Saving the Day
Truax Corporation keeps pipelines, storm drains flowing
The team at Truax Corporation may not wear capes or have superhuman powers, but they are considered heroes by many. When an emergency call comes in to Office Manager Maria Gerrior, people are in desperate straits. “Something might be blocking a sewer line and things are backing up quickly,” she says. Maria assesses the emergency and begins juggling the day’s schedule to get technicians deployed as quickly as possible.
Once on-site, technicians may choose to get a clearer picture of the blockage. A closed-circuit TV (CCTV), mounted on top of a wheeled crawler, can inspect a pipeline, sewer line or drain from 6 inches on up to 42 inches in diameter. The camera pans, tilts and zooms in to give technicians a good understanding of the problem.
“A blockage can be caused by a root, a cracked pipe, corrosion or deterioration over time,” explains President Lloyd M. Truax. Once technicians understand the problem, they can devise a solution and make the necessary repairs to get the line flowing once again.
“We call these our hero jobs,” Lloyd says. “People are always happy when we restore service.”
Headquartered in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, Truax Corporation has been rescuing residential, commercial and municipal customers from blocked drains and lines for more than 60 years. Services include inspection, cleaning and maintenance of storm drains, culverts, sewer lines and other pipes; hydro jetting to clear pipelines; CCTV inspection; vacuum and hydro-excavation; manhole inspection; and pipeline repairs using lateral lining technology.
The company serves customers throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. “We go anywhere within three hours of our office,” Lloyd says. With as many as 18 employees during the peak season, the team completes up to 700 jobs a year, staying busy from March through December, depending on the weather. “If we can work through the winter, we do. Otherwise, we shutter the business and focus on equipment maintenance and repairs during the snowiest months,” he says.
Getting a Clear Picture
According to Lloyd, a job can be as small as cleaning a single storm drain or as large as a multiyear project with thousands of drains.
For a city in Massachusetts, Truax Corporation undertook a six-year maintenance project on 600,000 feet of sewer lines. “We were charged with cleaning and inspecting the lines,” Lloyd says. A two-man crew was deployed full time at the site. The team worked closely with the city’s engineer and project manager to coordinate inspection and cleaning services with traffic control. “The city needed to shut down the streets and redirect traffic where our crew was working each day,” he says.
The team would start by cleaning the line—approximately 1,500 feet each day. Afterward, technicians would run the CCTV system to scan for cracks, corrosion and deterioration. “The city still has some pipes in use from the 1800s,” Lloyd says. “We ran the camera system through pipes made of clay, PVC, cast iron and even brick.” He notes that just because a sewer line was built in the 1800s doesn’t mean it’s bound for failure. “The craftsmanship back then was top-notch.” Another project had the crew working days and nights on Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. “This was supposed to be a one-month project, but we were there for five months through the worst of the winter season,” Lloyd says. The team was called on to vacuum up the slurry produced during an underwater drilling project. “Block Island is powered by five windmills that sit out in the ocean. Contractors had to drill and run a new, larger pipeline that could hold additional fiber optic cable from the land to the windmills’ junction box that sits on the ocean floor,” he says.
The crew of four stayed on-site in a rented house, working seven days a week. “Two technicians would man the vacuum truck during the day and two at night,” Lloyd says. Getting on and off the island was a challenge. “Block Island is small, and the ferry that serves it can only hold so many big trucks.” More than 130 crew members from several different companies, including Truax Corporation, weathered several large winter storms that came with 40 mph winds. “Conditions were tough out there. Plus, we’d never worked with a drilling rig before. There were a lot of different personalities that our guys had to learn to work with, but it was a good job.”
While most projects involve working on storm drains and sewer pipes in cities and towns, the team at Truax Corporation keeps lines flowing in rural locations as well. “We maintain the lines for several large dairy farms in Connecticut,” Lloyd says. “These farms run so efficiently. Every byproduct is used somewhere on the farm—the liquids are turned into fertilizer, the manure is converted into bedding…there’s no waste.”
New Service Offerings
Lloyd considers Truax Corporation’s employees its greatest asset. “Some employees have been here for 30-something years. Their knowledge and professionalism drive our success,” he says.
One employee who started working with the company when he was just 15 years old is Lloyd’s son, Jamie, who now serves as Operations Manager. “When Jamie started, I told the guys that if he’s not pulling his weight to send him home to his mother,” he says.
Jamie not only pulled his weight, but in his 11 years with the company, also has helped Truax Corporation expand and manage new service offerings. “Jamie heads up our CCTV and lateral lining operations, which is new,” Lloyd says. The company uses Perma-Liner’s patented cured-in- place sewer line repair system to line failing pipelines. “We offer a zero-dig solution to repair pipelines, preserving yards, gardens, patios and walkways,” he says.
While Jamie has proven his worth out in the field, Lloyd is teaching him the ins and outs of managing a company so Jamie can one day take the helm at Truax Corporation. “I tell him that managing money and paperwork is 30% of running the business. I teach him what projects are our bread-and-butter work and to always remember that it’s his name on the door—he’s ultimately responsible for our reputation,” he says.
“Jamie’s got a good head on his shoulders, and our clients love him,” he adds.
“We’re very upfront with customers. We don’t want to waste their money by doing something that really doesn’t need to be done.” Lloyd M. Truax, President, Truax Corporation
Commitment to Honesty
One of the many reasons clients love Jamie—and the rest of the team at Truax Corporation—is because of the company’s steadfast commitment to honesty. “We’re very upfront with customers. We don’t want to waste their money by doing something that really doesn’t need to be done,” Lloyd says. “I ask customers to tell me what the problem is on the phone so I can see if they actually need me. I tell them, ‘I’d love to take your money, but I’d rather work for it.’ If there’s a better, less costly solution, we’re going to tell you.”
This honesty may be why Truax Corporation never has to advertise. “We have a very good reputation and are well known in the area,” Lloyd says.
From Roads to Storm Drains to Pipelines
The Truax family has a long history of keeping the local towns and cities clean and running smoothly. Back in the family’s hometown of Foxborough, Massachusetts, Lloyd’s grandfather, Edwin E. Truax, invented a machine to make road sweeping easier. “In those days, brooms used to sweep street gutters were stuffed with corn husks. My grandfather invented a machine to make the restuffing of these gutter brooms easier,” Lloyd says.
The problem was Edwin, who served as volunteer fire chief for the town, lacked the funds to develop his new machine. Around that time, Edwin was at the fire station during a Fourth of July celebration when he was struck by a stray firework, blinding the amateur inventor.
A representative from the bank was so touched by Edwin’s story that he sent a letter to every fire station in the country, telling them of Edwin’s plight and his new invention. Edwin eventually received enough donations to have the machine built and to purchase road sweepers.
Lloyd’s dad, Lloyd Sr., was tasked with keeping the town roads clean using Edwin’s new gutter broom machine. In time, Lloyd Sr. transitioned from sweeping roads to cleaning catch basins (storm drains), and Truax Corporation was founded in 1958.
In his early years, son Lloyd could often be found helping his dad after school and during the summers. Following a short stint in college, Lloyd joined his brother, Robert, building homes. “I was a cabinetmaker and would do woodworking and build staircases,” Lloyd says.
When Lloyd Sr. approached him to join Truax Corporation, son Lloyd was ready to make a change. Under his leadership, the company expanded its services to include pipeline maintenance and cleaning.
At 64 years old, Lloyd can still be found out in the field.
“I jump in my truck and help out. I’ll grab a crane and put on my headset so I can work and manage things in the office at the same time.”
After decades in the business, Lloyd still enjoys the work. “There are new challenges every day. I love meeting people, and I like doing what I do.”