About L W Morgridge & Son, Inc. Septic Service in Eliot, Maine
Pool Water Specialist
In 1998, when William Morgridge decided for health reasons to downsize the business his father had founded, he reduced the workforce from 30 to two and ultimately redirected the entire operation.
Morgridge, dealing with a heart condition, sold off most of the inventory, keeping two vacuum trucks and two tank trucks to haul swimming pool water. The heart problem was repaired with surgery in 2004. Morgridge then had a new opportunity to shape the company, L.W. Morgridge & Son Inc
. of Eliot, Maine
, to fit the market and take advantage of new technology.
Morgridge and his wife Raymah sought out new and underserved niches in their area. In particular, the purchase of a water jetter gave them a new and valuable service to offer a client list that has since grown to more than 6,000.
The company now offers a diverse array of services in a 20-mile radius around its home base. With a commitment to around-the-clock service, the company has gained a solid reputation and a strong growth position in a competitive market.
L.W. Morgridge & Son, founded by Leon W. Morgridge in 1948, started as an excavating business with all the rolling inventory and large complement of drivers and laborers that entails. William now runs a much smaller and refocused company with five employees, and the elder Morgridge, 89, still contributes when he can.
The addition of the water jetter, from Cam Spray, has been a key to the company's growth for the past four years. The winter of 2003-2004 in the area was extremely cold, and because little snow fell, frost penetrated 5- to 6-feet-deep in the ground.
“We were using jackhammers where necessary to uncover frozen lines and septic tanks
,” William Morgridge says. He considered what equipment he would need at any time of day or night to handle customers' problems, without resorting to digging. A jetter was an obvious choice for many situations.
“We had some tremendous contractors to call on, but we found it difficult to find someone to come out with a jetter when we needed to thaw a line in the middle of the night,” Morgridge says. “Plus those we could call had their own customers to take care of.“
Most jetters are exposed to the weather. I started looking that spring for a way to go out in any condition. It doesn't matter who the customer is – a hotel, hospital or residence. They don't want to hear, ‘We'll see you in the morning,' all because I couldn't find a subcontractor and didn't have the equipment myself.”
Morgridge called on Cam Spray looking for a completely enclosed and insulated jetter that he could use in cold weather. He had a unit within a few weeks. The jetter, housed in an Avalon service trailer, is a Model SK251B that delivers 11 gpm at 3,200 psi, either hot or cold water. It carries a 400-gallon tank and two hoses: 250 feet for hot and 500 feet for cold.
His first thought when it was delivered: “We've spent thousands on this. We sure hope it flies.” Within two weeks, he knew he had made a good decision. The unit paid for itself in the first year. “We take that jetter behind a pickup truck on many jobs,” Morgridge says. “Now we show up for a job with everything. If we need a plumber or electrician we have a subcontractor, Michael Dupuis, who shares our philosophy and rents space in our building.
”An important part of the business is building and maintaining pump stations
. “That is another job where the jetter comes in,” Morgridge says. “When we need to put a man in a big pump station for any reason, we can use the jetter before he goes into the tank, and it is totally pressure-washed and sanitized. Our man is much safer, and it's easier to do the work.
”The Morgridge team uses the jetter on a large percentage of jobs. Other equipment includes a Saturn II camera from Aries Industries Inc. and two SeeSnake cameras from RIDGID. Some 75 percent of the work is residential. Other accounts include hotels, trailer parks, hospitals and country clubs.
With modern equipment and high-quality 24/7 service, the company quickly built a reputation. In emergencies, Morgridge often hears customers say, “‘We can't believe you're here so quickly.'”
He observes, “People know that when they call us, something is going to happen. You can call me at 3 a.m. and I'll answer the phone. I carry a pager. I don't delegate that. I can best determine what can wait until morning. I don't need a technician to do that for me." When the alarm does sound, day or night, a crew responds with everything. Commercial customers like hotels and hospitals need immediate response when there is a problem, and because Morgridge is located in a tourist area, there are many such customers.
“If a hotel kitchen is backing up, or if a major pump station is going into alarm, any response over 30 minutes is unacceptable,” Morgridge says. “Within 30 minutes we're there, and our subcontractor is there or on the way. My men will have all the equipment and our vacuum truck will be in route, no matter what time of day. Almost every hotel has at least one pump station. Hospitals will have one pump station and sometimes more.”
Like many in the industry, Morgridge carefully plans for growth. While he intends to add a larger van better suited to carrying equipment, he has no plans to expand into specialties such as trenchless repair.
“If a problem comes up, if we televise and jet a line for a customer and find that it needs to be lined, I will call someone else to do the work,” he says. “If I had sons, or if I was younger, I would do that. But I have phenomenal people I can call to provide those services.
”Morgridge counts his subcontractor as essential to the company, but he also depends on two technicians who are fully trained on the equipment. He considers training essential and offers it regularly. His headquarters recently hosted a class on confined-space entry. Confined-space certification is essential to the work the company does.
Morgridge believes that with its equipment, its full-time employees and its steady subcontractor, the business is well-positioned to serve customers. “We have always felt that if you are going out in the community, sell something that very few people have,” he says. “We now have and can offer 24/7 full service to our customers. Full service is our niche.”
Reprinted with permission from Cole Publishing
To learn more about how LW Morgridge & Sons, Inc. will service your septic tank, call our office in Eliot, ME at 207-439-1250.