Company’s Offerings Grow Alongside Customers' Needs

Virginia contractor moves beyond plumbing and drain cleaning, adding hydroexcavation and other services to be a one-stop shop for his customers

Company’s Offerings Grow Alongside Customers' Needs

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Wayne Norman started his company four decades ago in Richmond, Virginia, as a plumbing and drain-cleaning operation. Today, Capital City Services’ offerings extend well beyond that, and the company is a prime example of how diversification can be a successful growth method.

“These jobs were all opportunities and challenges that came up, and nobody else was doing them,” Norman says of how he’s approached venturing into new service areas.

So he simply decided that he should undertake them. Among Capital City’s services now are hydroexcavation, pipe inspection, pipe relining, pipe repair and installation, pipe and culvert cleaning, thrust boring, pipe bursting, manhole rehabilitation, lift station repair, and utility locating.

A Growing Market

Norman’s first stab at hydroexcavation was 20 years ago when he contracted to uncover a line on the grounds of Richmond’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court. The digging needed to be accomplished neatly so Norman employed an industrial vacuum unit and water. Soon after he switched to combination sewer cleaning rigs for his pressure digging. Two years ago, he upgraded to a Mud Dog 1600 hydroexcavator (Super Products), a 16-cubic-yard unit on a Peterbilt chassis with a 2,000-gallon capacity water tank.

“Hydroexcavation is a growing market for us,” Norman says. “The more utilities you put in the ground, the more you need a hydroexcavator.”

Hydroexcavation contracts account for 25 percent of the company’s projects, according to Norman, with thrust boring and pipe bursting pulling in another 15 to 20 percent of the work. Three years ago, he purchased a Pow-r Mole Trenchless Solutions PD6, which can install a pipe either by directional thrust boring or pipe bursting, with its plunger pushing ahead underground at a rate of up to 7 feet a minute.

Capital City Services eventually expanded its array of services further to include water treatment plant maintenance and repair, camera inspection of pipes, and turnkey project management of pipe installations. And that’s only a partial listing. The company also fixes leaky pipes, does point repairs on stainless steel pipes, injects foam to seal bad joints, performs historic restoration work, repairs lift stations, dredges ditches, and — come winter — is on call to remove snow from parking lots.

“I didn’t really plan to expand into any of those areas,” Norman says. They were just opportunities that arose and he took advantage of them. “I’ve always wanted to be able to solve problems. That’s the only staple in all this: We solve problems. Throughout the years, we’ve built a reputation on that. Our company slogan is, ‘Solutions only experience can provide.’ That’s how we work. If we can’t do it right, we aren’t going to do it.”

The company’s diverse skill set has grown Capital City Services from one employee (Norman) and a stepvan to a dozen employees, an annual business volume of $2-3 million, and a 4-acre equipment yard containing more than 20 pieces of heavy machinery. The variety of equipment attests to the range of projects Norman is willing to undertake. Besides the aforementioned Mud Dog and Pow-r Mole Trenchless Solutions machines, parked in the yard are a pair of Camel sewer cleaning combination trucks (Super Products), two Vactor 2100 sewer cleaners, a fleet of street flush and pumper trucks, backhoes, dump trucks, several trailered jetting units, and the only Microtraxx radio-controlled culvert cleaner operated by a private contractor in Virginia.

Norman says that being a full-service, many-services company is a “good hedge” against downturns in any one segment of company business. 

“Doing so many specialty services has helped us a lot,” he says.



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