Skip’s Wastewater Services

Skip’s Wastewater Services is the story of how one hard-working man, Andrew Coleman, with a vision in his mind and an entrepreneurial spirit in his heart, working in the family septic tank servicing business since High School and learning all the ins and outs of the wastewater industry, purchased his own company in 2006 at the relatively young age of 23, “Wastewater Services Inc.” He quickly built the company up to 10 employees and established contractual relationships with 4,000 customers. Ever motivated and determined, he expanded substantially in 2014 when he purchased Skip’s Septic Service. As Andrew tells the story “while my original company Wastewater Services focused primarily on septic system installations, Skip’s focused primarily on septic tank pumping, and that was what was immediately appealing about purchasing the company.” It created immediate possibilities for expansive diversification. With a large sum of money in his accounts, he purchased Skip’s Septic Service from his uncle, himself a very successful local entrepreneur, who had successfully built his company until he had a solid and loyal customer base of approximately 20,000 septic tank owners. Incorporating the two companies under one roof, Andrew named his new company Skip’s Wastewater Services. The company operates out of Ellington, CT.

Business and Office Management
Andrew has not only maintained the large customer base that was created after combining the two companies, but he has grown the new company substantially, to such an extent that now Skip’s Wastewater Services achieved over $5 million in sales last year, and has continually sustained between 5 and 10 percent growth annually. “From the very beginning,” Coleman tells us, “I wanted to exclusively focus on a single specialization, septic tank servicing.” And so it is that Skip’s Wastewater Services exclusively offers three services: septic tank pumping and repairing, septic tank installation, and septic tank inspection. As Andrew puts it: “The focus has been on septic tanks because we wanted to establish ourselves as bone fide experts in the field, learning everything there is to know about septic tanks and always staying one step ahead, informing ourselves about and implementing the latest wastewater technologies so we could offer the best septic tank services available to our customers.”
Skips’s Wastewater Services now has 30 employees working for the company. One of the first modifications implemented by Andrew was establishing a solid office and management structure. The office staff includes a full-time bookkeeper and a full-time accountant. The call center is always manned by three knowledgeable employees. A general manager oversees all of the work while a full-time head mechanic makes sure all of the pumper trucks and other equipment are functioning at their peak performance. The field work is overseen by a service manager, and in the field there are project managers supervising the individual day-to-day operations. “We wanted to make sure everything was running correctly and smoothly,” Coleman says, continuing “so that nothing would malfunction but, if it did, we could quickly uncover any mishaps and nip them in the bud before they could turn into serious problems.” “We have to always stay on top of things,” says Andrew “because we service about 40 septic tanks a day.” Coleman couldn’t express enough how much he relies on his honed team of employees. “I have been blessed with the best group of loyal, committed, and knowledgeable managers and workers a small business owner could have,” he emphasized, continuing “Skip’s Wastewater services wouldn’t be where it is today without my dedicated management staff and group of outstanding field workers.”

Automating the Office
“The second major change came last year, when we decided to update our system and invest in a computerized fleet management program, Fleetmatics, which functions from a cloud-based platform” Andrew informs us. Cloud-based computing is one of the newest forms of software management where all data is stored and accessed over the Internet rather than from a computer’s hard drive or central server. That means that the data theoretically exists anywhere you want it to be. The end result is that all you need is an on-line connection and a password and any employee can access all of the data, all of the time, from anywhere, without worrying if they are connected to a centralized server. “We supplied all of our field workers with Smartphones and now they are synchronized with all management and office staff” Coleman tells us, “and all of our vehicles are presently equipped with GPS tracking systems as well.”
“The Fleetmatics management system is great,” says Andrew, continuing “it has numerous functions that allow us to track the goings on of all of our trucks out in the field, and the drivers and technicians can be in direct and constant communication with the operations manager, all of the field managers, as well as the office staff, including the call center, with everyone receiving and giving work-related information and updates to each other in real time.” Coleman says that “we do all of our scheduling on the system so now our drivers and technicians can access their job-site servicing information such as all routes, locations, addresses and phone numbers of clients, all work order information, other dispatched information, and any updates from their iPhones.” Explaining further, Andrew states that “the office staff and managers just upload all of the information on a daily basis and so field workers and technicians have all of the information that they need at their fingertips. The office staff is immediately informed of when the work starts and when it is completed, how long it took to complete, and since all changes or updates are reported and communicated immediately, the time it would take to make phone calls all day back and forth from schedulers to workers and vice versa is substantially decreased.” “This saves us a lot of money over the year,” Andrew says with conviction.
“The program even lets us produce invoices that can be given to the clients, because all of the data and information about pricing and billing is stored in the system which is another great organizational tool and time-saving feature,” he tells us. “The Fleetmatics and GPS program also keeps track of all vehicle locations, speed, scheduled or unauthorized stops, fuel consumption, mileage, fuel fill-up data, driving patterns, including any unsafe vehicle operations” Andrew explains, adding “being able to supply that kind of information at the drop of a hat puts us in extra good graces with the Insurance company.”

