New Technologies Open New Markets

Rick Hedge has long operated according to a key business lesson learned from his father — reinvest profits into new equipment

New Technologies Open New Markets

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Rick Hedge learned a lot during the decades he’s worked with his father, Dick Hedge, who started the company that the younger Hedge now owns, The Plumber’s Plumber in Fort Myers, Florida.

One of the most valuable lessons was to keep reinvesting company profits into machines and technology that not only improve productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction, but that can open up new markets for growth, too.

A good example of the company’s technology-centric mindset is the recent investment in a ROVVER X crawler pipeline inspection camera from Envirosight.

The camera cost $70,000 — a considerable investment. But Hedge believes it will more than pay for itself by serving as a steppingstone into a new market for the company: trenchless repair of larger-diameter pipes than the company typically fixes. 

“Our specialty is rehabbing small-diameter, 2- and 4-inch cast iron residential lines,” Hedge says. “But this camera will help us establish a new division that will handle 6- to 8-inch-diameter pipes. 

“My plan is to make $1,500 a month with it and pay the camera off in five years. But if we can find someone to run the camera full time, it’ll pay for itself in a year; we’ll get there fast. The potential is unlimited.”

Hedge also points to a Brute 4009 propane gas-powered portable water jetter (9 gpm at 4,000 psi), built by Jetters Northwest, as another good investment. The machine expanded the company’s drain cleaning capabilities and market because it can be operated inside buildings, an attractive option for customers that would rather not have a dirty jetter hose meandering through their businesses.

“I paid about $12,000 for that machine around two years ago, then landed a contract to flush the deli drains at three stores in a grocery chain at $5,000 a store,” Hedge says. “So it paid for itself right away. They think it’s awesome that we can bring in the Brute, put it right over a drain and go after it without a greasy, 300-foot-long hose snaking through the produce aisle and past the registers.”

Read more about The Plumber’s Plumber in the July 2022 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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