Worlds largest dealer in Sewer Cleaning, Pipeline Inspection and Industrial Vacuum Equipment including Vactor Sewer Cleaners, Guzzler Vacuum Loaders and Cusco Liquid Vacuum trucks. New, used and remanufactured equipment always in stock. We also have a rental fleet of almost 300 late model Combination Sewer Cleaners, Industrial Vacuum Loaders, Trailer and Truck Jets, Liquid Vacuum Trucks and Street Sweepers. Municipal Equipment for Hiway maintenance also available.
Would you like to meet some successful sewer cleaners? Then spend a while with Jack Doheny at the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo. 'If you go to that show and stand with me for an hour, I'll introduce you to 25 guys who with a little help from me became millionaires,' says Doheny, founder and president of Jack Doheny Companies. He says that with pride, but not boastfulness. He built his business on a belief that success is a two-way street: The dealer succeeds only when customers do.
Today, Jack Doheny Companies, which calls itself the world's largest sewer cleaning and maintenance equipment dealer organization, has some $100 million in annual sales and operates multiple businesses: Jack Doheny Supplies in Northville, Mich., Twinsburg, Ohio, Lawrence, Indiana, Antioch, CA, and La Porte, Texas; Jet Vac in Patterson, N.J.; Orange Industrial Services in Davenport, Fla.; and Jack Doheny Rentals, Inc. The company also has service centers in Bartow Fla. and Island Lake, Ill.
'Every one of these businesses is very successful, financially and from a customer satisfaction standpoint,' says Dan Weber, president of Jack Doheny Companies.' That's because Jack has surrounded himself with extremely competent people who are compensated accordingly.'
The company's complete line of sewer cleaning and repair equipment includes Vactor and Sewer Equipment Company of America sewer cleaning equipment and Hydro Excavators; Aries, Radiodetection and Pearpoint video inspection and locating systems; Guzzler vacuum loaders and Cusco liquid DOT loaders; Progress Tank products; OshKosh Snow Removal, pipe plugs, test plugs, safety devices, and a great deal more.
Logging the miles
It has been a long road, literally and figuratively, for Doheny, now 79. He got his start in the sewer cleaning business in 1948, demonstrating coiled rodders and sectional rodding machines for O'Brien Manufacturing with his father, Earl J. Doheny.
Jack Doheny joined O'Brien Manufacturing in 1953 after a hitch in the U.S. Air Force. O'Brien had introduced a coiled rodding machine with a one-inch cable and a power feed for cleaning larger pipes. Doheny hit the road to sell that product. 'I used to leave on six-week trips,' he recalls. 'I'd drive out to the West Coast and come back, demonstrating in cities all along the way.
'In the years after World War II, sewers were being put in the ground at rapid pace, but the cities didn't have funds to maintain them. We were one of the first companies that allowed cities to purchase sewer machines on time. We would sell to them on a three-year basis with monthly or annual payments. It was like an insurance policy for the city, because they got a machine that enabled them to take care of emergencies. I always said that if Mrs. Jones has four feet of water in her basement or her house is on fire, something's got to happen immediately. It was a pretty easy sale.'
The contacts Doheny made on all those trips helped him when he started his own business, Jack Doheny Supplies. That was in 1974, by which time Doheny was tired of the road. 'I had a family, and I just couldn't be traveling that much,' he said. 'I would be gone constantly, six or seven weeks at a time.'
Good credit risks
Jack Doheny Supplies immediately started selling Vactor combination sewer cleaners, distinguishing itself by selling on credit and by offering guaranteed buy-backs. 'Both of those were things we initiated that are pretty common practices now,' Doheny says.
'When I started in this business, nobody would finance a sewer machine. I did. Unlike people in some other professions, people in the sewer cleaning business have made a commitment that they don't mind getting their hands dirty. They are workers, and they do pay their bills. I know of no occupation that has a better credit rating than sewer cleaning people. A huge percentage of the equipment we sold was financed. I can literally count on one hand the people that have let me down.'
