From Heavy Clay to Bedrock, Every Onsite System Is a Challenge

The crew at All Clear Pumping & Sewer has its hands full pumping septic tanks and installing new systems in Jefferson City, Missouri.
From Heavy Clay to Bedrock, Every Onsite System Is a Challenge
Tracy and Shawn Chilton

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Name and title or job description: Shawn Chilton, owner, and Jason Jones, project manager

Business name and location: All Clear Pumping & Sewer, Jefferson City, Missouri

Age: Shawn 39 and Jason 44

Years in the industry: Shawn 12 and Jason 23

Association involvement: The company has been a member of the Missouri Smallflows Organization for eight years. Jason has been on the board for 1 1/2 years.

Benefits of belonging to the association: Jason: The continuing education training we offer. We have some new online training that’s going to be coming out, which will help installers all over the state. Then, we have an annual conference with keynote speakers and multiple trainings in all the areas — soils, engineering and installation.

Biggest issue facing your association right now: Jason: There’s two parts. One is growth of new membership — you’re always trying to gain new members. The other one is the education, both in having enough instructors and having enough new education for people instead of being redundant — keeping people interested so they keep coming back to learn.

Our crew includes:

  • Shawn Chilton, owner
  • Tracy Chilton, owner, office
  • Coley Peters, office
  • Jason Jones, project manager
  • Robert Sterling, service technician
  • Seth Hampson, installer/vacuum truck driver
  • Gary Buscher, plumber
  • Kelvin Lee, installer
  • Brad Tagg, service technician, equipment operator
  • Phil Bailey, equipment operator

Typical day on the job: Shawn: Checking on job sites to ensure everything is up to par and following up with the customers to make sure they are satisfied with the work completed. I also meet with customers regularly to evaluate their situation and give them estimates to meet their needs.
Jason: Meeting with the customer and then laying the job out and getting the crews headed in the right direction, directing them for a safe and professional installation.

Helping hands - indispensable crew member: Shawn: We could not do any of this without each and every one of our crew members. They all bring a level of talent that is unique. You can train anyone to do a job, but it takes a certain type of person who wants to do it consistently well. And when we find them, we invite them to be part of the family. In return, we are able to leave on vacation and know that we have the best of the best to give our customers a professional, finished product or service and not have to worry about what we might come back to.

Explain your pumping side and its challenges: Shawn: About 30 percent of our business is pumping. Some of the issues we deal with are how far away the tank is from our truck for us to be able to pump, educating the customer on how to maintain his or her system, and the rising cost of disposal at the treatment facility.

My favorite piece of equipment: Shawn: Our Case tractor with a Bradco vibrating plow. The plow is an attachment for plowing in leach lines for advanced septic systems for drip systems. It makes the yard look clean when we’re done, like we haven’t been there.

Most challenging site I’ve worked on: Jason: The thing is, it never ends. I think I meet the most challenging site, and then I meet another one. Every site has its challenges that you have to overcome. We deal with everything from 4b (stiff) clay to bedrock here. Soils are our big issue. You might go down only 6 inches to 2 feet and hit bedrock. In our area, advanced systems are more predominant.

The craziest question I’ve been asked by a customer: Shawn: I get a lot of people who say something like, “I don’t know how you do this. I guess it must smell like money.”

If I could change one industry regulation, it would be: Jason: For time of transfer inspections, I’d like a regulation that all outdated systems have to be brought up to code. Right now it’s not required. It’s just between the two parties. The banks are pushing for (this change), too.

Best piece of small business advice I’ve heard: Shawn: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution. It’s your choice.

If I wasn’t working in the wastewater industry, I would: Shawn: I’d probably be a detective. I’ve always wanted to do that. My friends say I’m crazy because when they come over, I’ll stop what I’m doing and go watch Snapped, Murder Among Friends or something like that.

Jason: I took a break from this industry for seven years and worked as a police officer. That’s what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this.


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