Justin and Jeremy Einck Buy Out Berg Tanks and Become Pumpers Overnight

Successful Illinois plumbing brothers never expected to find themselves on the outflow side of the septic tank.

Justin and Jeremy Einck Buy Out Berg Tanks and Become Pumpers Overnight

Joe Garrett prepares to lay hoses for a residential pumping job. He’s using a Sterling vacuum truck that carries a National Vacuum Equipment pump.

Brothers Justin and Jeremy Einck never expected to be in the septic pumping business. But they come from an entrepreneurial family and they recognized a good business opportunity when they saw one.

Justin, 38, and Jeremy, 36, are both licensed plumbers. They manage Fred’s Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electric in Champaign, Illinois, a business started by their father, Fred, in 1988. The company is busy, with 13 employees, and as Justin says, both he and Jeremy were already “wearing a lot of hats,” but in 2018 they ventured into the septic pumping business by buying Berg Tanks.

The transaction began when John Berg, 68, called Justin for his assistance with a wiring issue on a lift station pump Berg was working on. While they were working on the pump, Justin said he had heard that Berg was thinking about retiring.

“I just kind of threw it out there that we might be interested in purchasing his company from him,” Justin says, “and he called me back in less than an hour and said he wanted to talk.”

Berg was indeed interested in selling the company, which was started by his father in 1947. He had been in discussions with another potential buyer, but the deal was falling through, so the Eincks’ offer came at an opportune time for him.

Jeremy says he’s a little bit surprised to find himself in the pumping business, but he’s “very satisfied with the way it has worked out.”


The new owners relied on Berg’s expertise as they learned the ropes of a new business, and Berg started to ease his way into retirement. He still works for the Eincks on a part-time basis.

“He didn’t really retire, he just wanted to quit answering the phone,” Justin says. “He was doing it all himself. He did all the paperwork, did the pumping and answered the phone.”

At one point, Berg Tanks had seven employees, but it was a one-man shop when the Einck brothers took it over. Berg says it was always difficult to keep good help in the booming economy around Champaign.

“There was always plenty of business, but guys don’t have to look too hard to get a job here,” Berg says. “I don’t mind the work. I have never minded the work. It just was everything else.”

He’s still glad to work, and he’s happy that he doesn’t have to take care of other aspects of the business. He jokes that he’s content to be the grumpy old man on the crew.

“They’ve all been very respectful to me,” he says. “I’m there trying to help. Just send me out on a job where I don’t have to talk to too many people, and I’m happy.”


Justin Einck says the brothers were fortunate that one of the workers on the Fred’s Plumbing sewer crew was interested in going over to work for Berg Tanks, and he had a CDL. “He was already a Class A driver,” Justin says. “He started riding with John, and he fit into it really well.”

As the company got busier, the first driver led the Eincks to another potential employee who also has a CDL. He came on board, and very quickly the company had rebounded from a one-man operation to two full-time pumpers and one part-timer. There is also a part-time secretary.

Justin and Jeremy are both busy with Fred’s Plumbing, but they do occasional pumping runs themselves, especially on weekends.

“Only having two guys, it’s only a two-week rotation. We kind of do it for them so they don’t have to come in on weekends if they don’t want to,” Justin says. “If they want to, we’ll let them, but if they are busy or something, my brother or I will go.”

Berg Tanks had two trucks when the Einck brothers purchased the company, and they promptly bought a third, a 2006 Peterbilt 335 that was originally a job site water truck in Kansas. “We went down to Arkansas and got an LMT tank, then my brother and I put it together ourselves right here in our shop,” Justin says. The steel tank is 3,300 gallons, and suction comes from a Moro USA pump. They also had a small aluminum tank built, installed it behind the cab and mounted a Water Cannon Inc. - MWBE pressure washer.

The other trucks include a 2001 Sterling with a 3,200-gallon aluminum tank with a National Vacuum Equipment pump and a 1997 International 4600 with a 2,500-gallon steel tank and a Jurop/Chandler pump.


Marketing Berg Tanks has not been an issue for the Einck brothers. The company has grown in part because they are able to answer all the calls that Berg wasn’t able to handle when he was doing everything by himself.

“He would only answer the phone calls he could handle,” Justin says, “Now we have a secretary who answers all the calls. We don’t advertise at all.”

Justin says the Berg Tanks name is all the marketing they need.

“It was one of the first pumping companies in Champaign,” he says. “If your septic tank has issues, everybody just says, ‘Call Berg.’ That’s one of the reasons why we bought it. Everybody knows the name.”

