Plumbing Company Adds Camera Services to Better Serve Customers

Less-expensive inspection camera yields big benefits for Texas plumbing outfit.
Plumbing Company Adds Camera Services to Better Serve Customers
Edward James, co-owner of AE Plumbing, uses the 100-512SL pipeline inspection camera system (Trojan Worldwide) to inspect a drain at a customer’s home in San Antonio.

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For years, Alex Cavazos and Edward James relied on subcontractors to do camera inspections for their San Antonio-based company, AE Plumbing, which is named after the owners’ first name initials.

“It was frustrating because we were losing out on business,” says Cavazos, who founded the company with James in 2013. “So we saved money to buy a camera.”

As a two-man outfit managing a relatively young business, making such a significant capital investment was a big step. But while looking at options two years ago, they discovered a machine that gave them a lot of bang for their buck: A C100-512SL pipeline camera inspection system made by Trojan Worldwide.

The main attraction? A low price — $1,995 — coupled with an array of options normally associated with much more expensive units. “The price really caught our eye,” Cavazos says. “Other cameras we looked at cost double, triple or even four times as much. Plus, it seemed like it had everything we needed. It was a great value.”

The machine, which is designed to inspect 1 1/2-inch- to 5-inch-diameter lines, comes with a 1-inch-diameter, self-leveling, waterproof camera head with adjustable LED lights. Other standard features include a 7-inch LCD monitor with a visor to prevent screen glare, a 512 Hz transmitter, built-in foot counter, 115-foot pushrod cable, built-in battery with seven-hour life, built-in microphone for voice recording during inspections, and SD card recording capability.

In addition, the unit weighs just 16 pounds (22 pounds with its protective case, which is included as a standard item), which makes it easy to transport. It also takes up very little room in service vehicles, and its collapsible back legs allow it to be used standing vertically or horizontally (laid on its back). Moreover, it comes with a one-year warranty.

The unit has been a game changer for AE Plumbing. The first time Cavazos used the machine, it did exactly what he expected: revealed a section of broken sewer lateral that led to a pipe replacement, which generated much more revenue than a simple drain cleaning job.

“The inspection showed tree roots coming through the pipe,” he recalls. “It worked great. Before, we could try to clear it with a cable. And without a camera, you’d have to dig down to see the problem. So this definitely cuts down on time (required for diagnosing problems).”

Moreover, by charging an extra fee for camera inspections, the company developed a new revenue stream that quickly paid off the initial cost of the camera. In addition, the camera gives the duo greater control over workflow because they’re not forced to wait for a subcontractor to come and do an inspection for them, Cavazos says.

“We were a little surprised that a camera at that price has so many features,” Cavazos notes. “The self-leveling head, for instance, is great. No matter which way the camera moves and bends, the picture on the monitor always is level. And the clarity of the picture is good, too.

“We’ve also had no problems with cable breakage,” he adds. “We’ve put this camera out a good 75 feet and it still pushes the camera head out just fine. Some cables start to bend and aren’t sturdy enough to keep pushing the camera head out, but not this one.”

Cavazos says the SD-card feature improves customer service by giving them the capability of providing photos and/or videos to customers, either by downloading the images/video and emailing them or giving them the flash memory card to plug into their computers. “Customer really appreciate that,” he says.

The camera also provides a less-tangible but very important benefit: It portrays AE Plumbing as a modern, professional plumbing outfit. That’s important because most of the company’s business comes from word-of-mouth referrals, and looking and acting professional and providing efficient service drives those referrals, he says.

“The camera has definitely brought us more business — helped us get jobs we couldn’t get before — and generates more revenue,” Cavazos says, noting the company also owns a Trojan Worldwide drain cleaning machine. “For customers, seeing is believing, and with video and photos, they can see what the problem is and what it takes to fix it.

“It’s definitely a plus for customers,” he continues. “It was a very significant investment for our company, but it has definitely paid off.” 


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