Reliable Septic In Florida Adapts To Market Changes, Embraces New Technologies

Celebrating 60 years in business, Florida’s Reliable Septic is constantly refreshing and retooling to meet customer service expectations.
Reliable Septic In Florida Adapts To Market Changes, Embraces New Technologies
Installers Ramon Santiago (left) and Michael Ruehman place an Infiltrator Systems chamber as part of a new septic system in Indian River Shores, Fla.

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Just because a company enjoys the continuity of three generations of family ownership over 60 years doesn’t mean it resists adapting to change and modernization. Reliable Septic and Services, in Vero Beach, Fla., is a good example of a business with strong and deep roots that is always willing to prune and reshape the business plan for improved service, efficiency and profitability.

The company, started by Edward Bobo and his son-in-law George McCullers Sr. in 1954, employs smart cross-training of employees, advanced route-planning technology and social media through Facebook, all with one goal in mind: maintain customer service satisfaction for a new age.


When George passed away in 2010, the ownership of Reliable Septic passed to his sons George Jr. and Bruce, who were raised watching their father and grandfather hard at work. They’ve kept the work ethic but brought the business into the 21st century in other respects.

“As far back as I remember I was going out with the pump trucks, snaking out drains and you name it,” Bruce McCullers recalls. He’s been doing it ever since – other than a short stint at age 18 working at his aunt’s restaurant when his father fired him for not showing up to work on time. It took him about two weeks to figure out he ought to go back to what he knew best.

The company has added other services to its lineup over the years – grease trap pumping, grading, portable restrooms and roll-off containers – but septic work still dominates. They serve a three-county area and have 20 employees who work out of a 3.5-acre industrial plaza with a 1,400-square-foot office building and a 3,000-square-foot auto garage.

The company has always provided a full range of septic services: “Everything from the smallest plumbing repair to the largest system installs,” McCullers says. “Back in the day, everything was done by hand. My dad had one of the first backhoes and drag lines in the county.”


Today’s installs are aided by an Auto Crane on a Chevrolet 6500. The company still typically uses concrete tanks (Sebring Precast Products Inc.), but also uses polyethylene Infiltrator Systems Inc. tanks on occasion. Other equipment includes two 1999 International dump trucks (a 10-yard and a 16-yard), a 2013 20-yard Caterpillar dump truck, four Caterpillar tractors, three Caterpillar excavators (two minis), two Caterpillar skid-steers (277 and 287), two Ford F-350 and four 2013 Chevrolet pickups.

They’ve got four company-built vacuum trucks – two 2002 Sterlings with 2,600-gallon steel tanks, a 2000 Freightliner with a 3,600-gallon steel tank and a 2013 Caterpillar C65 on which they are retrofitting a used 4,000-gallon steel tank. They’re also in the process of refurbishing a 1998 Ford F-7000 with a 2,200-gallon steel tank. Pumps are from Masport Inc.

Over the years, the company has gone to ever-larger vacuum tanks to maximize the number of pumpouts per load. They’re looking at going to a 5,000-gallon tank on a tri-axle truck, which would enable them to pump out five tanks before disposal.

Many accounts go way back. For example, they’ve installed systems at large agricultural buildings for the big farm growers and have maintained them for years. Recent accounts include extending their reach to municipal customers. “We picked up a couple sewer plants, some large national chain wastewater companies,” McCullers says. “We haul their residuals for them. We pump 50,000 to 80,000 gallons once a month.”


The gravel-and-pipe drainfield systems of the past are being replaced by more advanced concepts. “Rock is kind of a thing of the past in our county,” McCullers says. “The chamber systems just work better. It’s mainly a root issue and they’re just a lot more root resistant than the old systems.”

In 1986, when Florida mandated use of portable restrooms on construction sites, the company saw an opportunity and added that service. Unfortunately many other pumpers did the same, and by 2000 they sold the division. Seven years later, they decided to try again after a bad hurricane season led to a surge in construction. They also added construction containers around that time. “It makes a good package for people who are building,” McCullers says.

The company has 200 restrooms from PolyPortables, PolyJohn Enterprises and Armal Inc. Their PolyPortables ADA units are self-flushing and include diaper stations. Service is performed with a 2013 Ford F-550 built out by Satellite Industries with a 600-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tank and a 1999 Ford F-700 built out by Reliable employees with a 1,200-gallon waste/500-gallon freshwater steel tank. Both trucks carry Masport pumps.

