, we can cut out the extra stop in between jobs saving time and money,” says Negrete.

EQUIPMENT

Negrete had a guy stop him in Westlake, a very nice part of town, and say, “Man, I don’t know much about trucks, but that is a nice truck.” The man was referring to one of their 2007 Mack trucks that is decked out with the most up-to-date equipment. “Our guys are driving Cadillacs,” says Negrete. “They are beautiful aluminum Presvac tanks. We get some of our best advertising when people see our trucks in traffic on 183.”

The trucks are equipped with Tom-Tom GPS, backup cameras, dash-mount cameras, Fruitland pumps and Kandi Flex vacuum hoses. Negrete liked the reputation that Mack trucks have and how durable they are. “That reputation lead me to them in 1995 and we’ve been with them ever since.”

TROUBLESHOOTING

“When we are called to a job that has septic system problems, most people say they have drain field problems,” says Negrete. “We like to start at the structure and work our way from point A (the structure) to point B (the drainfield). We start by looking in the sewer line clean-out. If the clean-out is not holding water and still the facilities won’t work, it is probably a stoppage issue under the structure. At this point, we will recommend a reputable plumbing company we have a long-term relationship with, and know they will do a good, clean job which helps us retain that client.

“If the clean out is holding water, but the septic tank is at the normal operating level, the problem probably is a stoppage, which is usually some type of debris such as a toy, or roots due to a cracked pipe or line, or the tank being overfull and not allowing waste to make it to the tank. Roots can cause problems by getting in through a crack in the pipe, a coupling joint not properly connected or pipe which has dislodged from the tank.

“If the tank is overfull, we look for an outlet filter that will cause the tank to overfill which can cause back-up issues in the structure. If the filter is clean or there isn’t one, then we will check and see if there are multiple drainfields. Sometimes a drainfield not being switched can cause overfilling of a tank and overloading of that drainfield. A bad switching valve can also cause all of these problems.

“If all of these check out okay, we want to excavate the delivery line to the drain field to see if it is collapsed or impacted with roots and for sludge. A pipe not installed at the proper grade will also cause these problems. If all of these check out okay, we will load test the drainfield with water to see if it is taking water as designed. We also look for roots and sludge at this point.

“If there are sludge and roots in the drainfield, there are a couple of options such as a chemical approach. These methods take time and can only put a temporary band-aid on the problem. We will analyze the type of system, age of system, the property layout and frequency of issues to suggest the most effective approach. There comes a time when the drainfield needs to be replaced. At this point, most regulators will make you update the system to current standards. We always suggest that if city sewer is available, hook up to it because they will be addressing their septic system again either with maintenance or repairs.”

No matter what the cost, Negrete and his team put their customers first even if it means suggesting an option which doesn’t include them which is why their customers continue to praise them.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

RESOURCES
All Cen Tex Septic and Vacuum Pumping:
www.allcentex.com
Mack: www.macktrucks.com
Fruitland pumps: www.fruitland-mfg.com
Presvac: www.presvacsales.com

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