Weber observes that the firm still sells on credit to contractors who may not otherwise be able to get financing. 'We have a portfolio of installment agreements with guys who have gone to their banks and have been turned down,' he says. 'Jack makes daily judgments on character and gives those who wouldn't otherwise have a chance to get into the business an opportunity to do so. We help launch those contractors. They build their credit rating and mature into a relationship with a bank, and we hand them off. In the end, their success is our success.'
Service all the time
Once contractors are in business, it's Doheny's philosophy to keep them there with as little downtime as possible. 'Our long suit has always been service and equipment availability,' Doheny says. 'If you have one piece of equipment and it's committed for the next six weeks, and it gets hit by a train, and you need another machine, we've got it. We have in excess of 400 machines available. We also receive great technical and product support from the manufacturers we represent.
As for repairs: 'We go out of our way to make sure their equipment is running. If we can't repair a piece of equipment in a timely manner, we'll give the owner the use of a machine at no charge. Sewer cleaning is an emergency business. A contractor can't call the bank and say, 'My machine's broken down, stop the payments.'
'We have well in excess of $8 million of parts in stock, so if someone calls here before 4 o'clock in the afternoon, just about anyplace in the world, we can have it to them the next morning. Ninety percent of the people who come here for parts don't even call to ask if we have them. If a man needs a part that we don't have in stock, we'll pull a $5 part off a $300,000 machine to get him back in operation. That's not talk. We've done it.' Weber adds, 'It happens many times, a guy will pull in here with a blown or frozen pump, and that's something that typically takes several days to fix. The customer won't even leave. It's like an Indianapolis 500 pit stop. We pull that truck in, we surround it, and three hours later, he's out the door.'
Doheny recalls the customer who lost a blower on an industrial vacuum loader in the middle of a time-sensitive job on the day before Christmas. 'He brought it in here on Christmas Eve, and we had him out Christmas Day,' Doheny says. 'I figured, what the hell, he's working, why shouldn't we be?'
Built around people
Jack Doheny Companies also offer comprehensive, formalized training and certification programs for customers in operations, maintenance and safety. Participants get continuing education credits.
The key to it all, Doheny points out, is quality people. He mentions in particular Gary Mapes, vice president of operations in Michigan; Dan Coley, vice president and general manager in Ohio; Mike Rattay, vice president and general manager of Jet Vac; and Roger Knaak, president of Orange Industrial.
'I'm fortunate to have an awful lot of very qualified people who are just as dedicated as I am to making sure that customers can get in and get out,' Doheny said. 'A lot of our people have been here for more than 20 years. When I have an opportunity to hire someone, I say, 'If you don't truly love it, if this is work to you, do us both a favor and don't show up.'
Weber notes that Doheny shows equal respect to employees at every level, and the same applies to customer personnel who visit the dealerships. 'The front-line laborer who walks into one of our businesses is greeted with the same enthusiasm with which we treat the owner of his company,' Weber says. What Doheny has to show for his approach — besides a highly successful business — is a large and loyal base of satisfied customers. He observes, 'If anybody out there has ever bought a piece of equipment from us, and is dissatisfied, there's only one thing I can tell you: He hasn't told me.'
Among those satisfied customers is Pat Taplin of Downunder Municipal Services in Lawton, Mich. He started the business in 2001, but his experience with Doheny goes back to the late 1960s, when he worked for a company owned by his father.
'Over the years, I really don't know how many Vactor trucks we bought from Doheny Supplies,' says Taplin. 'We bought TV units from Jack, just a multitude of different machines.'
About his own company, Taplin says, 'In all honesty, if not for Jack Doheny, I don't know if we would have been able to get into business. They gave me a credit line for parts and helped finance the first machine I bought. That was a used machine completely reconditioned by Doheny. That really helped us out. It all boils down to trust. We've had a good relationship for a long time. He is just a heck of a nice guy.'
Gina Garcia-Moir, owner of Advanced Underground Inspection in Detroit, calls Doheny 'a man of his word' and someone who has helped many people in her state get established. 'I think a lot of people wouldn't be where they are without his backing and his guidance,' she says.
'Quite frankly, I don't think I could have taken off without his support. He gave us a lot of help with financing and worked with us on terms. A standard bank, you go in and you're nobody to them. Jack extends his hand. You meet him and he's very personable, very hands-on. And that shows throughout his staff.'