Encountering ‘Hurdles’ in The Field and ‘Why:’ The Pillars of CIPP Training
Jim Holcomb, owner of Roto-Co Inc. (the largest Roto-Rooter franchise in the United States) made the strategic decision to expand the company’s trenchless business line in the markets where it was most needed. One of those regions is Salinas, California.
Previously, Roto-Co had sub-contracted CIPP lining projects to a SoCal CIPP contractor, but based on the growing demand for lateral repairs that eliminate the need to dig and replace, Holcomb identified this opportunity as a great way to expand his business and better serve his customers by Roto-Co performing the CIPP work themselves.
First step of the expansion was purchasing two CIPP systems with supporting liners, resin and the tools from MaxLiner USA. “The decision to work with MaxLiner was based on the success record we have had in the past with them training and setting our CIPP teams up in some of our other locations like Sacramento and Palm Springs,” said Holcomb. “My vice president of operations Mike Jennings led those efforts, and quite frankly, our crews took to it right away and are kicking butt.”
Next step, training. Three days of training for the Salinas team commenced this past July. “Prior to [MaxLiner USA technical services manager] Chad Miller arriving, he helped us a lot with the prep work,” said Jennings. “He helped our branch manager in Salinas determine what additional tools he would need and instructed him on how to set up the box van for lining to ensure we were prepared and ready for training. He also helped us to identify which jobs were the best candidates for training the crew. We reached out to our customers ahead of time, informing them that we were training and would have a larger than average crew on their properties.”
Following MaxLiner’s recommended training schedule, Day 1 began at Roto-Co’s shop in a controlled environment. There, the team became familiar with the equipment, safety precautions and the processes of properly wetting out, inverting and correctly curing liners. By the end of the day, the crew performed multiple practice inversions with the LinerGun followed by successfully building and installing a liner and provided one final checklist for tools and supplies needed for their live install.
“The best way to learn is when things don’t go smoothly during training,” says Miller. “I was happy we encountered several small hurdles to overcome – from preparation to equipment and a deeper than expected pipe depth once we got to the jobsite.
“Our first live installation was for a home about to go on the market which had a partially new sewer line installed. Prior to selling, the home must pass a sewer inspection, hence the reason for the initial call-out. The line from the house to the clean-out was new, but from just past the clean-out to the city main the original clay pipe remained. The existing sewer ran under the newly poured concrete sidewalk and approach towards the city main, located below the middle of the street. Inspection verified the 4-in. VCP was partially collapsed with a negative offset. This would be the ideal location for an open-cut repair and an access point for the liners — shooting one up toward the new PVC pipe and clean out, and the other toward the city connection beneath the road. While digging, the excavation crew exposed an unmarked water main and temporarily made a repair the day before we arrived on site. Fortunately for the property owner, a liner could be used instead of a very costly, open-trench, full pipe replacement while eliminating the risk of working along the water main, expediting the repair time so the home could be on the market quickly. In addition, the pipe was deeper than anticipated, so we created a ‘guide tube’ to install the liners and ensure they’d have the correct invert for reconnecting the pipes – many challenges which resulted in many teachable moments.”
“Being able to shoot two liners in one day was great. It reinforced the classroom training since we did so many repetitive steps. We saw an increase in efficiency throughout the day, and it was great to watch Chad’s method for troubleshooting,” said Jennings.
Apply the Why
Miller continued, “When I explain to technicians (regardless of their role or experience) or the sales team, the importance of each step of the lining process, the reason for the order of each step, as well as what a liner can and cannot do, in turn they are able to understand and better explain to their customers the reason CIPP is the right solution. This explanation up front not only helps close a sale, but more importantly, sets the right expectations from the start. The customer is clear on why certain steps are necessary, they know what to expect from the lining process and how long it will take. In return, the salesperson responsible for stage one (qualifying the job) can communicate with the tech(s) accountable for stage two — cleaning/preparing the pipe and creating/identifying an access point. This way, everyone involved in the project knows what goes into executing a lining job, the majority of jobsite prep is done correctly, and the lining crew can efficiently begin their tasks upon arrival.
“Lastly, the ‘why’ helps the lining crew fully understand the whole picture — how to safely set up a jobsite, where to stage the equipment and when it’s safe to start mixing the resin. Understanding why each step hinges on the next provides foresight to apply each step without memorization. For example, if using curing equipment, such as heat or LED, that hasn’t been tested before the resin is introduced — to later find out the equipment isn’t operating correctly, you might lose the liner. I stress the importance of having all the airlines, power cords, and hoses meticulously organized before we start the process. These checks and balances provide extra time to think through any challenges that may arise so the project can be aborted before the crew is too far along into the process. Result? Safe jobsite, all equipment operational, every tech understanding their role and each step flowing into the next successful install.”
“The MaxLiner support continues way beyond the training,” concluded Holcomb. “Our branch managers received an analysis that detailed which of our technicians are the strongest, where there are inefficiencies and opportunities for additional training. Certified installers (CI) and the branches are on file with MaxLiner. Additional training is supported in the field or at MaxLiner’s training facility in Martinsville, Virginia. With the MaxLiner Mobile App our CI’s are able to record installation logs with the customer’s information, by job – accessible anytime from anywhere. Providing quality CIPP installations using the MaxLiner system not only helps our company grow, but it provides an excellent trenchless rehabilitation solution to our customers, while helping our techs continually improve their skills.”