Company Finds Success Staying Small, Focusing on Niche Market

Rogers & Sons was celebrating 40 years in business when it was last featured in Cleaner magazine in 2008. A decade later, here’s where the company stands at age 50.

Company Finds Success Staying Small, Focusing on Niche Market

Cloyd Mason Rogers Jr. works a job for DeKalb County, one of the company's oldest customers.

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Although Cloyd Mason Rogers Jr. lives in the tiny Georgia town of Lithonia (less than a square mile with a population under 2,000), he has a big marketplace to find work in.

“We’re just a dot on the map, but we’re next to the Atlanta metropolitan area that’s home to nearly 6 million people,” says the owner of Rogers & Sons.

They’ve stayed busy and built a solid reputation in the industrial cleaning business for going on half a century now, starting with Cloyd Rogers Sr. and a septic tank pumping effort that began in 1968. And while the younger Rogers is aware of the 50th anniversary milestone this year, he says the actual special date of the company’s start will be treated like “just another day at work — same old, same old.”

But that’s not to say there haven’t still been some struggles in the 10 years since the small firm was last featured in Cleaner magazine in November 2008.

“When you all did the article back then, we were rolling real good, doing a good bit of work and all. Then along came 2010-11, and the economy started going up and down, which caused our business to take the same crazy, unpredictable ups and downs too,” Rogers says.

Add some domestic problems to the work problems, and bankruptcy loomed. Introspection and refocusing stabilized everything. Although never a large company, Rogers downsized even further to his current office staff (sister Mary Evelyn) with himself as the lead service tech aided by a part-time employee for bigger jobs.

“We hardly do domestic septic work anymore,” he says of his mission change. “Residential jobs are still part of our workload, but our bread and butter is the commercial side, municipalities — like my oldest customer, DeKalb County (population 700,000), that has been a client since the early 1980s.

“Moneywise, I’m making half a million a year working regular hours in a five-day week, about the same as I earned back when we had more employees. Technically, I’m actually making more now because I’ve trimmed all the fat that was wasted manpower. If I had 80 employees, I’d need to do 10 times more work to feed them. Places like The Home Depot and Walmart have already figured out they don’t need lots of people walking around pushing a broom to keep busy. They’ve installed self-checkout stations to streamline their business — still doing the same amount of work and bringing in the same amount of money, just trimming the fat I guess. For me, I’ve found that smaller is smarter and works better.”

Cloyd Mason Rogers Jr. still occasionally builds or modifies equipment to suit his purposes, such as this crawler used to clear sewer easements.
Cloyd Mason Rogers Jr. still occasionally builds or modifies equipment to suit his purposes, such as this crawler used to clear sewer easements.

In the original 2008 profile, Rogers was lauded for inventing or modifying a lot of his industrial cleaning tools because he couldn’t find the equipment he needed. He modified root cutters so they would demolish concrete and used his ingenuity to create his own jetting nozzles and custom filters. He still does some of that, but he relies more on nearby businesses that already manufacture the necessities.

“You need to step back on what you’ve got to build and the headaches you’ll encounter trying to figure out which way is best for what you have to do. Time is money, and I need to spend my waking hours on the job, rather than in the shop making my own parts and tools,” Rogers says.

When it comes to equipment, he urges, “Don’t buy something you don’t actually need. You look at all those pretty new toys at trade shows and all. Then you come home and focus on where your business is at and you zero in on what you need to help the customers you have. Sometimes all this new technology isn’t the best in the world anyway. You can still kind of ‘old school’ it and get the job done.”

As a second-generation service supplier, the 43-year-old Rogers has been doing this kind of work full time since 1994, “although I actually started doing this kind of work with my dad when I was 6 or 7 years old.”

Rogers & Sons was last featured in the magazine in November 2008.
Rogers & Sons was last featured in the magazine in November 2008.

He’s watched the industry change over the years.

“Everything today is found in a niche, and you just have to find yours,” he says. “There are a million plumbers out there today, and it seems like every one of them is in the heating or air conditioning or electrical business — some even doing things like hydroexcavating. You just need to find your niche, and the customer base will find you. Once they know what you can do — what you’re not scared of tackling — they’ll call you.”

Rogers does little in the way of formal advertising.

“We maintain a website ( and are in the Yellow Pages just because, but 99 percent of our marketing is word-of-mouth. My customers are basically like family, and that’s how we treat them. Do what you promised to do, on time, and at the price you quoted.  People get impressed and make referrals.”

As he looks back on the past 50 years, Rogers has two bits of advice: “Don’t be intimidated by jobs. Use your brain to figure out an answer to the problems you encounter. And don’t let work run your life. Some folks are living to work, not working to live. You want the ledger book to be in the black not the red, but you also don’t want to lose sight of that fact that there’s a real world out there beyond the business itself.”

Playing Catch-Up

Cleaner has been revisiting companies profiled in the past to see what has happened to them since they last graced the pages of the magazine. Check out these other update stories about past Cleaner contractors:

Company Looks at Fine-Tuning Operations Following Rapid Growth

Sticking to Key Business Principles Drives Company's Growth

Young Plumber Continues to Grow Longtime LA Firm

Company Doubles Revenue By Sticking to Its Customer Service Principles

Contractor Adapts to Changing Demands of Service Area

Company Maintains Success By Cutting Back Service Offerings


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