Aqua Drain Sewer Services Inc.
Yanick Brulé established Aqua Drain Sewer Services Inc. (ADSS) in 2005 as a small residential plumbing company. “I’ve been in the industry my whole life,” Brulé recounts. “My father and uncles are all plumbers and I wanted a business like that of my own. I worked for my uncle before starting my own business.”
ADSS started small. At first, it was just Brulé and a single van, making minor house calls around Ottawa, Ontario. As time went on, he reinvested in the company and purchased more advanced equipment. “The first few years of building up the business were tough,” he explains. “Our larger trucks and equipment for pipelining and high pressure cleaning are expensive.”
A few years in, Brulé bought into a pipelining franchise to support his company’s growing pipelining division. With a set territory, he provides services for the entire region. Since the purchase, ADSS has grown year over year. Today, Brulé has 37 employees and 27 trucks serving residential, commercial and municipal customers in the regions surrounding Ottawa and Toronto. The crew will travel as far as five hours away for larger municipal contracts.
Brulé and his team have been able to set themselves apart from other plumbers in the area through service. One of the greatest factors in the company’s growth over the years has been fast response to emergency calls. The emergency line is open 24 hours a day and Brulé says his crew attempts to respond to each call within an hour. “We have always focused on making our emergency customers a priority,” he elaborates. “When we first started out, we got the business because we got there first.”
Emergency service is still a major part of the business, although Brulé has expanded his company’s breadth of services over the years. The team stays busy performing a wide range of tasks for residential, commercial and municipal clients. ADSS has several local municipal contracts for pipe repair and root-cutting work. The company utilizes state-of-the-art technology to perform these tasks efficiently and with little impact on the streets or buildings surrounding the work areas.
Recent work includes a major overhaul for the City of Ottawa. “We changed 6,000 toilets and 6,000 shower heads for the city,” Brulé notes. “This was a big project and took us nearly five months with 15employees on the job. We removed and replaced these fixtures with more water efficient units. The new toilets use one-third less water than the old ones and the shower heads also offer a huge reduction in water use.
ADSS currently holds the root-cutting contracts for Ottawa, as well. The team uses a robotic camera, mounted to one of the service vehicles, to look underground and pinpoint root growth. Guided by this visual aid, the crew can access the underground tree roots and remove the roots while preserving the integrity of the pipeline. The business has also built a small but growing market performing root-cutting services for other contractors working on the roads or digging within the area.
One of the company’s most unique projects has been working on the Parliament Building in Ottawa. The historical building was first constructed in the 1800s. The aging plumbing needed to be updated without disturbing the architecture, so Brulé and his team took a unique approach to repair. “We lined everything under the buildings using cured in place liners (CIPP) that fit inside the existing pipeline. We worked there for a month and never had to shut the building down.”
ADSS has remained steady over the years, partly due to the necessity of the company’s work. “An emergency is an emergency,” Brulé explains. “The economy doesn’t affect us as much as other industries. Our biggest challenges in recent years have come from organic growth. Building the infrastructure in our company to manage that growth is expensive and it has been tough to find qualified employees. There is a trade shortage in the area.”
All in all, Brulé agrees that growth is not a bad problem to have. The company recently made the Profit 500 list for the fastest growing companies in Canada. Profit also breaks down the list into categories. In the service industry, ADSS came in at number eight. Overall, the business is listed as number 144. The team has also been highlighted in local and regional business journals. Even the company’s trucks have been highlighted, featured in a North American magazine as Truck of the Month. Brulé’s high-design wraps make his vehicles easily recognizable on the streets.
In the coming years, Brulé’s main goal is to ensure sustainable growth in the following areas, infrastructure, hydrovac, pipelining and sewer rehabilitation. The crew has plenty to do between Toronto and Ottawa, but the company’s assets and capabilities could translate well to an expanded geographic footprint, particularly in Kingston, Ontario. Brulé has nothing set in stone as far as geographic expansion, but when the time comes, Aqua Drain Sewer Services Inc. is well prepared to manage that growth.