Pumper Rewind: Pumper Makes Leap From Employee to Owner

Thinking of transitioning from employee to owner? See what this pumper says is the most rewarding part of becoming an owner.
Pumper Rewind: Pumper Makes Leap From Employee to Owner
A baby, business and career keep Jessica and Kyle Getter very busy.

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We celebrate the continued dedication and hard work of septic service contractors by revisiting companies profiled 10 years ago in Pumper magazine. Check out the original story on Maritime Liquid Waste Transport LLC company we featured in the December 2004 issue: “Keeping It Simple.

Kyle Getter was an employee when Maritime Liquid Waste Transport LLC was featured in Pumper magazine a decade ago. He still pumps tanks in a 30-mile radius of the Manitowoc, Wis., business, but now he owns the business and calls all the shots.

Moving from employee to owner was good for the business’ transition, and Getter maintained most of the customers and has added more every year since purchasing Maritime in 2010. 

“It was helpful to work there that long (starting 2003) because the customers knew me,” he says. “But it was an awakening. I realized there was more behind-the-scenes work and paperwork.”

And though he’s putting in long days doing everything from answering phones to pumping to bookwork with the help of a part-time worker, Getter says buying the business was a good move. 

Supportive mentor

Getter grew up on a farm and was used to driving trucks, so when his brother-in-law moved on from his job at Maritime, Getter applied and got the job. He found it was a good fit, and when owner Troy Temme wanted to move on to other ventures, Getter recognized an opportunity to be his own boss. 

The relationship didn’t end with the sale. When Getter bought the business, he also bought into a service provided by Temme. Temme built a lagoon waste processing facility on his farm for the pumping business, and Getter pays a fee to continue to dump loads there.

“The one big advantage is I don’t have to drive in the city, wait at stoplights and in line. It’s very convenient and centralized,” says Getter.

He also pumps grease and hauls it for disposal at Temme’s on-farm digester. 

Through the years Temme has answered Getter’s questions about the business and has been a supportive mentor. Temme’s wife, Gail, gave Getter a crash course on QuickBooks, which has been helpful for invoicing with the laptop and printer he keeps in the truck.

“When I married Jessica (2012) and we went on our honeymoon, Troy filled in answering the phone for a week,” Getter adds.

Life can get hectic

Between having an 11-month-old, Jessica working as a full-time occupational therapist and Getter managing his business, life can get hectic. Getter’s summer workdays average 12 hours plus evenings and weekends doing maintenance and paperwork; and he hires the same brother-in-law who used to work for the company part-time to help during the busiest times.

Equipment has been one of the biggest challenges, Getter says, and he understands the importance of having a backup truck. He drives the 2006 Peterbilt with a 5,600-gallon tank that he bought with the business. But just a year after buying the business, the frame on another truck cracked. He purchased a 1998 Peterbilt dump truck and had the frame extended to accommodate the tank. Last year he upgraded with a new 6,000-gallon aluminum Imperial Industries tank. 

Getter likes big tanks to save fuel and make fewer trips. In spring when the ground is soft, he honors customers’ requests to reduce compaction and avoid making ruts by coming to their sites empty whenever possible. 

Heavy rains this past spring added middle-of-the-night calls to his working schedule to pump flooded basements. But he was already used to a busy workload from the winter when bitter cold froze up many of his customers’ mound systems and they needed regular pumping. 

“It was hard to keep everything from freezing even though the valves are heated,” Getter recalls. “Toward the end I figured out to wrap a towel around the valve and it worked pretty well.” 

What does the future hold?

As mainly a one-man operation, Getter keeps his operation low key. He uses the GPS on his cellphone to map his routes. 

“Customers like that they talk to me, and I come out there myself,” Getter says. He also follows the standards his former employer set and keeps his trucks maintained and clean and shiny, as his best advertisement. Because he is busy enough with his current customers, he’s limited advertising to phone books and a phone book website. But in the future he would like to grow the business and add a full-time employee. 

To bring in steady income, he wants to increase the number of customers with holding tanks that need monthly pumping. The systems were commonly put in years ago when the soil didn’t perk for other septic systems. 

“I would also like to do real estate inspections,” Getter adds. 

In the next few years he hopes to take time to get the training needed for the licensure to do that. For now, however, he is running a business — and pleased that it is keeping him very busy. 

“It’s definitely rewarding when customers are happy,” he says. 


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