The Owner of Massachusetts’ ADC Septic Is Called to Be a Servant

After the death of his wife, Laura, Chris Lanoue feels compelled to use his wastewater industry talents to help needy neighbors and those struggling with cancer.

The Owner of Massachusetts’ ADC Septic Is Called to Be a Servant

The ADC Septic crew includes (from left) Chris Lanoue, Arthur Goulet, Nick Theroux, Jeffrey Holbrook Jr., Yvette Holbrook, Jeff Holbrook Sr. and Christine Remillard.

Chris Lanoue in Blackstone, Massachusetts, is an upbeat, positive guy, enthusiastic about America, dedicated to helping others and determined to do the best job possible raising his two children, Ava and Tess — all despite having lost his wife in 2014 to cancer. Laura’s diagnosis came in 2010 so the couple had a few years to prepare, and that’s what led Lanoue to a career in the septic industry.

At the time, he was a director of engineering with the Massachusetts Department of Correction and looking at retiring in 2015 with a full pension after putting in 20 years. Meanwhile, he’d also gotten his foot in the door of the septic industry, working part time for his father-in-law, Edward Marchand.

When Marchand died in 2003, Lanoue kept up the business to some extent, but limited the work to inspections. But with Laura’s diagnosis, he started thinking of it as a good business to be in after his retirement from the state. It would enable him to work from home, have a flexible schedule and be more hands on with his family.

In 2011 he got his installer’s license, bought a vacuum truck and purchased five portable restrooms. Over the next few years, he continued to expand and add services, so by the time he left his state job, ADC Septic was a full-blown, one-stop-shop septic company.


Today Lanoue has a staff who are mostly friends or former colleagues — Yvette Holbrook, secretary; Jeff Holbrook Sr., foreman and excavation lead; Jeffrey Holbrook Jr., laborer; Nick Theroux, portable restroom technician; Christine Remillard, septic technician; and Arthur Goulet, part-time heavy equipment operator. Ava, 16, does secretarial work part time and is looking at becoming more involved in the business.

“College is three years away, and she’s looking at civil engineering to design septic systems,” Lanoue says. “Tess is still a young 13-year-old and just likes to go for joyrides with dad in the truck.” After their daily morning briefing, the team stays in constant touch with each other through group text messaging. They manage their client database with Summit software from Ritam Technologies. Half the staff takes the very slow winter season off to enjoy traveling and winter sports.

For a number of years, Lanoue operated the business out of a 20-by-60-foot building on his 6-acre property, but by 2018 they had outgrown the space. “So, we expanded,” he says. “We built a new barn, adding on to our existing building with a 40-by-60 addition to house the trucks for winter pumping and for use as a shop.”

The office is located in a converted garage bay in Lanoue’s house. “We put a pedestrian door on the outside, we’ve got signs up for office parking and we did a nice tongue-and-groove pine country theme with granite countertops. It actually came out really beautiful.” People drop by every day, he says, to pay bills, sign contracts, drop off blueprints.


Lanoue tells people they do anything and everything in the septic world.

Inspections: Massachusetts requires that septic systems be inspected by a licensed inspector when a property changes hands. Lanoue does about two a day. He uses a dedicated 20-foot enclosed 2006 Car Mate trailer outfitted with a RIDGID 200-foot mini-reel inspection camera, RIDGID Scout locator, RIDGID CS6x digital recording monitor, 2019 Bobcat E10 ultracompact excavator and numerous tools. Lanoue says having this setup saves time and labor — and, most important, his back.

Installations: The company performs about 40 installs a year, mostly precast concrete tanks matched to systems from Infiltrator Water Technologies and Presby Environmental, An Infiltrator Water Technologies Co. Equipment includes a 2003 Kenworth T800 dump truck with a 20-yard Beau-Roc dump body, 2017 Dodge 3500 1-ton dump truck with a Rugby dump body, 2006 Caterpillar 314 excavator, 1999 Caterpillar 311 excavator, Kubota mini-excavator, 1997 Caterpillar IT28B front-end loader, BWISE 2016 8-ton trailer, 20-ton Rogers Brothers trailer to tow the excavators and 2010 Caterpillar 257B tracked skid-steer. For septic rejuvenations, they use Septic Drainer, a product Lanoue is a distributor for.

Sewer and water service: A few years ago, the company added sewer line and waterline repair work after people started asking for it. They use their camera and mini-excavator, as well as a Diamond Products core drill with a 4.5-inch core bore bit and a Husqvarna 375K saw to cut roads.

Portable restrooms: The company has about 100 Five Peaks Glaciers (red, white and blue), six flushable Glacier IIs and four Five Peaks hand-wash stations. Service is done using a 2012 Ford F‑550 with a Thieman Tailgates power liftgate, company-built 300-gallon waste and 200-gallon freshwater steel tank, and Conde (Westmoor) pump.

In 2019 Lanoue built out another truck, a 2002 Freightliner FL50. “I put a 9-foot aluminum bed on it,” he says. “I bought a slide-in tank from KeeVac Industries — 300 gallons waste and 150 gallons freshwater, stainless steel, with a Conde pump — and mounted it to the truck. And then we added a foldable two-unit toilet hauler made by F.M. Mfg.”

