The Onsite Septic Industry: In Your Words

The Onsite Septic Industry: In Your Words

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The pages of Onsite Installer are filled with septic design and maintenance tips, detailed profiles of system installations, and new products and equipment. But the best feature of the magazine is letting you — the installers, service provides and inspectors — share your stories.

Reading back over the profiles from the 2017 issues, it’s easy to tell that you take pride in what you do and you’re good at it, too. Here’s a look at how the featured owners approach their work every day, in their own words. (Click the links to revisit each company’s profile.)


“Success in any business is pretty much based on doing what you say you’re going to do and being honest and straight-up with customers. As long as you adhere to that, you can be successful in anything.”
– Courtney Stephenson, Atlantic On Site Services

“When you are passionate about a subject and know it backward and forward, explaining it and answering questions is second nature. Sharing knowledge and helping people to understand are the biggest things we can do to extend the lives of their onsite systems.”
– Dylan Stewart, Stewart’s Septic Services

“I’ve had customers call who lived a good distance away. If you can talk them through a problem, many are able to fix it themselves. You save them a service call charge and maintain a good relationship with the customer. When that customer encounters a problem he cannot handle, he’ll think of us.”
– Gerry Knoop with his wife, Amy, Denby Environmental Services

“Before we do anything, before we put anything on paper, we’ll go out to the site, look at it, and toss ideas around. When the plan comes out of engineering, we know it will work because we’ve worked out the issues beforehand. Compare that to some engineers who draw plans first, and then it is on people in the field to find out where the problems are.”
– Nick Herrera, NH Construction

“I learned the onsite business at a young age, and I always liked to design and install. It isn’t like digging a basement, putting in a road or grading a yard. It’s parts and pieces that you put together, and you’re helping the environment. I love being able to help people who have failing systems.”
– George Schooley, Legacy Septic & Excavation

“Our industry was way too quick to decide that a 20-year-old system, for instance, needed to be replaced. In a previous job, I saw that homeowners often didn’t need a new drainfield, but I felt that no one was taking time to figure out what was needed. There was a piece missing in the equation: Figure out what the problem is before deciding on a solution. So I founded a company that specializes in restoration and rejuvenation and that installs new systems only when all other options are exhausted.”
– Andrew Gunia with his son, Joshua, A Advanced Septic & Construction Services

“Education is key. I visit sites with clients more than once to ensure they understand what components are required, where they will go, and what can be moved during the design phase.” 
– Tim Rozendaal, Norm Rozendaal Tiling

“As my experience grew, I came in contact with more and more engineers and developers who needed more complex systems in order to build a house, a duplex or an apartment building. I learned by doing. If a permit was written and called for an advanced system, I call up the manufacturer and say, ‘Look, I’m going to be putting in one of your systems.’ They’d come on site and help on the first one. The more I did, the more I learned. I also proved that I was trustworthy and would do the job right.”
– Courtney Stephenson, Atlantic On Site Services

“We have expanded quite a bit, but we don’t depend only on growth. Our goal is growth and strength — being stronger within the niches we have developed so far. What it comes down to is you have to be ready to evolve with the opportunities that come before you.”
– Charlie Fisher with co-owners Dan Zamastil and Pat Zamastil, Ken-Way Excavating

“New construction is not a challenge at all. It’s all been laid out for you. It’s all on paper. The repair work is what I love doing. Anything that’s challenging, where somebody says it can’t be done, we can do it.”
– George Schooley, Legacy Septic & Excavation

“People who will do the pumping right — the way we want — they’re hard to find. ... But our business keeps growing. Our name is good, especially when customers find out Lorraine and I are still operating out of the office. We get letters and calls from our customers who tell us our crews and children treat them with such respect that they’ll be our customers for life.”
– Walt McKim with his wife and co-owner, Lorraine, McKim Septic

“We get calls from people who heard about our work from another customer and want us to work for them. In a way, it’s not difficult to get to this point. You do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t tell the customer you’ll dig a stump and then leave without doing it because the customer will remember that you didn’t follow through.” 
– Dain Mann, NISS Excavation

“What we do is a lot like today’s surgeries. The doctor goes in at one location and all you see is a few incisions. My favorite phone calls are from customers who say, ‘I thought you were going to fix my drainfield today, but it looks like nobody was here.’ We even take photos of the work if the customer isn’t home while we’re working so we can prove we were there. At noon, a yard might look like a bomb went off, but by 4:30 p.m., you’d never know we were there.”
– Andrew Gunia, A Advanced Septic & Construction Services


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