For both contractors and municipalities, there’s a lot that goes into running a successful wastewater maintenance operation. The precarious work requires vigor, patience and skill. It requires planning, organization and solutions-based mindsets. And it requires capable, productive equipment. Above all else, a successful wastewater operation needs a loyal team that’s committed to the work.
Many of our customers, from business owners to department supervisors, credit much of their success to those working day in and day out to keep these essential services running smoothly.
Family-owned contracting company Houston & Harris first opened its doors 33 years ago in Southern California. While many things have changed over three decades of business—including new technologies to complete the work—its core mission and family-centric character have remained the same.
Today, Brad Houston, operations assistant, works alongside his dad, Larry Houston, operations manager. Larry’s late father helped found the business in June of 1988; the Houstons later bought the entirety of the company outright.
It’s the team’s long-term experience that keeps the company successful, Brad says.
“Customers turn to us to figure out a solution to a problem that is maybe out of the traditional use of what we have,” he says. “How can we use our skillset and our  years of experience to find another angle? I think that’s what sets us apart a little bit, is that our operators have a lot of longevity. We have people who have been with us for 20 plus years.”
President of Indiana-based Mason Private Locating, Jake Mason has been surrounded by this type of work since he was a child.
His father, Mark Mason, started a private utility locating company and owned it for more than 20 years before selling it in the fall of 2016. Jake followed in his father’s footsteps, working alongside him for years before deciding to venture out on his own. After he opened Mason Private Locating in 2019, several of Jake’s family members and former employees from the previous company jumped on board, too.
“Most of our teammates here have 15-plus years of experience with utility locating,” he says. “We have a lot of family here, and we also have a lot of veterans who have worked with us for many years who we consider family. That loyalty transcends to our customers, too. They are our partners in protecting their underground facilities, and we want to make sure we do right by them.”
Over the years, Ironhouse Sanitary District in the San Francisco Bay area has seen a lot of change. It’s watched small communities turn into incorporated cities, added nearby communities to its own service area, and seen substantial growth across the region.
It’s been a lot of adjustment and adaptation, but having a loyal, hardworking team has served the District and its community well.
“It’s a really great group of people here who are always up for the challenge and finding a solution,” says Ian Robertson, the District’s CCTV operator. “It’s a great district to work for and a phenomenal team to be a part of that adapts to meet growing needs.”
In just three years, Florida-based private contracting company, Atlantic Pipe Services, turned its two-person team to a staff of 64. President of the company, Allan Cagle, says that growth and success can be attributed to two things: investing in high-performance equipment and a crew selectively hired to align with their vision.
“We’ve been selective about building our team and how they operate, from personnel in the field, to marketing, to office staff,” he says. “One thing I’ve prioritized is trying to keep the same operators on the same piece of equipment, which gives them a sense of pride with their equipment and their truck and it also provides me accountability. It takes all of us to make this thing work—to operate successfully and to grow like we have.”
Whether a wastewater team is comprised of a handful of personnel or hundreds, loyalty and dependability can make all the difference in an essential industry. What does your team do to encourage longevity among employees? Read more stories from our customers and their experiences in the industry: