Compact hot-water, drain cleaning unit jump-started Colorado plumbing company’s growth.
When master plumber Greg Schulte started Family Man Plumbing LLC in early 2012, he envisioned becoming more than a JAGWAV: Just a Guy With a Van. And that vision has become reality, thanks in no small part to a little machine — the Crap Shooter — that opened up a lucrative new market and dramatically boosted his business volume.
Schulte says the Crap Shooter — a portable hot-water, drain-cleaning machine made by Bullfrog Industries — dramatically altered the course of his business in Westminster, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. When he first started out, he focused primarily on plumbing repairs. But with the Crap Shooter, drain cleaning now generates about 40 percent of his gross revenue.
“I wanted to get into drain cleaning and maintenance,” explains Schulte, who in his pre-Crap Shooter days subbed out drain cleaning work to other contractors — a painful thing to do. “So I went out and discussed it with companies that manage rental properties and with homeowner associations. I told them if they’d hire me for drain cleaning, I’d buy the equipment and do the work in a timely manner.”
Around the same time, Schulte met a Bullfrog Industries representative. Soon afterward, he gave the Crap Shooter a trial run and then purchased one for about $1,000. Schulte likes the 25-pound machine because it’s compact and easy to set up, which enables him to complete jobs faster. And less time on jobs translates into lower prices for customers and increased productivity.
“The Crap Shooter is completely self-contained,” he explains. “All I do is hook it up to a faucet and plug it into an electrical outlet. I don’t need to pull a hose through a building. … I can walk in and set it up in 10 or 15 minutes. In addition, hot water makes a difference when you’re trying to cut through oil and grease.
“It’s funny because every single time I bring in the Crap Shooter, customers ask me where my equipment is,” he says. “They’re impressed by the fact that I can jet lines without dragging dirty hoses through a building.”
The unit draws 11 amps, so it can operate on a standard 15-amp household circuit. It generates pressure of 1,500 psi at a flow of 1.65 gpm. The unit includes a 25-foot power cord with a two-prong GFCI plug; 50 feet of high-pressure hose that can handle up to 120-degree water; two heavy-duty jetter nozzles — a flusher and a thruster — that can clean pipelines up to 3 inches in diameter; and two faucet adapters.
Schulte also notes that the Crap Shooter is eco-friendly because it uses only water to clean pipes out to about 70 to 90 percent of their original flow rate. And because there are no moving parts, there’s no pipe-wear erosion.
“It’s plenty powerful,” he says. “You don’t need too much power to cut through sludge and debris because it typically stays wet. I used it at a friend’s house because he was having a problem with a wash machine drainline. Other guys ran rotors 75 feet through, but the problems continued. The Crap Shooter took care of it the first time through, and no other problems have occurred since then. That impressed me.”
Schulte says he uses the Crap Shooter for about 90 percent of his drain cleaning work. He also uses a RIDGID K-400 drum cable machine to handle tough root problems and a RIDGID K-25 hand-held machine.
“The Crap Shooter quickly paid for itself,” Schulte points out. “So everything I do with it is 100 percent profit, aside from my overhead. I can’t believe I increased my revenue that much with such a small purchase.”
Schulte now has more business than he can handle, partly because of the Crap Shooter and partly because of word-of-mouth referrals. As such, he’d like to hire employees who could help him expand his business even more. But until then, it’s just him and his Crap Shooter — and a burgeoning drain cleaning business.
“I really can’t say enough good things about the Crap Shooter,” he says. “Without it, I’d still be struggling — just a guy with a van.”