By his own admission, Judge Berk is an old-school septic pumper – the kind of guy who prefers to avoid debt by paying cash for equipment and still believes in sealing a deal with a handshake.

Yet along with his wife, Juanita, he operates Judge’s Sanitation & Excavation LLC in Westerville, Ohio, with a decidedly modern-day mindset, centered on diversified services that generate multiple revenue streams and help keep cash flow consistent; GPS units on trucks that save fuel and maximize income tax deductions; and a variety of equipment that improves productivity and enhances customer satisfaction.

At the end of the day, Berk believes a strong, old-fashioned work ethic and common courtesy for customers counts just as much as the GPS units, the pipeline inspection camera and the nicely lettered and painted vacuum trucks that help him do his work every day.  

“I’m old school, all right,” Berk says. “Every day, you go out and treat people right, work hard, come home and relax, then go out and do it again the next day.

“In this line of work, you can’t just go buy a vacuum truck and start pumping out tanks. You’ve got to know how to find the tanks, pump them efficiently and treat people well,” he continues. “People think they’re going to buy a truck and make millions of dollars. But in a way, it’s like being a doctor … there’s way more to it than the average person can ever imagine.”

Video shot by Abigail Saxton