They use J&J Portable Sanitation Products and Surco Portable Sanitation Products deodorizers. Disposal is at the local wastewater treatment plant. Units are used for construction projects, backyard parties, parades and three or four annual events including the popular Mud Jam, a mud-bogging event at a local farm.


Septic pumping is done with two vacuum trucks. The 1998 Volvo has a 3,300-gallon Andert steel tank and Fruitland 500 pump. The second truck is a custom-built 2019 Peterbilt 348 with a 3,600-gallon FlowMark Vacuum Trucks steel tank and National Vacuum Equipment Challenger 866 pump. But it’s much more than just a vacuum truck. To Lanoue, it represents everything the company is about, his family’s history, and the culmination of an idea that began to form after Laura’s passing, involving the creation of a nonprofit.

“I built this truck specifically for a cancer remembrance truck for her,” he says. “It took almost seven months.” Features include GPS, backup cameras, Bluetooth, air-ride suspension and seats, automatic transmission, Rear View Safety touch-screen monitor, and a 100-gallon tank from AlumiTank for the Advance Pump & Equipment high-pressure jetter. While all his trucks have his daughters’ names on the hood, this one has Laura’s name and dates. “And on the tank itself it says, ‘I wear blue for the cure.’”

The process began in 2017 when Lanoue talked with Andy Nelson, the president of FlowMark. Nelson was intrigued with his story, and the two stayed in touch and worked out all the specs. At the 2018 Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show, they went over the final plans and met the Peterbilt dealer. One final decision was needed.

“We wanted a colon cancer blue color,” Lanoue says. “But when you Google that, a bunch of different colors come up. I walked around the show and came around a corner and Imperial Industries had a Hino truck there with a beautiful cobalt blue paint. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s it.’”

A percentage of the proceeds from every job performed with the truck goes to a nonprofit organization he created in February 2019 in his wife’s honor, the ADC Initiative. In fact, a small percentage of revenue from every job the company does goes to the effort and all customers receive a small tax break because of it. Funds are used to help community members.

“Anybody in my service areas, if they have a terminal illness, cancer, anything like that, if they meet our criteria of needing assistance — they need a ramp built, their roof’s leaking, they need snowplowing — my nonprofit will send out a contractor to take care of it. We have a list of contractors called Laura’s Angels. That’s why I built that truck.”


The ADC Initiative is not the only way the company gives to the community. Lanoue says they donate a lot, whether it’s providing portable restrooms or pumping septic tanks.

“If people are ill and can’t afford to have their septic tank pumped, I’ll pump it for free. Or if we have failing systems but the people are in a bind, we’ll do whatever we can to help them.” One solution he offers some customers in need of a tank replacement or repair before selling their home is fronting the costs until the house is sold.

In the winter, the company offers snowplowing. “We post on the social media for the local towns: ‘If any elderly or ill people need to have their driveways plowed or shoveled, give us a call.’”

Lanoue provides a couple of other unusual services for his town of 9,000, although not necessarily for free. A few years ago, he became a minister for the purpose of performing weddings after friends asked him to marry them. And in 2010 he became the town’s gravedigger when his mother passed away and the priest asked him to dig the grave because he had the equipment. He continues to provide that service. “That’s where my wife is buried — and my mother, my grandmother, my father-in-law. So, it gives me a reason to go back there. It’s kind of like a second home.”


ADC Septic continues in growth mode. In addition to expanding the barn, building two vacuum trucks and buying flushable portable restrooms, Lanoue purchased the phone number of a now defunct septic company. They’re also expanding into Rhode Island, just a few miles away. Lanoue paid for Remillard to become a certified septic inspector there, and he’s planning on doing the same. The workload is increasing but Lanoue hopes to keep the staff count steady for a while. He continues to tap friends and former colleagues for extra help when needed.

“We’ve grown a lot, and along with growing, it costs a lot of money and gets very stressful,” he says. “This year is growing pains.” But providing services and helping the community is what the business is all about, he says.

“That’s what it comes down to. That’s the only reason I do it: to help people. I do this for my guys to have jobs and to have fun,” he says. “I started the business with Laura, and this is what keeps us motivated.”

Always promoting

With all the emphasis these days on having a high-profile online presence with a sophisticated website and regular posts to social media, it might be easy to forget that visibility in the real world is at least as important in promoting a business. Chris Lanoue at ADC Septic does this several ways.

He mails notices to customers to remind them to have their tanks pumped. He sets up a 10-by-10 pop-up tent (with a huge photo of his new Peterbilt on the back wall) at appropriate events with information about the company and ADC Initiative. They also put out yard signs.

“If we’re doing a pumping, I’ll give the homeowner $5 off to put a sign in their yard for a week,” he says. “And at any of our excavation jobs, they always get the yard signs and that’ll be there a couple weeks. That’s been very successful.”

And the trucks are moving billboards. “Our trucks are everywhere. They’re all lettered so everybody sees us. We could be in other towns that aren’t even close to ours and people are still waving at us.” One of his guys was recently driving in Framingham, just south of Boston, and a guy pulled alongside and said, “ADC — you guys are everywhere. Keep up the good work.”


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