Drain Cleaner Branches Into Used Cooking Oil Business Per Customers’ Suggestion

Customers can be valuable business consultants, informing you on how to best grow and diversify your company

Drain Cleaner Branches Into Used Cooking Oil Business Per Customers’ Suggestion

John Remstedt, owner of Grease Masters in St. Charles, Missouri.

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For drain cleaners who are interested in diversifying their services but aren’t sure where to start, John Remstedt offers a sound strategy: Just listen to your customers.

“One of the main reasons we got into collecting used cooking oil was because our current customers kept asking us if we could do it,” says Remstedt, who owns Grease Masters in St. Charles, a suburb of St. Louis, along with his wife, Pam. “We were able to use our current vacuum truck fleet to do the collection, so all we had to purchase were the oil-collection bins, which cost about $500 apiece. But the initial cost to enter the market might range from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on what equipment you have to buy.”

The Remstedts also had to find buyers for the used cooking oil. The easiest route is using commodity brokers, who typically act as go-betweens to arrange sales to companies that primarily use the oil to make biodiesel fuel, Remstedt says.

Another major item to consider: How to get the oil processed to make it pure enough for buyers, who want it free of debris and moisture. To accomplish this, Grease Masters bought a small cooking oil collection company in St. Louis that owned its own processing system.

“The owner trained us and sold us proprietary information about how to set up a processing plant,” Remstedt says. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. I’m not the smartest guy in the world and I still was able to make a couple tweaks to the system that improved its performance.

“We soon went from processing about 3,000 gallons a month to 15,000 gallons per month. And in two years, we doubled our revenue on the used cooking oil side of the business.”

Read more about Grease Masters in the January 2019 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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