Be a Problem-Solver for Your Customers

California-based Express Sewer & Drain is an example of how approaching work with a problem-solving mindset helps not only customers, but also a company’s bottom line

Be a Problem-Solver for Your Customers

An Express Sewer & Drain crew on a pipe bursting project.

Interested in Relining/Rehab?

Get Relining/Rehab articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Relining/Rehab + Get Alerts

Bill Heinselman believes it’s possible for his company to be generating $20 million annually in gross revenue in the near future. That would be a significant increase from where the business, Express Sewer & Drain in Rancho Cordova, California, was only a few years ago.

In 2013, around the time the company was last featured in Cleaner magazine, Express Sewer & Drain did $4 million in gross revenue.

A key part of that growth has been how the company has positioned itself as a problem-solver for customers. According to Heinselman, figuring out how to use equipment to solve customers’ problems with innovative solutions is what separates a good company from the rest of the pack. Just about any contractor can learn how to run machines effectively and efficiently. 

“That’s why having properly trained employees to identify problems correctly and provide the proper solutions is so important,” Heinselman says. “One thing that our customers like about us is that they can call us with problems and we come up with solutions for them.”

One job offers a good case in point. A customer called because a clogged lateral line was backing up sewage into his business. As it turned out, that business was hooked up to the same lateral as an adjacent business.

“We had to separate the (lateral) lines,” Heinselman explains.

But a big obstacle loomed: A road that runs behind the two businesses had just been repaved, and a California state law imposes a five-year moratorium on tearing up newly paved roads. In extreme cases, roads can be torn up, but then contractors must follow strict guidelines — including repaving far beyond where the work occurs — that make projects prohibitively expensive because of the high cost of labor and asphalt, Heinselman says.

But Express Sewer & Drain developed a novel solution. In a typical pipe-bursting job, workers string a cable through a host pipe, then use that cable to pull through a pipe bursting head that breaks up the pipe and pulls in a new PVC lateral line. Since there was no lateral line to serve as a host pipe in this case, workers instead used a Ditch Witch directional drilling machine to run the pipe bursting cable underground from the building out to a manhole that, as luck would have it, was located in the road, directly across from the building. 

“Then we cored a hole in the manhole wall and set up our pipe-bursting equipment inside the manhole,” Heinselman says. “After that, we pulled a new 6-inch-diameter, 60- or 70-foot-long lateral into the manhole.

“By thinking outside the box, we effectively rerouted the one building’s sewer line by running a cable through dirt instead of through a host pipe, then used the pipe-bursting equipment to pull in a new line.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.