The Best Moneymakers of 2019

Here are some of the top tools that contractors featured in Cleaner magazine in 2019 relied on to keep their companies profitable

Interested in Cleaning?

Get Cleaning articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Cleaning + Get Alerts

Exterior Maintenance Inc. of North Branch, Minnesota, uses VecLoaders, portable vacuum units built by Vector Technologies, to remove gravel ballast from flat roofs in preparation for new roof installations. The typically laborious, time-consuming task is made easier by the VecLoaders. Each two-axle VecLoader is powered by a 150 hp John Deere engine and relies on a 3,510 cfm Roots blower (Howden). The units measure almost 17 1/2 feet long by nearly 8 1/2 feet wide and just more than 11 feet high, and they weigh 10,500 pounds when empty. They can collect 4 to 8 tons of material an hour (based on steel-grit collection at a distance of 200 feet) and the 7- to 8-cubic-foot hopper can be raised high enough to empty waste into a dump truck or container, then lowered for easier transport.

“Three of our machines operate all summer long, seven days a week. We could use a vacuum truck, but the VecLoaders are so much smaller and lighter. ... We can work in pretty confined areas to get access to roofs, plus our drivers don’t need commercial drivers’ licenses. ... Sometimes a machine will run 10 or 12 hours straight. We’ll turn it on in the morning and never shut it off all day. We fill up one truck, and when it leaves to haul the gravel away, another truck comes in. They’re very sound, well-engineered machines; they have to be because we’re constantly throwing tons of gravel at them every day. And if we ever run out of roof work, we’ll just find other ways to use the VecLoaders. You can use these machines to suck just about anything.” — Jon Peterson, vice president of sales for Exterior Maintenance Inc.

Pipe Wizard Plumbing of New Orleans has long relied on the M30 MaxBlast portable jetter from MyTana Mfg. Designed to clean lines from 1 1/2 to 6 inches in diameter, the machine measures 21 inches wide, 32 inches long and 48 inches tall, and it weighs about 240 pounds. It features a 13 hp Honda gasoline engine; a water pump that generates pressure and flow of 3,000 psi and up to 4 1/2 gpm; 75 feet of 1/8-inch-diameter hose and 200 feet of 3/8-inch-diameter hose; a pulse feature for working nozzles around tight pipe bends; and a thermal regulator that prevents the water pump from overheating. The unit also comes with six different nozzle tips and a 50-foot jumper hose.

“I’ve tried other brands of portable jetters, and for what we do, MyTana is by far the best. It outlasts them all, with the least amount of maintenance. Durability is important to me because if a water pump goes down on a job, that’s it — you’re done. You can’t afford to buy equipment that messes things up right when you need it the most. ... They keep our sewer and drain division going. For the money, MyTanas are the best value on the market. They pay for themselves over and over again.” — Tommy Surcouf, owner of Pipe Wizard Plumbing

Koberlein Environmental Services of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, uses Arctic Blasters to thaw customers’ frozen pipes in the winter. The machines use pressurized steam rather than water. They weigh about 70 pounds and measure 16 inches long by 7 inches wide and 11 inches tall, and they are essentially water-boiling units that use a lit propane torch to heat water. Fill them with about 2 gallons of water and it is enough to produce about 15 minutes of steam. One of the two single-braid hydraulic hoses that come with the device — a 3/8-inch-diameter hose designed for thawing larger-diameter pipes and a 1/4-inch-diameter hose for smaller-diameter pipes — deliver the steam.

“It took a little bit to understand exactly where and how to use it. Now it’s one of our main tools for thawing frozen lines. We’ve found that it’s an excellent tool for providing great service in the communities we serve. ... If you have to work in a basement with a water jetter, for example, you’d be dumping a lot of water on the floor. This is a much cleaner way to thaw pipes. We wouldn’t keep buying them if they weren’t getting the job done and providing a good service for our customers.” — Gary Sprague, general manager of Koberlein Environmental Services

Ellingson Cos. of West Concord, Minnesota, uses Rovver X inspection cameras from Envirosight. The Rovver X features three different body sizes that can inspect 4- to 96-inch-diameter pipes; steerable, overlapping six-wheel drive for traversing offsets and debris; a zero-degree turning radius for maximum maneuverability in curved inverts; compact footprint; 1/4-inch-diameter, 1,000-foot-long Kevlar cable with 1,000-pound break strength and stored on an automated reel; simultaneous control of multiple camera functions; 12 quick-change wheel options; remote-control capability; and the ability to view and record digital video, log observations, generate reports for clients and link directly to asset management software. Optional lateral launch, side-scanning and laser-profiling systems are also available.  

“Running it is pretty self-explanatory — you don’t need a doctorate degree to learn how to operate it. That’s important because it shortens the learning curve. If we get a new guy, we can train him on the fly in the field. With other machines, you need classroom training to learn how to run it, so you’re potentially losing productivity out in the field. As long as you keep up with the general maintenance, they’re going to last. ... They’ve been a great investment for our company. They do everything we’ve asked them to do.” — Joe Bingham, production manager for Ellingson Cos.

Instead of purchasing another trailer jetter, AP Plumbing of Rochester, New York, worked with HotJet USA to design a custom jetter truck that fit all of the company’s needs exactly. The truck features a 14-foot-long box body on an Isuzu NPR dually chassis; HotJet USA Xtreme Flow jetting unit skid-mounted inside; UDOR U.S.A. triplex plunger water pump (4,000 psi at 18 gpm); 600-gallon water tank; rollup side door; dual telescoping Hannay reels with electronic payout and rewind; 500 feet of 1/2-inch-diameter hose and 300 feet of 3/8-inch-diameter hose, both made by Piranha Hose Products; and remote-control operation.

“Our No. 1 objective was an enclosed trailer. During winter around here, once temperatures fall below freezing, jetters don’t work very well, even if you use antifreeze. It’s easy to blow out pumps. But now we can service customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no matter what the weather is like. That’s great because customers in a jam don’t want to hear that we can’t work until it the weather warms up. All the guys love operating it. They all want to take that truck instead of the tow-behind jetters. We couldn’t be happier with it.” — Don Dugan, industrial manager for AP Plumbing


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.