Follow These Tips for Customers Who Have the Greatest Expectations

Delaware Valley Septic, Sewer & Storm takes measures to install quality systems with minimal site disturbance for high-value homes in southeast Pennsylvania

Follow These Tips for Customers Who Have the Greatest Expectations

Eliud Barillas Anaya rakes out a subsurface bed consisting of 2 feet of sand and 1 foot of crushed stone and perforated pipe. The excavator is a Komatsu PC35. (Photo courtesy of Delaware Valley Septic, Sewer & Storm)

For Delaware Valley Septic, Sewer & Storm, a typical onsite system installation serves a home with five to eight bedrooms, plus ancillary structures, often with a pool and tennis court, usually with elaborate and costly landscaping.

That means large systems, of course, but also meticulous care for the properties. High-income customers expect quality work, and that includes as little disturbance to sites as possible.

“We are in a very affluent area where people expect the best service and perfect landscaping after installation and repair work,” says T.J. Dell’Arciprete, equal partner in the business with brother-in-law David DiGregorio. “They’re looking for top-notch service for the most cost-effective price.”

The two bought the business in 2014 from David DiGregorio’s father, Ron DiGregorio, but they’ve actually operated it since 2005. Besides installations, the company does brisk business in system inspections, tank pumping, pipe inspection, waterjetting and stormwater basin testing and construction.

Working out of Springfield, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia and serving Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties, the company has expanded rapidly. It tripled in size from 2005 to 2014 and since then has seen 20 percent growth per year. The partners expect that to continue in 2019.


Delaware Valley serves an area known for excellence in education: It is home to prestigious private K-12 schools and universities, and its public school systems rank among the best in the United States. Homes worth a million dollars and much more are common, and many are Delaware Valley customers for replacement septic systems or stormwater retention basins.  

Serving those customers takes an exceptional level of care. Dell’Arciprete observes, “When we do an install, we’re back at people’s houses, touching things up, filling in soil when excavations settle or getting grass professionals in to treat the final landscapes. We do whatever is necessary to make sure the product on top of the ground is just as satisfactory as what’s under the ground.”

About 75 percent of the company’s installs are replacement systems. That often means working in tight quarters, avoiding sprinkler systems, dog fencing, botanical beds and much more. “We want our clients disturbed as little as possible,” Dell’Arciprete says. “Sometimes we use track matting. When we do deep holes, we put all the soil on a mat and then put it back.  

“Most times, clients don’t realize how invasive installation and repair work will actually be. Seeing a design on paper is a lot different than the reality of having your property damaged by all the earth-moving work required to complete a job. We tell our clients their property will look like a bomb hit it for about a week, but then it will all be restored the following week.”

David DiGregorio recalls an installation that represents the kind of challenges the company faces. “The home was on a huge hill and they had a system that had been surfacing for months,” he says. “Another contractor had been hired to provide a solution. They proposed a drip system with two zones in front and two zones on the side.

“We were hired as a consultant. We proposed putting everything upgradient. We changed the design and did new soil morphology. We designed a system that put everything in one spot.” The four-zone drip system included 3,500 linear feet of drip tubing, installed on a steep slope. 

“The tubing installation took three days. Because of shallow rock, a lot of the work had to be done by hand. They had a huge swimming pool and probably a half-million-dollar landscaping bed. We had a small area to get into with our delivery lines and a small area to drop in our tanks.

“As soon as the install was done, the client wanted everything sodded immediately. We ordered in 6,000 square feet of sod. The amazing part was that after three weeks of challenging work, when we were done, it looked like we had never been on the property.”


Sensitivity to owners’ properties isn’t the only challenge of building systems for large homes. The systems themselves need to be much larger than for the typical rural or suburban dwelling. Health Department regulations call for sizing systems based on the number of bedrooms. For Delaware Valley that means installing 1,200- to 1,600-square-foot drainfields for five- to eight-bedroom estates.

In addition, Dell’Arciprete says, “Every time they have a separate dwelling that could be used as an apartment, we have to count that as another three-bedroom structure. Many of our clients have au pair suites, in-law quarters, pool houses with apartments on the top and garages with offices on top. If it’s separated from the home, it requires the three-bedroom minimum.

“We can tie them all into the same system, but the square footage of the drainfield and the size of the septic tank have to be increased accordingly.” The typical installation includes two 1,000-gallon precast concrete septic tanks in series; some systems have three tanks, when pumps are required.

Delaware Valley installs about half conventional and half advanced treatment systems. For aerobic treatment units, the company relies on Jet Inc. systems. Other advanced systems use prefabricated geotextile sand filters (Eljen), designed to provide passive advanced treatment for residential and commercial applications.  

“We’ve also installed quite a few Ecoflo Coco peat filters (Premier Tech Aqua) recently for absorption area reductions and at-grade system requirements,” Dell’Arciprete says. “They are great because now the tanks come with the media already installed and the pumps are inside the component, eliminating the need for another tank and lift pump.”


In day-to-day life, DiGregorio spends much of his time interacting with customers on site, while Dell’Arciprete handles the office with wife and office manager Rachel. Two-person teams go on inspections; up to three installation crews can be at work at any given time.

The Delaware Valley team includes Jim Softchin and Rafael Barillas Anaya, field supervisors; Eliud Barillas Anaya, Mike Springer and Nestor Barillas Anaya, laborers; and Korey Cook, pump truck operator.

