The Best Money-Makers of 2018

Here are some of the top tools that contractors featured in Cleaner magazine in 2018 rely on to keep their companies profitable

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Underground Connections of Wooster, Ohio, invested $55,000 a couple years ago to purchase the Pit Shot, a compact directional drilling machine made by RODDIE. It has allowed the company to overcome the typically high cost of horizontal directional drilling equipment so that it can add the boring of new waterlines and sewer lines to its service offerings, complementing the company’s trenchless pipe rehab services. The machine has led to a 25 to 30 percent increase in revenue.

“I immediately thought it would be a game-changer, and it has been. I have a dedicated crew of two guys for that machine, and it goes out almost every day. It has increased our capacity to help out customers with certain things that we couldn’t do before. It fits in an excavation pit that’s only 4 feet long and 2 feet wide.” — Tom Carlisle, owner of Underground Connections

Affordable Plumbing & Sewer of Kansas City, Missouri, has had great success on pipe lining jobs using Quik-Shot systems made by Pipe Lining Supply. The company has two such systems, which each weigh about 50 pounds making them easy to transport to hard-to-access areas and are engineered to use a minimum of moving parts so that breakdowns are rare. The machines each cost about $45,000, but since investing in them the company estimates it has more than doubled revenue.

“I can shoot anything. I regularly shoot two to three lines a week — and sometimes four. The great thing is being able to fix pipes under streets without tearing up pavement. Doing a street cut will cost at least $10,000, so the Quik-Shot gives me a big competitive advantage, plus it’s so versatile. On average, I can do a 100-foot job in about six hours.” — Rick Ramsey, owner of Affordable Plumbing & Sewer

MAC Plumbing of Naples, Florida, used to waste hours driving from job sites to the company shop to pick up its trailer-mounted water jetter and then head back to the job site. It invested in an Urban Warrior jetting unit made by Spartan Tool to solve that problem. The unit measures about 4 cubic feet and is skid-mounted in the back of a Ford Transit.

“It’s difficult to park when you’re towing a trailer jetter all the time. So if we needed to jet out a line, we had to tell the customer to hold on, then drive back to our shop, hitch up the jetter, and trailer it back to the job. We do a lot of work downtown, and the traffic can be nuts — especially during tourist season. So it could easily be a two-hour round-trip. Now our jetter is with us all the time — immediately available. We can take care of problems right then and there. It’s been a game-changer.” — Marc Carestia, co-owner of MAC Plumbing

Commercial Sewer Cleaning of Indianapolis uses a Super Products Camel Maxxx 1200 water-recycling vac truck to boost its sewer cleaning productivity. Under optimal conditions, the truck can operate all day on a single 1,500-gallon tank of water. Other features include a 12-cubic-yard debris tank, a water pump with pressure and flow of 2,500 psi and 100 gpm, front-mounted hose reel with capacity for 1,000 feet of 1-inch-diameter hose, and a 26-foot-long boom.

“If the sewer is relatively clean and the water flow is decent, we can run all day off one initial load of water. That’s significant because I’d say that 75 to 80 percent of the time, we have to pay for water, as well as rent a hydrant meter to track our usage. On the sewer cleaning side of our business, everything is production-based. So the more footage we can clean per day, the better off we are. With the Camel, we might get as much as six or seven hours a day of straight production because we’re not stopping to get more water.” — Dennis Young, president of Commercial Sewer Cleaning

AccuJet Sewer and Drain Cleaning of Perry, Iowa, invested in a Schwalm USA Talpa FSR 2060 sewer rehab robotic system in early 2018 to help with the risky work of prepping badly deteriorated sewer pipes for lining as well as the required post-installation work. Different heads can be attached to the unit, allowing it to grind, sand, cut, and chip away at mineral deposits, built-up grit, tuberculation, and even concrete.

“We did a job in Illinois where we had to cut out 56 taps in a sewer line. With a conventional tool, that might’ve taken a week. But we started on a Monday and finished on Wednesday. We cut the job time almost in half. And we can charge more, too, because people are willing to pay more for a company that does a better job.” — Kyle Baxter, owner of AccuJet Sewer and Drain Cleaning, on the robot’s ability to reinstate lateral lines


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