Quality Pays

Acres and Son rides quality workmanship and rapid development in its market area to success in the sewer and drain cleaning sector
Quality Pays
Acres Plumbing Service Manager Bruce Kane.

Take a look at the Acres and Son Plumbing article featured 10 years ago in the May 2003 issue of Cleaner magazine. We spotlight the company again in a follow-up story to see how the business has evolved over the last decade: “Cleaner Rewind: Staying Ahead of the Trends Boosts Drain Cleaning Business.”

When Randy Acres and his wife Sandy started Acres Plumbing in 1974, they ran everything from a small one-room office in their Naples, Fla., home. 

Sandy did the paperwork and Randy the plumbing. From the first day, their business philosophy was “Quality doesn’t cost, it pays.”

They focused on new construction, because Naples ranked among the fastest growing cities in the country. Acres Plumbing reflected the rapid expansion, hiring its first employees in 1979, then adding a remodeling service to the construction division. 

Randy started the service division mainly to take care of warranty work. He hired a plumber to cover calls, then gradually increased that number to 10 after adding a repairs division that includes around-the-clock emergency service. 

“Our radio dispatcher coordinates the locations of all eight service vans and can have a replacement hot water heater to your home within two hours of receiving the call,” says Bruce Kane, service manager. 

One of the largest

Today, Acres and Son Plumbing, Inc., is one of Southwest Florida’s largest plumbing companies, providing quality craftsmanship for everything from high-rise condominiums to custom or remodeled homes. 

The company services all of Lee and Collier Counties from Fort Myers to Bonita Springs and from Naples to Marco Island. Making it all possible are some 100 employees, including a college-educated staff, master plumbers, Randy’s son Ryan (co-owner), and daughters Rene Acres-Hatch and Rochelle Acres (both vice presidents). 

“We are especially proud that some of our original employees are still with us,” says Randy. “Great employees and lots of hard work have made Acres and Son Plumbing what it is today.” 

Naples and Collier counties are known for waterfront living. Residential developers are capitalizing on breathtaking views by building skyward. Condominium towers in Pelican Bay and Cape Marco on Marco Island are prime examples of luxury Gulf shore living. Acres and Son partner with some of these developers to add value to the development. 

The company has have service contracts with multiple condominium complexes in Southwest Florida. In addition to condos, Acres provides services to shopping centers, local regional malls, and large office buildings along U.S. route 41 and the Tamiami Trail. 

Broad service range

Acres and Son uses radio emergency dispatch in conjunction with fully equipped trucks, on call and ready to handle any emergency for the residential and commercial markets. The company provides sewer, drain and storm system cleaning, water line leak detection, high-pressure waterjet drain cleaning, certified backflow prevention testing, and video sewer line inspections. 

During new construction, sanitary lines, storm drains, and culverts often fall victim to sand and concrete mix. To restore the lines, Acres’ tool arsenal contains 1/3 hp electric snakes with 3/8-inch cable; 1/3 hp Maxi Rooter units with 1/2-inch cable (from General Pipe Cleaners); and a 3,000 psi/12 gpm water jetter with US Jetting’s Pipeline Diameter Recovery (PDR) jet nozzle on a skid to centralize the hose. 

In July 2002, the company purchased US Jetting’s 4018-300 trailer with 4,000 psi/18 gpm run-dry pump. The unit has a 4-cylinder, 55 hp Deutz diesel engine and pivoting reel system. 

“We always recommend taking a video of the lines before cleaning and clearing to troubleshoot the extent of the debris or damage,” says Rene. “It’s normal to see roots that have entered eroded and cracked pipes, but our technicians also have found survey stakes driven through the lines during the construction phase.” Other common items causing blockages are baby diapers, cleaning cloths, and an army of plastic GI Joes. 

Customer convenience

Service also means disrupting families’ routines as little as possible. If lateral lines serving a home need cleaning, Acres’ technicians enter through a pipe cleanout, then use 4,000 psi jetter at 18 gpm to blast out the blockage and clean the lines simultaneously. They follow the same procedure for the main sewer lines. Meanwhile, the occupants remain undisturbed. The process is also environmentally safe, because tap water is used. 

Acres and Son Plumbing also does CCTV inspections for new homebuyers to ensure sewer laterals are in proper working order before they purchase the property. In some cases where customers experience a continuous sewer problem, technicians use the camera to target the problem area. After they diagnose and fix it, the homeowner receives a color video of the entire inspection before and after repair. 

