The Benefits of Starting Out Young: Loads of Energy, Big Dreams and a Knowledge of Social Media Marketing

Texas 20-something couple had more enthusiasm than cash when they started Cisco Septic Service.

The Benefits of Starting Out Young: Loads of Energy, Big Dreams and a Knowledge of Social Media Marketing

 The Cisco Septic Service team includes, from left, Jesus Benitez, Frank and Jackie Mendieta, Mario Duron, Adam Arguijo Jr., Mark Alvarado and Dillon Ahr. The truck is from Imperial Industries and carries a National Vacuum Equipment blower. (Photos by Ethan Rocke)

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In 2017, 23-year-old Frank Mendieta was just settling into a job working for a septic contractor in San Antonio. He never imagined that before year-end he’d own his own business. 

A small business rollercoaster ride began as Frank found himself without a job when his boss developed melanoma and passed away. He had been very close to the man and wanted to continue to take care of his customers. But Frank and his wife Jackie were in no position to buy the business or work through the complications of an estate.

Jackie came up with the idea first. “I told him, ‘You’ve met some really great people; why don’t you consider opening your own business? Let’s try it.’” They started the enterprise Nov. 13, 2017 — and it wasn’t long before the phone started to ring. One year later, she was able to quit her banking job and work full time for their new business, Cisco Septic Service, located in Adkins, Texas, a small community east of San Antonio.

Given their youth, it was inevitable technology and social media would play a huge role in connecting with customers. Growth was steady and by year-end 2021, the Mendietas owned their own building, employed five people and had three vacuum trucks.


It was one thing to enthusiastically decide to go into business for themselves, but without a lot of savings it was another to buy a vacuum truck and make it happen. This was the Mendietas’ biggest hurdle, and their ages were against them. “There were so many people who told us no,” Jackie Mendieta says. “They thought we were too young and not serious.” 

Finally a sales rep at Doggett Freightliner in Converse, Texas, did take them seriously — “His name was Chance, and he truly took a chance on us,” Jackie recalls with a laugh. The couple laid out their vision for the business — and it included more than just pumping septic tanks. “We told the finance person we’re here to help people,” Jackie says.

Their first vacuum truck was a 2016 Freightliner M2 with a 2,500-gallon steel tank and B500 National Vacuum Equipment blower. Two years later they bought a second truck, a 2020 Western Star built out by Imperial Industries with a 4,000-gallon aluminum tank and NVE 4307 blower. And by year-end 2021, they took delivery of a third truck, a 2022 Western Star built out by Imperial with a 5,000-gallon aluminum tank and NVE 4310 blower. 

They’ve progressively gone with bigger tanks to reduce the number of trips they make to the San Antonio treatment plant, which is sometimes 30 to 40 miles from a job. 

Over the years, they’ve added equipment — Crust Busters tank agitators, a RIDGID sewer camera and locator, miscellaneous DeWALT tools, and VARco hoses, clamps and probes.


Frank’s team includes lead technicians Mark Alvarado and Dillon Ahr and driver Adam Arguijo. Nathaniel, their 10-year-old son, helps out when he’s not in school or working in the office with mom, shredding papers, cleaning up or stocking the fridge. 

The company’s main service is pumping tanks for aerobic and conventional septic systems. They also install risers, perform minor repairs and pump out grease traps. About 80% of their work is for residential systems but they also do commercial lift stations, provide sewer line standby service, and pump out vault toilets at state parks. 

The company is taking advantage of the hot housing market by providing real estate septic inspections. Jackie says they give a quick turnaround time to prevent closing delays and provide referrals to homeowners who need work done. “We want to offer the homeowner solutions to get to closing versus just saying, ‘It failed.’ We’re not just going to leave them high and dry.”

They work within a 75-mile radius of their home base. While most of their clients are in the rural area around San Antonio, some of the older parts of the city are also on septic.

“The city sewer is definitely not keeping up with where the growth is, so septic really plays a large part in our area,” Jackie says. Some of the older systems are challenging to access and may require using their Kubota mini-excavator to get to a tank after mowing the field with their Kubota shredder.

Jackie says they do carry through on their stated goal to be a help to customers.

“Frank is hardworking and determined and will go out of his way to do the most possible,” she says. “Yes, we’re here to do a job but we’re also here for these people, to make their lives better.”


In December 2020, the couple purchased a building in Adkins and were thrilled to finally move the operation out of their spare bedroom so they could operate more efficiently. The building sits on an acre and has a front office and a back warehouse/storage facility.

As operations manager, Jackie oversees office operations, provides scheduling and support for the field staff and attends networking functions to market the business. Her team includes account specialist Mario Duron and marketing and events manager Jesus Benitez.

Breezeworks is the company’s management software. “We can schedule, collect payments, invoice, do estimates,” Jackie says. “It has all of our client information going back to 2017.” It’s compatible with many other programs like Square and QuickBooks and time clock software. The program is on all their devices. Technicians use it for navigation and to collect payment when they finish a job. Other programs they use include Gusto for payroll, the web-based OnTheClock time-punch system and Verizon business services.

The company makes reminder calls to homeowners to advise them on the importance of regular maintenance. “And I tell them to think about the money they’re not putting toward city sewer and to put that into a septic savings account,” Jackie says. “That way they can be prepared for the cost of future pumpouts.”


Jackie says the company pays a reasonable salary and offers a significant amount of overtime but is not yet in a position to offer a lot of other benefits. But she tries to make employees feel valued by providing other types of benefits. For example, she stocks the fridge with breakfast sandwiches, water, drinks and snacks, and puts items like snacks, phone chargers and flashlights in all the trucks. 

The company also provides pants and high-visibility shirts from Service Uniform so no one has to worry about getting their own clothes dirty, she says. Every technician is given a pair of Red Wing boots after 90 days. The company is flexible when it comes to staff members taking care of personal matters or attending their children’s school events. On the fun side, they have cookouts, a summer party for employees and their families (last year at a waterpark), and a Christmas party where they hand out gifts and bonuses. 

Communication is key to efficient operations and employee morale, Jackie says. They hold monthly meetings to cover big issues, Monday morning meetings to prepare for the week, and lately they’ve incorporated a five-minute daily gathering before everyone heads out, which Jackie says is working very well for them. 

The company uses the website Indeed to find employees. They are willing to look at anyone who expresses an interest. 

“We don’t care how old you are or anything,” Jackie says. “If you tell me you’re ready to work, we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity.” 

While they’ve had some hires where one side or the other recognized it was not a good fit, she says they currently have a great staff and want to take care of them. 

“We treat them like family. We don’t know what anyone’s struggle is and what they’re going through, so we try to be there for people as much as we can.”


Jackie says some of their current challenges include dealing with rising operational costs and figuring out how best to juggle scheduled calls with last-minute emergencies. 

“Sometimes you have to know when to say no, and that’s hard for us,” she says. But overall the couple really enjoys what they’re doing. “It is a niche industry,” she says. “Not everyone will do it, but someone’s got to do it, so we just have fun.” 

While long-term dreams include opening more locations, in the near term Jackie will be hiring an administrative assistant, Frank is working on getting his maintenance provider license, and they want to get involved with septic industry groups and trade shows — which they didn’t know existed until they picked up a copy of Pumper magazine, she says. 

Staying on top of technology will always be a high priority. “The future is technology and if you don’t move with the times you’re going to get left behind,” she says.

Although they’re young, Jackie believes their youth is an asset. “We’re hungry and motivated. We have those big dreams and years ahead of us to map it out.”  


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