The company owns two equipment trailers (Towmaster and Bri-Mar), a dump truck (Mack), pickup trucks (2015 Chevrolet Silverado and two 2017 Dodge Ram 3500s) and a service van (2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500) with Kargo Master upfit.

The go-to machines are two Komatsu PC35 rubber-tracked excavators (2014 and 2017) with an auger attachment and a 2018 Takeuchi TL8 tracked skid-steer with a RockHound attachment.

“We used to run everything with backhoes,” DiGregorio says. “But with the excavators, it’s much easier to work in tighter spaces. We need an opening 6 feet wide to get into the site with them, and they weigh about 8,000 pounds.” A larger Komatsu PC138 excavator is rented for larger septic systems and stormwater work.

Septic system pumping has become a major revenue source. The company used to outsource its pumping service to another contractor but brought it in-house in 2014. Now Cook and a 2007 Mack vacuum truck with a 4,000-gallon steel tank (Presvac Systems) and (National Vacuum Equipment Challenger 4307) vacuum blower pump 1,200 tanks per year. That includes servicing customers on holding tanks or with failing systems that need pumping as often as every one or two weeks.


The stormwater side of the business includes double-ring infiltrometer testing (similar to perc testing) for retention basins and excavating for those basins. “In our area, if you put in a pool or patio or an addition on your house, you have to control your runoff,” Dell’Arciprete says. “For years, everyone ignored stormwater and a lot of runoff damage had been occurring on neighboring properties near streams and water reservoirs. Now the pendulum has swung to the opposite side.”

DiGregorio adds, “We worked on a brand-new $2 million, 5,500-square-foot home. Every drop of water, from the roof and driveways and all the impervious surfaces is captured in inlets and downspouts and goes into a basin 90 feet long, 20 feet wide and 8 feet deep.”

Another line of work is pipe inspection and cleaning. The company uses RIDGID push cameras with cables 85 to 200 feet long for pipes 1.5 to 6 inches. For cleaning, the company deploys a Spartan Tool Warrior 4,000 psi/20 gpm trailer-mounted jetter and a Spartan 717 Electric Mini Jet (2,700 psi/4 gpm). Both use an assortment of Warthog nozzles (StoneAge).

While the business grows, the partners plan to spend more time building an office infrastructure able to support further expansion. That includes an emphasis on marketing.

“We just invested about $10,000 in branding,” Dell’Arciprete says. “All our trucks look the same and carry our new logo. We have new uniforms, and we’ve ordered winter gear. On streets where half of the clients are with us already, we’re marketing to potential new clients with postcards and (email software program) Constant Contact.

“This is also important to our annual maintenance clients because it helps us schedule efficiently. We drive down prices by going from house to house on the same street on the same day or week, depending on the number of homes to be serviced. That way we’re not running to the same street sporadically throughout the course of a year.

“We just want to do everything as best as possible, and if we don’t, we’ll fix it. There’s nothing we can’t do or nothing we can’t fix.”

Best friends first

Ron DiGregorio founded Delaware Valley Septic, Sewer & Storm in 1986. It is still very much in the family. DiGregorio’s son David DiGregorio bought the business in 2014 with T.J. Dell’Arciprete.

Best friends since high school, DiGregorio and Dell’Arciprete worked for the company during summers. DiGregorio left to earn a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Penn State University and took a job in a commercial kitchen. Dell’Arciprete studied at what he calls “the school of hard knocks” and built a career in telecommunications sales.

“In 2005 my dad developed a brain tumor,” DiGregorio recalls. “When my dad got sick, we both quit our jobs and came back to help out.”

Dell’Arciprete adds, “It’s the nature of what families do. Families step in and just get it done. I’ve known David since I was 16. I married his sister, and I love his family so much. We’re best friends first, brothers-in-law second and business partners third.” Both are state-certified as Sewage Enforcement Officers.

With DiGregorio’s knowledge of the business built on lessons from his father and Dell’Arciprete’s sales training and experience, the two took off on a fast growth trajectory. “We’re both good with people,” Dell’Arciprete says. “We’re hospitable. We want to do what’s best for our clients and our company — we’ve always thought and felt that way. 

“David and I have a dynamic relationship. It basically can’t be broken. I trust him implicitly, he trusts me implicitly and it works. We have different personalities, and that works, too. Some customers want to deal with me; I’m a more aggressive personality. Some like to deal with David because he’s more, ‘I’ll take care of you.’ It’s a good fit all the way around.”

A touch of technology

Wi-Fi in septic systems? It’s a coming thing for certain affluent customers of Delaware Valley Septic, Sewer & Storm. Some customers have septic tanks with alarms that are being triggered because of rainfall infiltration; others are on holding tanks that need regular and frequent pumping.

“We’re installing Wi-Fi and Mi-Fi connections and using their routers to email us when there is an alarm condition,” says partner David DiGregorio. “The alarms are silenced. When the alarm is triggered, we receive an email and send the pump truck without any phone calls or other interactions.

“We’re going to put them in wherever we have clients who are struggling with failing systems. We have an area near us that is being converted to sewer, and about 1,000 homeowners are waiting for the sewer line to come in. Some are in dire distress situations where we pump every other week. We’re going to put the Wi-Fi connections in wherever someone needs to get pumped before the liquid rises to the level of the sewer line and causes a backup.”


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