Technology, Safety and Customer Service Drive Growth at JDC

Equipment innovation and training have helped the pumping industry continually build professional standards in the field

Technology, Safety and Customer Service Drive Growth at JDC

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Michigan-based equipment rental and sales company JDC, which began as Jack Doheny Supplies in the 1970s, has been a fixture in the wastewater industry since the 1970s. Pumper asked JDC CEO Steve Shafer and owner Kay Doheny to reflect on the history of the company and speak to issues important to the business and the wastewater industry today.

Pumper: Can you share the story of how JDC began and what the company profile looks like today?

Shafer and Doheny: JDC began as Jack Doheny Supplies in the 1970s and later became known as Jack Doheny Company. Today, it’s simply JDC. It started when Jack Doheny began working in the sewer cleaning industry at a young age. He and his father had traveled across the country to demonstrate power sewer cleaners and this exposure, combined with industry knowledge, led to Jack starting his own company. Its offerings include combination sewer cleaners, pipeline inspection equipment, training, service and parts. In 2019, JDC expanded its product line to include electric utility equipment. JDC makes it a priority to stay on top of trends in the industry and create innovative solutions to further assist its customers. JDC’s goal is to continue to evolve its offerings to support the infrastructure needs of the communities it serves. Jack’s character and commitment to his customers’ success made JDC what it is, and the leadership continues his legacy. JDC now has 16 offices in the United States and Canada. 

Pumper: What are the main markets served by JDC?

Shafer and Doheny: JDC provides infrastructure solutions through equipment sales and rentals, training, service and parts. JDC continues to offer sewer cleaning equipment, but it has expanded into electric utility, pipeline inspection, gas and oil, industrial cleaning, utility construction and municipal equipment. Products include industrial vacuums, vacuum excavators, sewer cleaning, pipeline inspection equipment and street sweepers, as well as parts and tools.

Pumper: Can you explain the JDC equipment rental model?

Shafer and Doheny: The company’s approach of continuous investment ensures customers have the most up-to-date equipment that is well serviced and maintained. The JDC team of experts is committed to providing the know-how to help technicians get the job done right the first time. JDC offers customizable short- to long-term rental options including rent-to-own. JDC also has a detailed check-in/check-out process to ensure top-quality performance of its vehicles.

Pumper: Can you talk about JDC’s safety, workplace development and education efforts?

Shafer and Doheny: JDC places a priority on fostering a community of safety, workplace development and continuing education. It offers multiple training programs and resources, including:

  • The JDC Technical Institute, which provides advanced classes on a range of topics, including operation maintenance, safety regulations and pipeline assessment certification.
  • JDC Memorial Training Scholarship, named in honor of Jack Doheny and his impact on the sewer cleaning industry.
  • Confined Space Entry Class, an 8-hour long, hands-on class focusing on general duties, fall protection, air monitoring equipment, types of hazards, oxygen awareness, proper ventilation protocols, flammable or toxic atmospheres and more.
  • Advanced Pipe Cleaning, an interactive, one-day sewer cleaning program.
  • Operation and Maintenance Training Classes, each of which teach practical and theoretical knowledge concerning the safe operation, basic maintenance and basic troubleshooting of manufacturers’ equipment available through JDC.
  • Pipeline Assessment Certification Program Training and Certification from the National Association of Sewer Service Companies. 

Pumper: What is the biggest trend you have seen in the vacuum truck industry over the past 10 years?

Shafer and Doheny: One of the most significant changes has been incorporating greater technology into the equipment. Enhancing and optimizing safety features and increasing safety training are always top priorities. Engineers are also focused on making equipment quieter, as well as smaller and lighter when appropriate. For instance, the Rapidview IBAK sewer inspection equipment line features scanners and camera heads designed to fit into a wide variety of spaces. The images are clearer than ever, and the technology allows users to see much farther than they have in the past. Technology advancements like these are essential for the industry.

Pumper: What is your forecast for the emergence of electric work trucks?

Shafer and Doheny: Because JDC believes having the latest models and technology offers a great deal of value to customers, the team is always looking at changes in the industry and new products as they emerge. This is no different with the emergence of electric work trucks. JDC has had multiple meetings with various OEMs and body builders to understand the timeline, challenges and investment needed to meet customers’ needs. Many challenges remain unanswered. How a vacuum truck could be incorporated on an electric truck platform and how this would impact the timeline is very unclear at this point. However, JDC will understand and help incorporate the solutions needed to serve the market.

Pumper: How has JDC been impacted by supply chain issues and when do you think these issues will ease for the work truck industry?

Shafer and Doheny: It’s been an interesting few years due to supply chain issues. JDC is celebrating its 50th year in 2023, and with that milestone comes the benefit of solid, long-standing relationships with the industry’s suppliers. It’s difficult to say when truck and equipment shortages will begin to ease, as the industry is facing factors never before seen in the market. However, JDC remains focused on customers’ success as product becomes more available. JDC prides itself on being able to quickly provide equipment, tools and helpful resources that can empower businesses to create innovative solutions to keep their businesses progressing. JDC invests heavily in new product and feels fortunate having a large supply of trucks and parts on hand, even during COVID, which enables the company to provide customers with continued solutions as it works with suppliers for long-term results.

Pumper: Recruiting a new generation of workers has been a challenge in the wastewater industry. How does JDC address this issue?

Shafer and Doheny: Manufacturing, construction and engineering jobs can be ambiguous and obscure because most people never truly do see them firsthand. With that in mind, increasing one-on-one mentoring, participating in speaking engagements and career fairs, enabling job shadowing opportunities, and leading awareness classes for high school and college students can make a world of difference. Students and adults who are exploring new career options through training programs are often fascinated with the machinery, tools and technology.

One of the greatest benefits of the industry is its stability. It’s basically recession-proof and does pay very well. In fact, infrastructure spending is expected to grow over the next decade, leading to even more opportunities for those getting into the industry. Seeing the work firsthand and understanding the benefits may drive many students to seek jobs in this field, so expanding these learning opportunities is crucial for the continued growth of the industry.


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