Taking It Light

Durable and easy-to-carry drain machines provide California plumber with a competitive advantage.

Taking It Light

Manny Jimenez, owner of EJ Plumbing in Santa Clara, California, uses a Quadra Plex 2000 drain machine at a job site. Jimenez has invested in about 25 Quadra Plex 2000s, designed for lines ranging from 1 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter. (Photo courtesy of EJ Plumbing)

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When it comes to buying tools and machines, Manny Jimenez relies on a two-pronged philosophy: You get what you pay for, and stick with what works. As such, the fact that he owns more than two dozen Quadra Plex 2000 cable drain machines speaks volumes about the value they bring to his company, EJ Plumbing in Santa Clara, California.

“I started plumbing when I was 17, and the company I worked for at the time used Quadra Plex machines,” says Jimenez, age 39, who established his company in 2005 and employs 52 people, including 45 service technicians. “So when I started my own company, I stuck with Quadra Plex. I really like the machines.”

Jimenez has invested in 25 or so Quadra Plex 2000s, designed for lines ranging from 1 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter. Why is he so loyal to Quadra Plex? For starters, they’re easy on technicians’ backs because the drum is easily removed in seconds — no tools required or belts to take off — for convenient transport.

“I love the fact that you can break the machine down into two easy-to-carry pieces,” he says. “That way it’s not so heavy that you need a small crane to lift it in and out of your truck — or two men.

“And customers like it, too, because we don’t have to roll a heavy unit through their homes,” he adds.

In addition, the Quadra Plex 2000’s transportability gives EJ Plumbing a competitive advantage because technicians can take the machine up on a roof to clean lines. “Other companies will not go on a roof because they can’t get their machine up there,” Jimenez says. “For safety reasons, we don’t like to go on roofs if we don’t have to. But sometimes we have no choice if there’s no clean-out or we can’t go through a toilet or a tub drain without creating a real mess.

“So we go up on that roof and clear the line and make a customer happy.”

EJ Plumbing’s services primarily include residential service and repair work, some new-construction plumbing, drain cleaning/inspections and trenchless pipe rehab work within roughly a 20-mile radius around Santa Clara, a suburb of San Jose.

ONE VERSATILE MACHINE

In addition, the removable drums make it easy to switch to various-sized cables, depending on what’s required for each job. It’s like having multiple cable machines that take up only the space of one machine on a service vehicle, he says.

The 2000 model can be purchased with 100 feet of either 3/8-, 1/2- or 3/4-inch-diameter cables for jobs ranging from clogged sink drains to mainline sewer blockages. Quadra Plex makes its own cables.

The drums weigh roughly 80 pounds with cable in them; the motor/chassis unit weighs about 60 pounds and measures 25 inches long, 27 inches tall and 17 inches wide (without a drum attached). The 3/8-inch cable drum is 12 inches in diameter and about 14 inches long; the 1/2-inch drum is 14 inches in diameter and about 16 inches long; and the 3/4-inch drum is 9 inches in diameter and about 22 inches long.

The 2000 model comes with a 2/5 hp electric motor that spins the drum at up to 190 rpm. It includes a built-in ground-fault circuit interrupter for safety in wet environments, plus an air-controlled foot switch.

“These machines are virtually maintenance-free,” Jimenez says. “But when we need help, Quadra Plex provides great service, too. You can always talk to a human being instead of an answering service.”

WORTHWHILE INVESTMENTS

EJ Plumbing also relies on hand-held drain machines made by Gorlitz Sewer & Drain. The company also owns about 20 pipeline inspection cameras, built by either RIDGID (SeeSnakes) or Vivax-Metrotech, plus a pipe bursting system manufactured by TRIC Tools, he says.

The cost of a Quadra Plex 2000 unit ranges from $1,865 with one drum of cable to $2,516 with three drums of cable. So with 25 or so machines, EJ Plumbing has spent a significant chunk of money over the years. But Jimenez says the machines are a great value because of their durability and reliability.

“My oldest machine is more than 10 years old,” he reports. “And if a motor ever goes out, I just order a new one from Quadra Plex and put it in — it’s really simple.

“We’ve unclogged thousands of drains over the years with these machines,” he adds. “And I’ve never been dissatisfied with their performance. You definitely get what you pay for.

“I always come back to them because they’re true workhorses,” he concludes. “I’ve built a drain cleaning business around these machines. The bottom line is they fix peoples’ problems, as well as help us employ 50-some people and feed their families.”



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