Franchise Grows with Versatile New Equipment

Mr. Rooter of Seattle expands into new markets with jetters that can do it all

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Franchise Grows with Versatile New Equipment

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Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Seattle looks very different today than the one-man plumbing company Vinnie Sposari started 27 years ago.

The franchise now has three branches: the main shop in south Seattle, and shops in Snohomish and Tacoma. Together, they serve as the go-to plumbing company in Snohomish, King, Pierce and Thurston counties.

“With the three branches right now we’re at about 55 employees,” says Robert Miller, the general manager. “That’s pretty steadily increased over the past few years. I started here about six years ago and we were probably closer to about 25 to 30; so definitely an uptick in the last six years.”

The company has grown and made a name for itself by providing 24/7 service and handling everything plumbing related.

“We specialize in all things plumbing and drain cleaning,” Miller says. “Sometimes people see the name Rooter and think we’re just rooter guys but that’s not the case. We have many licensed plumbers, obviously. But clogged pipes, sewer line issues, water lines in the ground or pipes in houses, water heaters, toilets, and faucets — you name it, we do it. If it has anything to do with water coming into the home or anything leaving the home, we can help.” 

The hard work of Sposari, Miller and the rest of the company has paid off. Besides being well-known in western Washington, the branch was recognized as Franchise of the Year and the No. 1 Mr. Rooter in the nation in 2016.

“That’s obviously something we’re very proud of,” says Miller. The award isn’t based simply on sales or sales per capita — Mr. Rooter looks for a company doing things the right way and taking care of their customers — although market penetration and profits are definitely a factor. 

The 2016 award isn’t the only recognition Mr. Rooter of Seattle receives. The exemplary branch regularly gets asked to help out new franchisees when they have questions. Often among the top five franchises in the nation, the Seattle branch has also routinely been tapped by Mr. Rooter to pilot test new programs and ideas to see whether they’re a good idea to implement across the board. 

A lot of Mr. Rooter of Seattle’s success is due to the growth of its two other branches in the last five years. “The amount of work, specifically in the areas of Snohomish County and Pierce and Thurston counties, has rapidly grown. The growth of those two locations was to the point where we needed updated equipment that could do the things we wanted to do.”

When it came time for some new equipment, Mr. Rooter relied on a business relationship Sposari had cultivated over the last two decades. Shortly after Miller came on board he was made aware of the name Jetters Northwest.

“We’ve gone to Jetters Northwest for maintenance, parts and supplies, and knowledge on different things, so I got familiar with them pretty early on,” Miller says. “We purchased several jetters from them. We’ve had a longstanding business relationship of over 20 years and it’s just kind of continued to grow.

“Customer service was a big part of transitioning to the Eagle 300. Every experience with Jetters Northwest has been very professional, very helpful. We appreciate the fact that we have somebody that we know is going to get things handled and get us the answer efficiently and quickly, and take care of us. We want to buy local as much as possible. The franchise is nationwide but we’re an independently owned franchise and a local company and we like the fact that we have a local company to work with.” 

The remote operation of the Eagle 300 was another big selling point. Mr. Rooter is going after bigger maintenance jobs for commercial buildings and restaurants. A powerful jetter that only took one guy to operate was intriguing. “By not having to have two guys, we can be a little more aggressive on our pricing and maybe penetrate some markets that we weren’t able to be in before.” 

The two-engine system was another feature that sold Miller on the Eagle 300. “There are many applications where we might need one high-powered engine fired up to 4,000 psi, or a smaller application with a 2-inch drain; and the nice thing about the Eagle 300 is being able to use just one engine, instead of the wear and tear on both. We don’t end up with a larger engine that doesn’t need to be operated at full capacity.” 

From flushing a line in a multistory building to providing enough power to turn a Warthog, while still being functional enough to operate at a lower level, Miller says the Eagle 300 just made sense.

“We looked at building our branches and the flexibility of a machine that could do it all for us. So we bought one for each branch. The branch managers — who sometimes get the hand-me-down stuff — love the new shiny equipment. It’s worked really well for us.”

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