Third-Generation North Carolina Wastewater Firm Returns to Its Installing Roots

Lentz Wastewater Management brings the family business full circle by adding system installation to a growing repair and drainfield restoration service

Third-Generation North Carolina Wastewater Firm Returns to Its Installing Roots

Jason Lentz operates a Terralift machine. The company used the soil aerator to restore more than 100 drainfields in 2018.

Jarrid Lentz started in business in 2000 doing drainfield restoration and septic system repairs. Five years ago, he added onsite system installation. In doing so, he brought a third-generation family business back to its roots.

Lentz Wastewater Management, in Statesville, North Carolina, has a thriving business restoring drainfields with a Terralift machine and installing and fixing onsite systems in the fast-growing area north of Charlotte and around Lake Norman.

It’s a natural complement to Lentz Septic Tank Service, a pumping business owned by Jarrid’s father, Keith Lentz. The two companies, while separate, share referrals and projects freely. For example, the pumping company can transfer callers inquiring about installation directly to Lentz Wastewater Management.

It’s an ideal arrangement, and the legacy of the family name has certainly helped Jarrid and his wife, Jeanie Lentz, grow their business to seven team members.


The Lentz family enterprise goes back more than 60 years. Roy Lentz Sr. founded a septic system installation company in 1958. His sons Keith and Roy Lentz Jr. launched the pumping business in the 1970s. The elder Lentz retired in the 1980s, ending the installation side.

Jarrid grew up in the pumping business, riding in the trucks to jobs with his dad and uncle. While in school, he worked part time for a plumbing contractor. Later, he enrolled in a plumbing program at the local technical college; he left school to help his father in the pumping business while his uncle spent more than a year recovering from an injury. 

In 2000, at age 24, he started his own Terralift and system repair business. “My dad bought a Terralift machine in 1996, but he didn’t push it because he was focused on was the pumping side,” Jarrid recalls. “I was working for him doing Terralift jobs on weekends and when I wasn’t in school.

“One day I went to him and said, ‘Hey, do you want to sell this thing?’ He said yes, and I took off and ran with it. I bought a mini-excavator and carried it around with the Terralift. I worked for 12 years by myself with no help. In 2015 I bought a bigger excavator and started installing septic systems. We now have a full-time installation crew going.” In 2018 the company did 79 new installs, replacements, expansions or additions; and in the first three quarters of 2019, it did 77.

The field team includes Jason Lentz (Jarrid’s brother), Aaron Stephens and Jerry Wyatt, septic install and repair technicians; Marcos Benitez, crew member; and Brixan Burgess, part-time summer helper. Wyatt also handles fleet and equipment maintenance.  

Many repair jobs come through referrals from the pumping side of the business. “For example, we get a lot of tee replacement jobs from the pumpers,” Jeanie says. “They’ll hand the customer our card, and the customer will call us after the pumpers leave.” In return, Lentz Wastewater Management calls Lentz Septic Tank Service when there’s a need to pump a tank.


The installation business has taken flight in the past two years. The area’s red clay soils can be challenging, but more often the critical issue is finding space for a drainfield on compact lots, especially around Lake Norman.

There, the company relies on what Jarrid calls “50% reduction systems” using materials and designs provided by T & J Panel, headquartered in Statesville. The state Department of Health has approved the technology for drainfields half the size of those required for conventional onsite systems.

“T & J Panel introduced the product back in the 1970s,” Jarrid observes. “The systems use concrete blocks, about 4 feet long and 20 inches tall. We dig a 2-foot-wide trench, install a bed of sand and set the panels vertically on top of the sand. Then we run pipe through the holes in each block, backfill with sand up to the top and plumb the connections all the way back to the septic tank.”

Each line has a clean-out so required flushing can be performed twice a year. The systems can be either gravity flow or pressurized. For gravity systems, the drainfield lines have to be equal in length. For pressurized systems, line length is flexible, enabling systems to conform to odd-shaped lots.

Recently, T & J Panel introduced a horizontal panel that require less depth of suitable soil. “We’re starting to use horizontal panels more, and that has opened up lots that had been shut down for septic systems,” Jarrid says.

Aside from panels, the company installs mainly conventional systems with chamber drainfields (Infiltrator Water Technologies). Jarrid prefers concrete septic tanks (Shoaf Precast Septic Tank) but uses plastic tanks (Infiltrator) where sites are inaccessible to delivery trucks. Pump repair and replacement, installing risers and replacing tees are also part of the workload.


Go-to machines for installation work are a 2019 Kubota KX057-4 excavator and 2016 Kubota SVL75-2 track loader. A 2016 Bobcat E26 rubber-tracked mini-excavator is used mostly on small repair jobs. Vehicles include a 2017 Ford F-550 and 2016 Ford F-450, both with 11-foot Reading service bodies; a 2011 Chevy 2500 HD; and a 2002 Chevy C7500 dump truck.

