Heavy Technology Investment Helps Equix Integrity Serve the Nation

Over the past decade, Equix Integrity has grown from a cross-bore inspection firm with one location into a diversified company providing water and wastewater services across the country

Heavy Technology Investment Helps Equix Integrity Serve the Nation

Members of the Houston team for Equix Integrity pose in front of one of the company’s trucks, a 2023 KAISER AquaStar. Equix Integrity is one of several companies under the umbrella of its parent, Equix Inc., and has 100 employees working in 15 different states. 

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Equix Integrity was once a one-facility operation. It now works regularly in 15 different states.

Equix Integrity is one of six businesses that stand under the umbrella of Equix Inc., headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, a nationwide construction services corporation focused on utility and infrastructure projects. Equix Integrity was established in 2012 in Bloomington, Minnesota, to provide cross-bore inspection services primarily to horizontal directional drilling contractors and natural gas utilities, says Andrew Undicelli, vice president.

Since 2012, the company has established six more facilities in Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Maryland and Connecticut — the latter two via acquisitions. It also now employs about 100 people and has invested millions of dollars in equipment.

The company has also expanded its services into complementary offerings. On any given day, Equix Integrity crews fan out from their locations to do not only cross-bore inspections but also clean, inspect and rehab sewer lines for municipalities, construction firms, state transportation departments and pipe lining contractors. The company also rehabs manholes.

The growth is a result of capitalizing on an increasing need for a specialized service, coupled with a strategic expansion plan, an emphasis on diversified service and continual investments in advanced technology.

“The company is very committed to growth in all its business units,” Undicelli says. “So we recognized that adding additional services that lined up with existing service offerings would increase our opportunities and overall potential.

“Another advantage is our ability to take on larger projects as a turnkey contractor, something that many of our customers find beneficial. As we continue growing our business, we will continue to look to add new technology and service offerings to expand our reach and our appeal to potential new customers.” 

Emphasis on cross bores

Equix Integrity’s initial foray into cross-bore inspections was spurred by an ever-growing need for the service amid growing awareness of the dangers they present. For the uninitiated, cross bores occur when contractors accidentally drill through natural gas or lateral lines during trenchless installations.

This can lead to clogs and decrease the integrity of punctured lines, not to mention create an extremely dangerous condition for contractors who unknowingly rupture gas lines with drain cleaning equipment. Because of poorly done or outdated sewer line mapping, cross bores are more common than one might think. The Cross Bore Safety Association reports that the average rate of cross bores is 0.4 for every mile of sewer line.

Equix Integrity performs several different kinds of cross-bore inspections. Preconstruction inspections center on televising sewer lines to find existing cross bores and mapping the locations of laterals so that HDD crews can avoid puncturing pipelines. These inspections determine the depths and locations of laterals so that HDD contractors can plan accordingly, Undicelli says.

Post-construction inspections focus on inspecting mains and laterals to be sure that no cross bores occurred during gas-line installations, Undicelli explains.

There’s also what’s known in the industry as “legacy” inspections, which are similar to post-construction inspections but focus on larger areas where mains and laterals sometimes were installed decades ago, before cross-bore prevention was a concern. Utilities typically run a risk model to prioritize areas they deem the most likely to have existing cross bores, Undicelli notes.

The company relies on a large fleet of camera trucks, outfitted by CUES and Aries Industries, as well as RIDGID SeekTech SR-20 pipeline locators, to perform inspections. Many of the trucks are dedicated to cross-bore inspections and the rest focus on other water and wastewater work, Undicelli says.

Cross-bore inspections remain the backbone of the company’s business, generating about 50% of its revenue.

“There are thousands of miles of (gas) lines being installed every year and the awareness of the dangers of cross bores has increased dramatically in the last 10 years or so,” Undicelli says.

Success begets success

In 2016, Equix Integrity opened locations in Ohio and Colorado and then entered the sewer cleaning industry by acquiring two companies — one in Connecticut and one in Maryland — that inspected, cleaned and rehabbed sewer lines.

In 2021, the company opened another location in Texas because of the promising business opportunities there. The work in Texas includes cross-bore inspections for a natural gas utility and televising and cleaning lines for various cities across the state and for smaller “mud” districts, Undicelli explains.

Keys to growth

One critical factor in the company’s growth has been constant investments in advanced technology. For example, Equix Integrity has invested millions of dollars in AquaStar water recycling combination vacuum trucks from KAISER Premier, as well as Camel Max Series 1200 wastewater recycling vac trucks from Super Products.

Most of the trucks feature 12-cubic-yard debris tanks and water pumps that generate 80 to 120 gpm at 2,500 psi.  

The company also owns jetting trucks from US Jetting with water pumps that generate flow and pressure of 65 gpm at 2,000 psi and 500- or 1,000-gallon water tanks. 

To rehab manholes the company invested in grout trucks built out by CUES with test-and-seal packers from Logiball.

Equix Integrity also owns three manhole rehab systems, one from AP/M Permaform that includes a grout pump from ChemGrout, another one from Imer and a Quadex Lining System from Vortex that also includes a ChemGrout pump.

Rounding out the fleet of equipment are several easement camera systems from CUES, mounted on either Kawasaki (Hitachi Construction Machinery Group) or Kubota all-terrain vehicles.

How does the company afford such capital-heavy investments? The answer underscores another factor in the company’s growth: strong financial backing from the ownership growth, Undicelli says.

“Other companies may have business opportunities, but they don’t always have the financial resources to capitalize on them,” he says, noting that a camera truck and a recycling vac truck, combined with a fully trained crew, requires about a million-dollar investment.

More success factors

To attract and retain employees, Equix Integrity offers competitive pay and benefits such as paid time off, paid holidays and 401(k) retirement plans. The company also offers additional incentive plans. Undicelli says the company understands the competitive job market and does everything it can to show existing and potential employees how valuable they are to the company’s success.

On-the-job safety has also played a big role in the company’s success, Undicelli notes.

“It’s one of our stronger selling points when we talk to potential customers,” he says. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that safety and operations work hand-in-hand with each other at this company. Health, safety and environment and operations are in lock-step with everything we do. Safety is our first and most important core value. From the very top of our organization to a new hire, we hold safety above everything else — no exceptions.”

Looking ahead

Are there any takeaways from the company’s success story that can benefit smaller contractors that don’t have a multi-million-dollar corporation backing them up? Undicelli says that in many respects, Equix is similar to many other contractors because it started out small, too.

“A lot of our success comes from responsible growth and that’s a big consideration no matter how big you are,” he notes. “It’s important to not get in over your head from the beginning — don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

Undicelli expects more growth for the company in the coming years. Some of it could come through expanding the company’s geographic footprint, especially by leveraging relationships with existing customers that have operations in other areas around the country. More acquisitions are also possible, too, he says.

“Everything is on the table at this point,” Undicelli says. “Our foot is always on the gas pedal. This industry definitely is poised for further growth. We’re very optimistic about the future.”


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