Septic Tank Pumping
The septic tank pumping that Skip’s provides is proficient, professional and thorough. Here is a list of the services every customer receives when they employ the company to be their septic tank servicer.
• Digging to expose the covers of the tank
• Determining the size and type of septic tank and its distance below the ground surface
• Inspecting both the inlet and outlet baffles for deterioration
• Measuring the liquid level in the tank. The measurement is taken from the top of the liquid to the septic tank ceiling. This ensures that the leach field is properly absorbing the liquid from the tank
• Checking for cracks or holes to determine the structural integrity of the tank and piping system
• Pumping of all liquid and solids out of the septic tank and into our pump truck for disposal
• Running a small amount of water inside the home to ensure the piping to the tank is working properly
• Completing a septic pumping report, this includes all findings of the test results, and a map with measurements of the septic tank for future reference.

Tech Talk
Skip’s fleet of pumper trucks include seven Kenworth T800 trucks and one 2011 “Dragon Wagon” transporter trailer truck equipped with a CAT C-15 engine and an Eaton-Fuller 8LL transmission. The T800s have a 40,000 lb weight in rear and 20,000 lb weight in front, with 2 drive axles and 1 tag axle. Each of Skip’s Kenworth T800s is a different year. They are: 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Andrew ordered five of the T800s from Kenworth and two he bought used. Ordering trucks from Kenworth is always customized because their customers start off with, as they put it “a clean sheet of paper.” Within the wide range of options Kenworth offers, the purchaser provides all of the specs which are custom tailored according to their own needs and requirements. Five of Skip’s Kenworth pumper trucks have Cummins N14 370 hp engines and two have CAT C-15 475 hp engines. The T800s have 150 gallon fuel tanks. They also all have Eaton Fuller 8-speed manual transmissions. All of the tanks are steel and were manufactured by Andert, Inc. of Eastford, CT. The two rigs that Coleman bought were refitted to allow for Andert tanks to be installed. There is also a variety of tank sizes: 2 have a 4200 gallon capacity, 4 a 4500 gallon capacity and 1 a 5500 gallon capacity. All of Skip’s pumper trucks are equipped with heated valves, which come in handy for the workers during the winter months. Most of the trucks have Wittig RFL-100 pumps with a few equipped with Fruitland RCF 500 pumps. Andrew like the pumps he chose because “they really are perfect for the kind of work that we typically do, which is mostly residential and some commercial. For really deep pulls we use a flow increaser that is hooked up to compressed air to assist in the vacuum pull.”
Skip’s Wastewater Services offers power jetting services. “For all of our jetting work,” Andrew tells us, “we use a Guzzler jetter mounted on a GMC Top Kick with a 1 inch heavy-duty jetting hose that produces 3,000 psi and is connected to a 1500 gallon water tank. The Guzzler works great for the jetting work that we do.” The nozzle has no problem easily negotiating pipe bends and elbows. It is designed to improve fluid hydrodynamics and is made of corrosion free stainless steel which means it prevents thread deterioration, resulting in a much longer functioning time for the nozzle.

Septic Tank Inspections
Andrew tells us about the equipment used for the septic inspections that Skip’s does: “We perform all of our septic inspections using Rigid’s See Snake Mini’s. The fiber-optic waterproof cameras range up to 100 ft and are connected to 6 inch LCD color monitors which produce great live color images of anything that the camera sees. It’s also has a built-in 512 Hz sonde transmitter located behind the camera head, which transmits a signal back to a receiver so the operator can then locate any trouble spots inside the system and pinpoint exactly where they are.” The Rigid mini camera head is made out of 100% hardened stainless steel, which makes it super durable, corrosion free, and long lasting. The camera head itself is equipped with 6 LED lights that can illuminate the inspection area.
Septic tank inspection starts at the level of the septic tank, then the camera is sent down through the pipes leading to the leach field. The huge length is needed for a thorough inspection because, as Coleman puts it “…this allows us to see current liquid levels as well as previous water marks, which give a more complete picture of septic system function over time.” The septic tank inspection system is not just checking water levels. According to Andrew, “other septic components are also thoroughly inspected, including the plumbing leaving the foundation, the septic tank itself, the distribution box, and the leach fields.”

The Benefits of Fiber Optic Camera Inspections
“Fiber optic cameras allow us to identify important inner-workings of the system, such as current and previous liquid levels, condition of the pipes, and types of materials used in construction” Andrew informs us. Many companies are still doing it old-school, by conducting flow-tests to inspect septic systems. A flow-test consists of continuously running water through the system and into then into the leach field. If the water drains, the test passes, if it does not drain, it fails. According to Coleman, this kind of testing is invalid. As he explains “A flow test cannot tell you where the system is located, what it consists of, and most importantly, it cannot determine the current and past liquid levels. Should a system fail, a flow test is unable to determine the cause. Is there simply a broken pipe not allowing the liquid to flow through to the leach field? Is the distribution box broken and causing a backup? These are all questions that our comprehensive inspection will be able to answer right away;” he says, continuing “this allows us to inspect septic tanks and leaching systems that otherwise would be unobservable unless excavating was involved,” and everyone knows how expensive and time-consuming that is. Once they have inspected the septic system, they give a presentation to the customer about the system. The customer is then able to view the ins and outs of the septic system as well as ask questions about it on the spot. “All septic inspection reports are done electronically from our inspectors’ Smartphones and are emailed to the client within 24 hrs.” For more information on Skip’s Septic System Services, please visit their website at: www.skipswastewater.com

Story by Mark Joseph Manion

RESOURCES:
www.fleetmatics.com
www.kenworth.com
www.guzzler.com
www.rigid.com

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