No Subs Required

Vac-Con combo trucks eliminate contractor’s need for outside assistance
No Subs Required
Patrick Johnson of Goel Services Inc. in Washington, D.C., uses the jetter on his Vac-Con combo truck to clean a sewer line in a residential neighborhood in the D.C. metro area.

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For years, Jeff Nold found it painful to watch a percentage of job profits flow into subcontractors’ coffers. So the manager of the wastewater division of Goel Services Inc. in Washington, D.C, decided on a cure: Buy enough equipment to eliminate the need for subcontractors while boosting profitability and expanding service capabilities.

One of the newer additions to the company’s fleet is a reconditioned 2005 Vac-Con V312LHA-1300 combination sewer truck with hydroexcavating capability. Built on a Sterling LT7501 chassis, the unit features a 12-cubic-yard debris body, a three-stage centrifugal compressor, hydrostatic blower drive, a 1,300-gallon water tank, 10-foot telescoping boom and a water pump that generates up to 50 gpm at 3,000 psi.

“We’ve been trying very hard for the last five years to expand services to avoid subcontracting all our televising and sewer cleaning work,” Nold explains. “Without a doubt, it was painful to walk into my boss’s office with a $250,000 invoice from a subcontractor, and we’re getting $5,000 off the top. That hurts – especially when you know you could do the work yourself.

“We bought the reconditioned Vac-Con in October 2011,” he continues. “Currently, we rent two Vac-Con trucks, own two more and are in the process of buying a 2008 unit. Our company dropped $1.5 million on hard assets in the last year because we know the business is there … and we can make more money in the long run. These trucks definitely increase our productivity and our margins.”

Nold says he attended the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International to take a good look at various combo sewer trucks. In the end, Nold chose Vac-Con for its user-friendly features.

“If something breaks, like a pony generator, for example, we can fix it ourselves on the spot,” he notes.

Moreover, Nold says Goel saved $150,000 to $170,000 by buying a reconditioned unit with a six-month warranty.


Reliability is key

Buying reputable and reliable equipment benefits Goel in several ways. First of all, it helps the company submit bids with confidence because it can virtually guarantee the unit’s productivity.

“I know walking into it that if I can send out one of our cleaning crews with the Vac-Con unit to clean ahead, our CCTV crews can cover 2,000 linear feet per day,” Nold says. “And on a really good day, I know our crews can clean 3,500 to 5,000 linear feet per day.”

In addition, Nold knows full well that in a competitive business world, a company’s reputation is only as good as its last job. And that reputation is tarnished if equipment breaks down consistently, especially on emergency jobs where time is of the essence.

“We just did three emergency jobs in 10 days for a customer,” he says. “We’re that company’s go-to guys – and part of that is due to our equipment. Knowing we have the fleet we do and the people we do, people naturally come to us.”

In some cases, better equipment allows the company to more efficiently allocate manpower. As an example, Nold points to a catch basin cleaning job where the Vac-Con’s reliability enabled him to send one operator and an assistant instead of two operators.

“We know it won’t have (breakdown) issues, so we can just rock and roll,” he notes.


Wow factor attracts employees

Moreover, newer equipment helps Goel attract and retain employees.

“Guys come in here and go, ‘Wow,’” Nold says. “They love having reliable equipment that hasn’t been trashed. One guy told me, ‘You’re not joking around – you’re on a mission.’ And we are.”

Nold also points out that some customers like the fact that Goel doesn’t have to sub out some of the work it’s hired to do.

Overall, the manager says he can’t emphasize enough how valuable the Vac-Cons are to his division.

“They help me keep my people employed, and help me attract and keep quality people,” he says. “They’re the lifeblood of our division.”

And a great source of pain relief for those subcontractor blues.


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