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Camera truck gives contractor a successful outlook
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When Bob Muchka founded The Expediters Inc., a sewer cleaning and pipeline inspection outfit in Oconomowoc, Wis., back in 2003, all he wanted was a chance to get his foot inside the doors of some key clients. But by investing in advanced technology that greatly differentiated his business from competing firms, he instead blew those doors wide open.

The door-buster came in the form of a cube camera truck manufactured by Aries Industries, equipped with a PE2600 tractor-mounted camera and WinCan pipeline management software, which generates crisp, high-resolution digital videos and color-coded inspection reports.

“Most people at the time provided clients with (inspection) reports on VHS tape,” Muchka recalls. “But Aries convinced us that going digital with the WinCan technology would allow us to break into the marketplace with something no one else would have … we could burn video onto a DVD.

“The video product we delivered was clearer, because it was digital, and the written report color-coded any defects, while others were in black and white,” he continues. “It was a big deal.

“That software allowed us to break into a good-old-boy’s network of sewer televisers that otherwise would have been difficult to do,” he adds. “I think it would’ve taken me three times as long to break into the industry as it did. Customers were impressed with the system, and they told other people … we’re still one of the only contractors in the state that provides color-coded written reports to our clients.”

 

Technology keys expansion

Today, Muchka – who owns the company with his wife, Kay – primarily does municipal cleaning and inspection work, either as a contractor or a subcontractor for private engineering firms. He says his company does work in 71 municipalities statewide in Wisconsin, aided by a Vactor 2100 sewer cleaning truck, an Avanti International manhole-grouting system, a spot pipelining system made by Formadrain Inc., and an easement jetter manufactured by Sewer Equipment Co. of America.

“With help from our son, Peter, we’ve developed from scratch a sewer cleaning and televising business that generates in excess of $800,000 a year in gross revenue,” he says.

Muchka also touts the Aries Lateral Evaluation Television System (LETS) that can televise sewer laterals from sewer mainlines, eliminating the need to go inside houses.

“As they (Aries) came out with the newer technology, we bought into it,” Muchka explains. “We felt we had to stay on top of the newest products they had available, like the LETS, which locates laterals and televises them from the sewer main.

“For a lateral inspection project we’re doing for a municipality, we’ve already performed 203 inspections,” he continues. “Can you imagine knocking on 203 doors to see if we can get inside to do the inspection? It would be a nightmare to coordinate and get into 200-plus homes, plus you’re inconveniencing people by dragging equipment down into their basements. LETS is much faster and more cost-effective, and less intrusive.

“As far as productivity is concerned, we can do 15 to 35 inspections a day,” he adds. “If we went inside every house, we might complete three, or maybe four or five inspections per day, so our productivity is substantially higher. We can turn more jobs over the course of a year, which makes you more profitable.”

 

Backups save time

Muchka also firmly believes in having backup cameras and tractors on hand to avoid costly downtime if equipment breaks down – especially on jobs far from the company’s headquarters.

“Some breakdowns are inevitable, given the hostile environment in which the equipment works,” Muchka notes. “But Aries has been very instrumental in helping us create a truck that we can now feel comfortable going anywhere in the United States, knowing that if anything breaks down … we just switch it out with backup equipment and finish the job, instead of having to go home and come back again with replacement equipment. You’re going to lose money on a job like that.”

How important is the camera truck to Muchka’s business?

“If not for Aries, we’d be bankrupt,” he asserts. “Without that truck, I’d have no business. If not for that new technology, I might not have made it, because municipalities would not have given me a second look. I would have been just another guy televising sewers.”



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