November 15, 2023
During the nearly four decades that the late Mark McGinnis built $15 Sewer & Drain into a well-recognized business in the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area, he consistently reinvested profits into the company and prided himself on embracing advanced technology.
So it seems only fitting that six months after he died unexpectedly of a heart attack in January 2020 that his wife, Valerie McGinnis, who now owns the company, decided to invest about $50,000 in a trailer-mounted, hot-water jetting machine (4,000 psi at up to 10 gpm) made by HotJet USA.
“Mark hadn’t talked about buying one,” McGinnis says. “But then I saw an ad in Cleaner magazine for a HotJet jetter and the thing that jumped out at me was the hot-water aspect. It just made sense that hot water would clean drainlines better.
“We had been looking for a different piece of equipment to bring in because Mark always was big on investing in new equipment. And this fit the bill.”
But it was more than just sentimental reasons that spurred McGinnis to make this considerable investment.
“It has brought us to a different level in drain cleaning,” she explains. “Now we can clean up to 12-inch-diameter drains and do more commercial work. It has opened up a whole new market for us — got us a piece of the drain cleaning pie we weren’t eating before. We could clean 2-, 3- and 4-inch-diameter drains all day long, but when you hit drains filled with sand or slurry, we’d have to call someone else. Plus, if you say you’re a drain cleaning company, but you can only do up to 4-inch lines, how good can you really be?”
The machine also generates significant amounts of revenue. In fact, McGinnis says it paid for itself in about nine months.
As a bonus, HotJet officials flew McGinnis and some key employees out to the company’s production facility in Utah for training.
“HotJet’s customer service and follow-through is amazing,” McGinnis says. “If we get stuck on a job, they’ll walk us through it by phone.”
Moreover, in honor of Mark’s emphasis on employee training, McGinnis held a companywide training session for technicians at a trailer park; she offered to clean a sewer mainline running through the park for free in exchange for the training opportunity.
“We definitely took a gamble on it because if Mark would’ve been here, he would’ve done that,” McGinnis says. “You have to stay on the forefront of technology.”