The Larger Picture of a Pipe Rehab Job

On your next rehab job, move beyond the ‘another pipe, another job’ mentality

The Larger Picture of a Pipe Rehab Job

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Our team at Ted Berry Co. recently completed a commercial drain rehabilitation project — a few hundred feet of mostly 3- to 5-inch pipe with a little 6-inch. Everyone in the plumbing, sewer and drain, or trenchless industries has seen it a thousand times: old, failed cast-iron pipe running under and through a building. Just another pipe, another job, another day, right?

With any commercial pipe rehabilitation project, there is a maze of pipe — varying sizes and materials — running somewhat wildly through a building, often with no prints and difficult access. The challenges are common: access, materials selection, budgeting, scheduling, cost control, etc.

But going through a few pictures of this project made me really stop and think.

What many contractors fail to realize is that to someone, these are more than just pipes. They are their pipes, under their building, and until now they have never fully realized how important they are to maintaining their way of life.

This particular project was in a nursing home — a place where people live and a place where someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, or friend are living their lives — and a project like replacing sewer pipes can turn their world upside down. Many of you may have a little sign hanging in your home that says something like "Home is where the heart is" or "There is no place like home," but you have probably never seen one that says, "My home is built on top of a maze of failing sewer pipes, and I have no idea what to do when they fail!"

I often talk about three P's on a project like this: people, product and process. However, this was a little different. This project was driven by pride, people and process.

Pride — When it is real and genuine, nothing else can compete with it. Nothing.

People — Equipment and tools have never built anything great, only people have. From the Roman aqueducts to the roof over your family’s home, all things big and small are done by people. When a group of people come together, support each other, and commit to doing great things, no one and nothing can stop them.

Process — Trenchless rehabilitation — when properly applied — still amazes people when they see it. Having a critical path project management approach coupled with amazing technology can help lessen the burden on a facility and residents.

So, during your next "just another pipe" day, think about that pipe, what it does, and who it serves.

About the Author

Matt Timberlake is president of Ted Berry Co. in Livermore, Maine.


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