Husband and Wife Team Work Side by Side in the Field

Jaco and Sonya Vasile buck the stereotypical arrangement of men tackling in-the-field work and women sticking to office tasks

Husband and Wife Team Work Side by Side in the Field

Jaco and Sonya Vasile

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It’s not unusual for husbands and wives to work together in small, family-owned businesses in the plumbing and drain cleaning fields. The division of labor typically shakes out with the husband working in the field while the wife manages the office and handles things like invoicing, accounting and miscellaneous paperwork.

But things are a little different at Pipeshield in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, where Sonya Vasile and her husband, Jaco, buck that stereotypical arrangement. Customers routinely see Sonya working in the field with Jaco, who established the company in 2018.

When Jaco found it impossible to hire a quality employee to help with cleaning drainlines and doing trenchless pipeline rehabilitation work, Sonya decided to quit her job as a physical therapist in early 2021 and help him out.

Sonya doesn’t remember if it was her idea or his, but one thing is certain: She’s not afraid to tackle unfamiliar things, such as running a water jetter or pipeline inspection camera or lining pipes.

“Since I couldn’t find a good employee, she’s out in the field with me,” Jaco says. “She does just about whatever I do — inspecting lines, cleaning drainlines, digging pits, installing liners and so forth. She’s a real trooper.”

“I really enjoy the work,” Sonya says. “I like that it’s very technical and that there’s a lot of science behind it all. Plus it’s very cool to see jobs before and after.

“I also love to see the solutions Jaco comes up with. Sometimes I think, ‘Oh my god, this job is impossible to fix.’ But then Jaco fixes it and the customer is super happy.”

Sonya, who routinely helps Jaco shoot liners up to 200 feet long, says most of the technologies the company uses can be fairly easy to use if people are diligent and eager to learn. Learning new skills is a bonus — and so is working with her husband, she says.

“It’s nice to work alongside Jaco because I can see him more. It has helped us get closer because I know what he goes through every day.”

Why leave a good job to do something completely unfamiliar and unknown? “I believe in him and want him to succeed,” she says. “By helping him, I’m also helping our family. And it’s actually a lot of fun doing something completely different, as well as seeing exactly what he does.”

Ultimately, the couple would like to hire employees, especially since they have small children and put in very long hours. But until that happens, they plan to keep making it work by working together.

“We’re trying very hard to hire someone,” Jaco says. “But it’s going to be difficult to find someone who can replace her.”

Read more about Pipeshield in the January 2022 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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