Portable hot-water jetter opens up additional opportunities for Colorado contractor.
When Greg Schulte started Family Man Plumbing LLC in early 2012, he envisioned becoming more than just a GWAV: Guy With a Van. And he's well on his way there, thanks to a small machine – the Crap Shooter – that opened up a lucrative new market and dramatically boosted his business volume.
Schulte says the Crap Shooter, a portable hot-water drain-cleaning machine made by Bull Frog Industries LLC, drastically altered the course of his business in Westminster, Colo., a suburb of Denver. When he first started out, he focused primarily on plumbing repairs. But with the Crap Shooter, drain cleaning now generates about 40 percent of his gross revenue.
"I wanted to get into drain cleaning and maintenance," he explains. "So I went out and discussed it with companies that manage rental properties and with homeowner associations. I told them that if they'd use me for drain cleaning, I'd buy the equipment and do the work in a timely manner."
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Around the same time, Schulte met a Bull Frog representative. Soon afterward, he gave the Crap Shooter a trial run, then purchased one for under $1,000.
Schulte likes the 25-pound machine because it's compact and easy to set up, which enables him to complete jobs faster. And less time on jobs translates into lower prices for customers and better productivity, he says.
"The Crap Shooter is completely self-contained," he notes. "All I do is hook it up to a faucet and plug it into an electrical outlet. I don't need to pull a hose through a building ... I can walk in and have it set up in 10 or 15 minutes.
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"It's funny because every single time I bring in the Crap Shooter, customers ask me where my equipment is," he says. "They're impressed by the fact that I can jet lines without dragging dirty hoses through a building."
The unit draws 11 amps, so it can operates on a standard 15-amp circuit. It generates 1,500 psi at 1.65 gpm and comes with a 25-foot power cord with a two-prong GFCI plug; 50 feet of high-pressure hose that can handle up to 120-degree water; two heavy-duty jetter nozzles – a flusher and a thruster – that can clean pipelines up to 3 inches in diameter; and two faucet adapters.
"Hot water makes a difference when you're trying to cut through oil and grease," he says.
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Schulte also notes that the Crap Shooter is eco-friendly because it uses only water to clean pipes out to about 70 to 90 percent of their original flow rate. And because there are no moving parts, there's no pipe wear erosion.
"It's plenty powerful," he says. "You don't need too much power to cut through sludge and debris, because it typically stays wet. I used it at a friend's house because he was having a problem with a wash-machine drain line. Other guys ran rotors 75 feet through, but the problems continued. The Crap Shooter took care of it the first time through and no other problems have occurred since then, and that was six months ago. That impressed me."
Schulte says he uses the Crap Shooter for about 90 percent of his drain-cleaning work. He also uses a RIDGID K-400 drum cable machine to handle tough root problems, and a RIDGID K-25 handheld machine.
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"The Crap Shooter quickly paid for itself," Schulte points out. "So everything I do with it is 100 percent profit, aside from my overhead. I can't believe I increased my revenue that much with such a small purchase."
A master plumber, Schulte says he's thinking about hiring an employee because he now has more business than he can handle by himself, partly because of the Crap Shooter and partly because of word-of-mouth referrals.
"I really can't say enough good things about the Crap Shooter," he says. "Without it, I'd still be struggling – just a guy with a van."
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