Happy Accidents Lead to Corporate Expansion for Rhode Island Pumper

Happy Accidents Lead to Corporate Expansion for Rhode Island Pumper

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Joe Procopio may have a successful septic business, but his two company expansions — which both have proven advantageous — came about as happenstance.

Procopio, 34, owns ProSeptic, the septic division of his company Land Works in Scituate, Rhode Island. He initially started a part-time landscaping company in 2003, but demand soon grew for hauling and excavating, which led to him launching Land Works in 2012.

Soon Procopio — a former emergency medical technician — was doing a few septic installations just for people he knew. “We did a couple a year, and it kind of blossomed,” says Procopio, who expanded his corporate umbrella with ProSeptic in 2017. The company provides septic installations, repair and maintenance primarily serving the residential market.

While out in the field doing septic work, Procopio and his staff realized they often needed restrooms for their own use. So he purchased a few PolyJohn Enterprises units, but soon others in the field saw them and asked to rent them.

Joe Procopio
Joe Procopio

“That expansion was another accident too,” Procopio says. He now owns about 60 PolyJohn Enterprises units. “We’re diverse but within the same industry. We kind of keep our hands in everything.

“You’ve got to stay in front of the customer,” he says. “When the digging slows down, you have the restrooms, and something else is ramping up.”

Refurbished Mack truck

Procopio and two other employees do their job with a modest, hardworking fleet, which includes his workhorse — a 1989 Mack RB688S with a 3,300-gallon steel Andert tank and Jurop/Chandler R260 pump.   

He refurbished the truck in the company shop. It was completely stripped, sanded and painted in a white and John Deere green paint scheme with graphics by Cool Air Creations.

It was reassembled with new hose trays and LED lighting, and mechanical issues were addressed on the truck with 270,000 original miles. The truck is powered by a Mack 350 hp engine and a 12-speed Mack transmission. Features include a 50-gallon freshwater tank with washdown pump and rear-mounted garden hose reel, a Walex Products Vacu-Fresh exhaust deodorizing system, a driver’s side sight tube, top and rear manways, LED strobes, bed liner in the hose trays and sides of the tank, 200 feet of 3-inch suction hose, and color-coordinated visor and air cleaner.

Procopio’s other trucks are a 2018 Peterbilt with 3,600-gallon (all waste) steel tank by Pik Rite and toolbox jetter with 50-gallon freshwater tank; a 2006 Ford F-350 service truck; a 2003 Ford F-550 with 300-waste and 150-freshwater Robinson aluminum tank slide-in unit for restrooms; and two Mack dump trucks — one a 10-wheeler and one a tri-axle — for dirt hauling. 

Finding help is a struggle

Despite his main focus on septic, Procopio’s diversity into other waste management areas keeps business steady — and often hectic. But he’s having a hard time finding more employees.

“We’re looking to hold steady right now,” he says. “We just added the tri-axle this year. I want to focus on growing the pumping and growing the dirt hauling. And we’re extremely busy with septic installations.

“Our biggest trouble now is help,” he says. “I could have every truck on the road if I had enough guys.”   

Procopio says it’s hard to find good employees and opines that it may be a generational thing, noting that the younger generation doesn’t seem interested in this industry. “Very few want to do manual labor,” he says.

Still, Procopio — who makes his bread and butter this way — feels the trades are still a viable place to be. “I am a die-hard. I don’t care if it’s electricity, plumbing, carpentry — there will always be a need [for skilled trades],” he says.

“Every computer could crash, but you still need the guy to pump your septic.”


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