In the Trenches

Florida sewer and drain company draws on years of experience to deliver quality results on every job.
In the Trenches
The Plumber’s Plumber crew includes (from left) technician Jason Pegg, President Rick Hedge, technician Leroy Campbell, technician Jose Nieto and Vice President Dick Hedge.

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When Rick Hedge graduated from Florida State University in 1998, his gift was a trailer jetter. There was no question as to where he would put his skills and education to work.
Hedge’s father, Dick, purchased a small drain cleaning company in Fort Myers, Florida, in 1982. The company was named Trenchless Solutions.

“As we grew throughout south Florida and began incorporating the newer technology into our services, we wanted to provide our growing expertise to other plumbing companies as well as to the residential market and small commercial such as mobile home parks, apartment buildings and restaurants in our area,” says the younger Hedge, who has been president of the company since 2008.

Trenchless Solutions became The Plumber’s Plumber, and the refocused company was at the forefront of pipe bursting in 1998. The company was one of the first customers trained at the TRIC Tools facility in Alameda, California. In 2004, the company moved into relining.

With their years of experience, The Plumber’s Plumber is perfectly suited to fill a trenchless rehabilitation niche within the plumbing industry, assisting companies that want to fully serve their customer base without having the responsibility at their own door.

At least 40 percent of the incoming calls come from referrals sent their way by other plumbing firms who simply ask that they take care of the customer. They do not typically subcontract, and the company has established a good relationship with other plumbers by assuring them they are not out to steal business or step on any toes. They are careful not to solicit any further business after referral jobs, and their aboveboard process has served them very well.

Strong reputation

Hedge is adamant about their work ethic and their reputation. As he explains to his employees, they are not trying to be aggressive with marketing because they want to be able to fulfill the needs of existing customers and maintain a workload that keeps them busy but still allows them to provide quality service. They are not the cheapest guys in town, but they stand behind every job they do and hold themselves to exceptional standards.

“Can I go out and get more work by pushing? Yes,” he says. “But we have to be able to back it up properly.

“I’ve seen companies get into trouble if they think that with $250,000 worth of new equipment they will go out and be successful. We’ve had the experience that builds integrity. We got our gray hair by learning the business and taking our share of problems along the way. It’s not an easy business. We’ve had our parcel of issues and we’ve worked through them and fixed them, never leaving a customer in the lurch. If we ever broke something, we fixed it, and we have learned over the years.”

The Plumber’s Plumber charges more for its relining services than much of the competition, but their customers are willing to pay the difference because of the reputation the company has built.

If a potential customer is looking for a bargain price, they are informed that the job is priced to provide quality. They are also assured that if there is a problem down the line, Plumber’s Plumber will come back and fix the issue.

Hedge, who in addition to two degrees from Florida State University and a Florida State Certified Plumbing License, is a State Certified General Contractor and a Florida State Certified Home Inspector.

The company occasionally takes on municipal work, and Hedge was recently asked to serve as a manager/superintendent for another firm doing a major relining job because of his reputation and experience.

Jobs and solutions

“When I go out to a job, I have a toolbox of all those technologies at my disposal, so I don’t go in and say, ‘We will reline this,’” he says. “It is not always in the best interest of the customer. I always ask, ‘what is the best interest of this customer? What do we want to accomplish and what is the problem?’ Often we will go out where the referring plumber will tell us what the customer needs, but we go out and find he doesn’t need to spend that much money on the job. Would a complete job be good? Yes. Would a simpler solution help solve an immediate problem? Sometimes it will. We want to treat the customer as we would a family member or a good friend.”

Hedge says in some situations he recommends pipe bursting over relining with small-diameter pipes because it doesn’t restrict the inside diameter, which in his opinion can reduce functionality.

The solution in each case, however, is what will best suit the customer, as well as consideration of the layout and conditions they find.

Sixty percent of the company’s business comes from trenchless work, and the balance in jetting, drain cleaning and some basic plumbing. Plumbing calls run the gamut from changing a faucet to installing a water heater and even re-piping a house if necessary. But their target is trenchless. Taking these other calls has helped keep the lights on, but what they really want are the dirty, tough jobs.

Much of their work is handled from inside the building. Sometimes they will cut a small hole in the floor of a bathroom in a home to access the line, or they can go through the toilet.

“When we first started relining I thought the customer would be opposed to opening a small hole in the house to access the line, as we don’t have basements in homes here,” he says. “As I got older and more experienced, we found we could maximize the job by accessing with a small hole cut in the floor of the home. If we had 100 feet of pipe we are rehabbing, I can use a 1-foot square in the middle of that 100 feet of pipe we are relining and make the job 100 percent perfect.

“Before I do a job, I explain to the customer that this makes sense and makes the job less risky for me and better quality for the customer. This came from experience. We have been doing this for a long time now.”

The right tools

The company operates with a fleet of Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota trucks. When a job calls for excavation, the company relies on a Komatsu PC 27.

Plumber’s Plumber now relies on LMK Technologies and Perma-Liner systems, and Source One Environmental’s PipePatch for smaller CIPP repairs.

The company uses cameras from RIDGID, and they have a PipeHunter Jet Eye trailer jetter, 4,000 psi/18-25 gpm.


Hedge is a hands-on guy who is right there in the trenches with his technicians, and he demands perfection. Technicians are trained to set up jobs, but before the work begins, Hedge comes in and makes sure everything is perfect.

Hedge says every time they start a job, he recalls the cleanliness and neatness of training demonstrations, but it’s never quite that perfect out in the field. He does, however, strive to maintain those standards in every job.

“We have learned the hard way that inaccurately measuring anything on a relining job is not a good thing,” he says. “We triple check each other. If I triple check someone, they should not be offended. We have a checklist and report sheets. When you mess up on one of these jobs it is 99 percent human error.

“The variables in the job include measuring the types of epoxy you are using, the size of the pipe you are dealing with — the elbows, the Y connections coming into the pipe, the ground conditions, the weather — all must be addressed in order to have success.

With a small but manageable crew, Hedge says they will do one relining or pipe bursting job at a time, because they want it to be right.

“Don’t get behind and do not rush anything.”

The team

Like many of his counterparts, Hedge says finding qualified technicians who meet all his criteria is a challenge.

“In order to find a qualified technician you have to pay them very well, and in order to do that you have to charge the customer accordingly, have the equipment, and make some money for the company. You have to have it all in place before you can grow.”

When hiring technicians, Hedge says he wants someone who is mechanically inclined, knows how to pay attention, use his hands and knows how to use a wrench — someone with a positive attitude who isn’t afraid to get dirty. He says it’s important that he be able to trust his technicians, because they are given a lot of responsibility.

“I want to treat them as I want to be treated, and I trust them,” he says. “In some cases I may overly trust, but this is a relationship. We are partners. When we are doing a job I get into the hole with them, just like my dad did. We are building something important. Sometimes things don’t go as you would want them to go, but my goal is to lead by example, and sometimes, as the head of the company, you have to be the boss.”


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