The company’s services include inspections, repairs, residential and commercial septic pumping, grease trap and car wash pit cleaning. Justin says Berg Tanks will pump anything anyone needs except hazardous materials.

Although Fred’s Plumbing performs excavation work, neither Fred’s Plumbing nor Berg Tanks installs septic systems. “We have the license for it,” Justin says, “but we really don’t have the time. We are so busy with everything else that’s going on. We do repairs, like if there is a bad inlet or something. Full-blown systems — we farm those out.”


The plumbing, HVAC and electrical operation is similar to the pumping business, but there are important differences. “Berg Tanks is 100% service. Fred’s is 50% installation and construction. That’s where the main difference is on that,” Justin says.

Jeremy says the brothers had to pay more attention to scheduling the workload when they started running the pumping company. “We had to work on the logistics a little bit, scheduling properly, figuring out the most efficient dump site and finding more municipalities willing to take our septage,” Justin says.

Now the company, which serves about a 50-mile radius from Champaign, uses wastewater treatment plants in several municipalities around Champaign. There is also a wastewater treatment plant in Urbana, just a short distance from the Berg Tanks shop.

The Eincks also leased some land so they could land-apply septage. With the spreading option, the Berg Tanks crew has dumping alternatives in each direction from Champaign. “It really knocks down on our drive time and our fuel. You stay southeast one day; you go north the other day,” Jeremy says. “It makes it much more efficient doing it that way.”

Justin and Jeremy are licensed plumbers, but their family business also does HVAC, electrical and excavation work. With Berg Tanks added to the mix, they have to keep track of a lot of different services. “Everybody’s got their own tasks,” Justin says. “It’s really not too bad. My dad and my brother handle everything inside the homes and businesses. I handle all the exterior, the digging — stuff like that.”


Their father still handles the estimating for Fred’s Plumbing, and their mother, Patty, is the office manager. The brothers use technology to keep track of everything that’s going on.

“We’ve got everything on tablets. My brother and I each carry a tablet,” Justin says. “We’ve got both businesses on there. The guys carry a tablet, and the office has one. We use QuickBooks. It goes really smooth. We can keep an eye on things during the day, see everything that’s going on, the schedule and all that.”

There was never any doubt that they had the skills necessary for a pumping business. They had grown up surrounded by tradesmen. “My dad had always done plumbing, HVAC and electrical work. We were around it our whole lives,” Justin says. “We kind of knew that’s what we were always going to do.”

Fred’s Plumbing is building a new shop, which will have room for the Berg Tanks trucks.


So far, their venture into the pumping business has worked out well for them and for the former owner.

“I had worked with Justin and Jeremy on other jobs. I always liked them. They are nice young men,” Berg says. “Both Justin and Jeremy have a fantastic work ethic. These boys just took off and ran with everything, and I think they’ll do well with this.”

He’s glad to be able to work without spending time on all the other things involved in running a pumping business, and he’d like to continue behind the wheel of a vacuum truck. “I’d like to keep going two to three more years,” Berg says. “As long as I can stay healthy, I’d like to keep doing something.”

For the Einck brothers, the pumping business is a good fit, and now it’s the right size.

“If we can keep two guys and a part-timer busy all the time, we’re happy,” Justin says. “We have enough on our plates with the plumbing company. We’re busy enough as it is.”

Getting along with competitors

After Justin and Jeremy Einck — managers of a plumbing, HVAC and electrical business — decided to buy local pumping company Berg Tanks, one of the first people Justin talked to about the purchase was a competitor, Russ Gulliford of Gulliford Septic & Sewer.

“He’s really the only other competition,” Justin says. “I talked it over with a couple people and they agreed that it would be a good way to handle it, to let him be among the first to know. I feel like it’s good to have a good relationship with your competition, in case you need anything.”

It seems to have worked.

“I have a pretty good relationship with him,” Justin says. “If Russ needed anything and I had it, I’d let him borrow it, and I feel he’d do the same for me.”

Gulliford says he was surprised when Justin came to visit.

“When he came by my office and introduced himself, told me who he was and what he was planning on doing, I was just kind of floored,” Gulliford says. “It’s a good competition base when you start out like that. We’ve had an ongoing relationship since then. We text and call each other about various things.”

Justin’s younger brother Jeremy says that’s just the way their family does business.

“We know we can’t handle the entire population and there are certain things that Russ is equipped for better than we are. And there are certain things we can handle more efficiently than he can,” he says. “We call on each other as needed sometimes. We find that it works out better for both of us that way. We have similar relationships with other plumbing contractors.”


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