Poised for Growth – Utah Drain Cleaner Tackles Roots, Wipes and Locates with Precision

After years of working in the plumbing services end of the industry, Tyler Webb saw a need to pivot Webb’s Select-A-Service to focus solely on drain cleaning and septic tank pumping.

That decision came about 12 years ago when Tyler took over the family company from his dad Les Webb, noting that he was always interested in the technological aspects of drain cleaning — cameras, jetters and cutters vs. the tape measures, pipe wrenches and channel lock pliers of plumbing services.

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Based in Altonah, Utah, an unincorporated community about 87 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Webb’s Select-A-Service has been in operation —and a part of the Webb family — for nearly 45 years. With the addition of drain cleaning 12 years ago and septic services seven years ago, the company now covers the Uinta Basin in Utah and occasionally heads as far east as Colorado. Today, the company is Tyler and Les, Tyler’s wife Cindy and his son Hunter.

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cross bore in the sewer line.

Tyler Webb found a cross bore in this sewer line. Cross bores are a common find he says.

“When we started drain cleaning, I went through the region and spoke to all of the local licensed plumbers to let them know we were coming to town to handle the drain cleaning jobs,” Tyler Webb says. “I wanted them to know we were there to work with them and not compete with them. They were happy that they didn’t have to do that [drain cleaning] anymore.”

Reaching out to the plumbers worked out better than the Webbs could have imagined with the phone ringing almost instantly with steady work. According to Webb, the company has grown to become the go-to drain cleaning company in that portion of the state.

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“We are there to handle a specific item, and it’s been successful. I like the equipment and tools and the in-and-out aspect of this job,” Webb says. “I like the aspect of being the hero four times a day.”

While this growth can be attributed to the company’s specialized focus in the region, Webb also notes that it is because they’ve added the right equipment and he and his father have combined, more than 60 years of plumbing know-how. And Tyler’s son Hunter Webb, 20, has joined the company and will help usher in its next era of growth.

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Specialized Equipment

That specialized equipment includes two box trucks outfitted with HotJet USA jetting equipment, Warthog and USB nozzles, and MyTana inspection cameras and cable machines. “On average, we clean five to six residences a day and some weeks we’ll work two or three days on a municipal system,” Webb says. This amounts to cleaning and televising anywhere from 200 to 800 ft of sewer line each day, in addition to its septic services, which keeps the three-man team busy.

Utah drain cleaner

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What does the Webb’s Select-A-Service team see daily? A lot of Orangeburg and terracotta pipe that is filled with roots and if it’s not roots it is “flushable” wipes. These are generally older systems, but Webb says that they spend almost as much time working on newer systems because of install errors.

“We’re in the desert of Utah, so if there is a crack in the pipe, the roots will find their way to water,” Webb says. “And the flushable wipes are a huge hit for us. Some houses don’t even have toilet paper, just flushable wipes. You tell them and tell them, but it never changes. That is the No. 1 call and it’s a self-inflicted problem.”

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To help slog through the blockages, Webb relies on the HotJet equipment almost exclusively over a more typical cable machine.

“Our cameras, and the HotJet equipment are the tools we use the most each day. We’ve adapted different ways of using the HotJet equipment. You don’t have the back-breaking weight of a sewer cleaning machine because the jetter is just a hose,” Webb says. “We’ve adapted ways to bring it into the home sanitarily and use it on most of our jobs. And, we’ve adapted it to not flood the house or blow the toilets.”

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Equipment Decisions

While Webb acknowledges that there are several good jetter companies, he went with HotJet for two reasons. The first is that the equipment is easy for him and his crew to work on if a problem crops up in the field, and secondly, if the problem is beyond an in-field fix, HotJet USA’s headquarters are in Utah, about a three-hour drive from Altonah.

Tyler Webb

Tyler Webb, owner Webb’s Select-A-Service pulled these roots out of a sewer. He says he’s found root bundles that are 60 ft long.

Webb opted for the box trucks vs. an open trailer because in the winter months it can get extremely cold and he can regulate the temperature in the box, so his lines don’t freeze. He notes that this is important because if the lines freeze, the time spent thawing before getting to work is money gone.

And the cameras from MyTana are just as important as the jetting trucks. “You’ve heard it before. It’s easier to show a customer their problem as opposed to explaining it to them,” Webb says. “When we leave, the customer understands what is going on. Cameras, by far, have made our jobs easier and improved our communications with the customer.”

And it goes beyond showing the customer what is wrong, it helps improve the service that Webb can offer because he can save the camera data in a file and easily reference it, if he returns to that customer, or finds another customer who has a similar problem.

“We’ve worked with MyTana since my dad owned the company. We run hundreds of feet of camera each day and have found their equipment to be reliable and their people to be easily accessible if we have a problem,” Webb says. “Overall, I would say we have really good vendors and that is super important. I don’t think we could operate without them. They are part of the team. If I could call them employees, I would.”

Webb knows the importance of having the newest technologies, but he also knows the importance of researching the equipment before he jumps into it. “We don’t buy everything available on the market, we stay with what works for us and investigate the new before making a purchase,” Webb says. “Our business is run in the black, we don’t go into debt to buy new equipment. That is why we do the in-depth research, to make sure that the technology will have a place in our toolbox.”

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Utah drain cleaner

With his son Hunter now in the family business, what does the future hold for Webb’s Select-A-Service? Hunter has his eyes on adding mainline camera work and vac trucks to the Webb’s roster of offerings.

“Mainly what he [Hunter] wanted to be at the [2020] WWETT Show for, was to look at mainline cameras for larger pipes and larger vac trucks,” Webb says. “I could see him looking way out there to major big investments. I think what’s coming in the future excites him.”

Mike Kezdi is managing editor of Pipe Cleaning PRO.

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