Units are used mostly on construction sites. When they do events, the company often donates the units. “Most of the events around here are fundraisers,” McCullers explains. “We try to give as much back to the community as possible.”


Technology is key to route efficiency, and Reliable is on board with the latest communications tools. The company has had to look for an alternative to cellphones since Florida passed a law prohibiting talking on a phone while driving. Today the company’s trucks are equipped with laptop computers and drivers now receive schedule updates by email.

The company recently installed a GPS fleet-tracking system from Advanced Tracking Technologies. “We have trackers on all the trucks and TV screens in all the offices,” McCullers says. “That way we can pinpoint where every truck is at any time of the day.”

The phones ring constantly, and when a call comes in for service, a quick glance at the monitor shows who’s closest to the customer.

Other updates include revamping the outdated and hard-to-navigate website. Their new marketing director, Mandy Madon, created a fresh look and an interactive site linked to her mobile phone. She receives alerts when someone sends a message or requests service. She also created a Facebook page, which is approaching 1,000 likes. “We run specials on there and interact daily with our customers,” she says.

The company wants their customers to be able to get information and make contact with them in whatever way they prefer. “Some people like to call, some like to do things online, some people even like to stop in,” Madon says. They also continue to put ads in the phone book. “Believe it or not we still get a lot of calls from that.”


The brothers have worked on every facet of their business to create a professional appearance and attitude. Employees wear uniforms. The office has been refurbished. The fleet is kept washed, painted and updated. And, of course, the old septic jokes printed on the sides of the trucks had to go.

Company colors – bright orange and blue – along with their version of an alligator (“We’re Florida Gator fans,’’ McCullers explains) are designed to stand out and attract attention. They appear on everything – trucks, portable restrooms, roll-off containers, uniforms and signage. “You can’t miss it,” he says. “You can see it a mile away. Everybody knows us by those colors.” Even their office building is orange with a blue security fence.

The brothers are selective in hiring. And they have the luxury to be as they get about 20 calls a week from people looking for work. Prospective team members are thoroughly evaluated during a two-week trial period. Most of their employees have been with them a long time. Two are dedicated to the portable sanitation side of the business, but everyone is cross-trained on all lines of business.

“We run it like a family,” McCullers says. “If they have a problem, they come to me. Everybody’s got their own set of life issues and if [someone] has to take time off, everybody steps up to the plate and fills in their spot.” The company holds monthly meetings to ensure everything is running smoothly and everyone has the help they need.


The company name, Reliable, is something they take seriously, and the crew is reachable day and night. “We are a true 24-hour, seven-day-a-week business,” McCullers says. Any time a customer calls, they get a live person. Every third week employees rotate being on call in addition to working their regular shift.

For spikes in business or emergency work, Reliable has three 7,000-gallon Fruehauf tankers to store wastewater “so we can truly run 24 hours a day whether the dump stations are open or not,” McCullers says. They average 10 or 15 pumpouts on Saturdays and about 10 on Sundays.

To minimize emergency calls, the company introduced a two-year septic pumpout reminder service, offering discounts for homeowners who plan ahead. “It’s definitely gotten a lot of customers on a repeat basis and keeps them out of trouble,” McCullers says. “But then you’ve still got those who will ponder on it and wait until they start to see a slow drain.”

As they look back and celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary, the brothers also keep an eye on the future. Their modernizing and professionalism efforts have paid off, leading to increased sales. And customers have voted them the No. 1 septic service provider in the region the past three years in a local newspaper poll.

“We have a great customer base,” McCullers says. “We take care of them – helping them through the hard times and going above and beyond to give a good quality job and a fair price – and they take care of us.”


Advanced Tracking Technologies - 800/279-0035 -

Armal, Inc. - 866/873-7796 -

Auto Crane Company - 918/836-0463 -

Caterpillar, Inc. - 309/675-1000 -

Freightliner Trucks A Div. of Daimler Trucks NA - 503/745-8000 -

Fruehauf Trailer Corporation -

Infiltrator Systems, Inc. - 800/221-4436 -

Masport, Inc. - 800/228-4510 -

PolyJohn Enterprises - 800/292-1305 -

PolyPortables, LLC - 800/241-7951 -

Satellite Industries - 800/328-3332 -

Sebring Precast Products Inc. - 800/869-0503 -


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