“I try to keep equipment that’s in good shape so we’re not having to work on it,” Jarrid says. “If a machine starts breaking down and gets worn out, we get rid of it.” The company does its own machine and truck maintenance, mainly because “We’re working so many hours we can’t get them to a place that’s open during the day to get the work done. We do it after hours and on the weekends — whenever we can.”

The Charlotte area is competitive: pumpers and installers are abundant. At least three other companies have Terralift machines. Lentz Wastewater Management stakes it future on quality.

“I’ve worked on repairs; that’s where I started,” Jarrid says. “I see the things you shouldn’t do as an installer. Bedding pipe is one big issue. Installers don’t always bed their pipe correctly, and that’s when it settles and breaks. We fix a lot of those. Then it’s a matter of people just not doing quality work, not gluing their fittings properly.

“On the repair side, we find that contractors have replaced pumps using the wrong size or wrong kinds of pumps, such as using a sump pump or grinder pump in place of an effluent pump. I learn from that. I do things my own way and try to make systems as trouble-free as possible. We use the best materials we can. We use Goulds WE Series effluent pumps. They haven’t changed in 40 years, and they work. I’ve seen their pumps last over 30 years.”


Competing to win also means quality customer care. That starts with Jeanie’s voice on the phone. “They call in and they have a problem,” she says. “Everybody has an emergency. They want somebody who knows how to solve it. If I don’t know the answer, I assure them I will find out.”

Team members in the field are trained to treat customers courteously. They also go the extra mile: If a customer needs a service beyond the onsite system repair, such as removing a tree stump or relocating a pile of soil, they’ll do it for a reasonable extra charge.

Locating septic tanks is a common challenge; many homeowners have no idea where the tank is. Lentz Wastewater Management team members insert a cable into a clean-out at the house and then use a Subsite Electronics UtiliGuard locator to trace the line back to the tank. At that point, they typically install a riser and leave the customer with a diagram on graph paper, showing the property lines and locations of the house, other buildings and treatment system components.

All that helps create good word-of-mouth, which the company augments with increasingly sophisticated marketing. Joshua Mackens, a marketing specialist based in Tennessee, helps the company with its website and with search engine optimization.

Jeanie is active in marketing as well, on top of her duties in financial management, payroll and job scheduling. “Our local newspaper has a Best of Statesville competition every year in different categories,” Jeanie says. “We won Best of Statesville for septic service in the last two years.” She also handles occasional local media advertising, writes posts for the website and posts to social media.

She has come a long way from her profession as a speech pathologist, in which she still works part time: “I used to say there was no way I could work for the family business. It just happened. Two summers ago, Jarrid needed help so I stepped in and it just kind of stuck. I sure do stay busy.”


Everyone at Lentz Wastewater Management is pretty well guaranteed to stay busy. Jarrid’s next big goal is to build a shop and office to replace the rented headquarters. He also wants to hire a team member and launch a maintenance service for T & J Panel systems — there are thousands of them in the area.

Meanwhile, the company is working with the Piedmont Design Associates engineering firm in nearby Mooresville to prepare for installing advanced systems with aerobic treatment units, most notably on small lots with drainfields that can’t be rejuvenated with the Terralift.

As for a fourth generation in the business, there’s the Lentzes’ 12-year-old son, Ashton. “He’ll go to work with Jarrid some days,” Jeanie says. “The guys will send him back and forth to the truck to get supplies.”

Will he take over the business someday? Only time will tell. 

New life for drainfields

Lentz Wastewater Management has employed Terralift machines for many years to restore drainfields that become plugged and no longer function properly.

Drainfields can become clogged when the biomat that grows naturally in the trenches over time becomes too heavy so septic tank effluent can no longer seep into the soil and be treated. The Terralift machine inserts a probe 3 to 6 feet into the ground next to the drainfield lines.

A blast of high-pressure air then fractures the ground; at the same time, styrene plastic beads are forced into the resulting cracks and fissures. These beads keep the cracks open so the liquid can once again drain down into the earth.

Lentz Wastewater Management restored 122 drainfields with its Terralift machine in 2018. “Terralift works well in the soils here,” says Jarrid Lentz, co-owner. “Development is dense around Lake Norman, and on many lots there isn’t room for a replacement drainfield.”

Terralift crew members Jason Lentz and Aaron Stephens travel with a Bobcat E26 rubber-tracked mini-excavator for making ancillary repairs, such as digging up and replacing distribution boxes and installing risers on septic tanks.

A typical Terralift job takes three to six hours, and Jarrid Lentz has seen some rejuvenations over the last 20 years or more. The company is now on its third Terralift machine (a 2015 model).


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