“We also use the hydrojetters to clean sewer lines after developers and utility companies have installed the utilities,” says Rene. “Then we run a camera through the sewer, tape the inspection, and give the tape and a written report to the condo association to certify that the lines were cleaned and are in good condition.” This also gives the association a detailed map of how the sewer and water lines are laid out. 

Besides inspecting sewer lines, technicians clean manholes, do certified backflow prevention testing, and perform underground or in-home leak detection. “We even offer water filtration and purification units,” says Rene. “Diversification protects the business against downturns in other divisions.” 

Going to market

Acres and Son markets aggressively – a necessity in a fast-growing and competitive market. “We do a lot of different advertising,” says Rene. “We try not to limit ourselves to advertising in the phone directories. We join in on our community parades, we have a softball team, we spend time at trade shows, do TV and radio commercials. We leave our customer’s with things like coolie cups, T-shirts, hats, jackets, anything to get our name out there. 

“Customer survey’s are one way we keep in touch with what our customers’ needs are. They also help us keep our service technicians trained in good customer relations.” Each time a technician does a call for a new customer, that customer receives a welcome letter. Enclosed is a short survey that asks the customer how the technician did, how satisfactory the service was, whether the customer would request the same technician again, whether the customer would recommend Acres to a friend. 

“For our existing customers, our Customer Care Supervisor follows up with a phone call,” adds Rene. “She makes sure that the customer is happy. If not, we go back at no charge. She always ends the call with: ‘If there is anything we here at Acres can do for you, please feel free to call me.’ We learn a lot from what the customer has to say, and how to handle things differently the next time. 

“We post all customer compliments on our bulletin board so that we all know how we are doing here.” 

Clean uniforms

All Acres technicians are experienced in quality customer service. They project their professionalism by arriving in clean uniforms, wearing a nametag with job title, and driving new vans equipped to handle any problem or emergency. Then, before departing, they thoroughly clean the work area. 

How successful is Randy’s “Quality doesn’t cost, it pays” philosophy? In a survey published in the May 2002 issue of Gulfshore Life, readers voted Acres and Son the “number one best plumber” in Southwest Florida. 

“Our goal is to remain number one,” says Rene, “and to do that we will continually go beyond what qualifies as ‘customer satisfaction.’” Professionalism doesn’t stop in the service and new construction departments. The remodel division not only works with the contractor, but one on one with the homeowner. 

Remodeling means more than just removing old sinks and setting new ones. “Sometimes we have to remove walls and chip up floors to move a tub under a window where the customer wants it,” says Rochelle. “Thoroughness here is so important here, because we’re working in a one room while the customer lives in the next.” 

All Acres and Son Plumbing fixtures and workmanship are warranted for one year from date of occupancy. After moving in to their new home, technicians return to make sure everything is working properly or make any necessary repairs at no charge. The company also offers a 90-day warranty on any repairs. 

Serving the community

Part of Randy’s business plan includes community involvement. The time and dollars his people spend working with local organizations are sound investments, reaping substantial rewards in public relations and advertising. 

The company actively participates in or belongs to the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Fraud Awareness, Collier Building Industry Association, Naples Area Chamber of Commerce, American Cancer Society, Humane Society of Collier County, National Apartment Area Association and the Condominium Owner Management Association. 

Acres has distinguished itself not only for its service to the community, but for the wide variety of professional services it offers. And over the years, the customers have discovered what its founders always knew: Quality pays. 

SIDEBAR: GETTING INTO JETTING

Acres and Son Plumbing, Inc., made a business decision a few years ago to enter the waterjetting business. 

“We branched into the area of hydrojetting because we saw a great need for it here in our community,” says Rene Acres. “We kept running into areas where our mechanical cleaning tools just wouldn’t do the job, and we would have to hire another company. So, we starting researching how many calls we had gone on that required us to hire out a jetter. We considered how much the jetter would cost and compared it to how much money we could make if we were able to take those calls. 

“Plus, we knew if we did the work ourselves it would be done right. A lot of research went into different companies, accessories. All the jetters offered many similarities, but the cost was the deciding factor. The US Jetting unit fit right into our budget. The jetter has really opened a lot of doors for our company."



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