Education Is Big Part of This Wisconsin Pumper's Mission

Customers don't always know what kind of systems they have, much less how to properly take care of them. That's where Ken's Septic Service comes in.

Education Is Big Part of This Wisconsin Pumper's Mission

Ken's Septic Service sent in this gorgeous 2019 International HX620 as a Classy Trucks submission.

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Sandy Begalke may never have meant to go into education, but that has become an important part of her business. She and her husband, Kenneth, have owned Ken’s Septic Service in Holcombe, Wisconsin, for 37 years. And teaching customers about their systems has become a top priority in this “up north” Wisconsin area.

“We do a lot of education with our customers,” says Sandy, whose son, Clifford, is also part of the family business. “I really try hard when I get the person on the phone.”

Sandy says she tries to gently remind people they need to start thinking about replacements to their current system, or tell customers they’re neglecting necessary regular maintenance. “Maybe it’s a family home that has been owned a long time.”

Some customers may not know what kind of system they have or how it functions. In the rural remote region where Ken’s Septic Service operates, some customers have multiflow systems and others have holding tanks or mound systems; often, customers don’t understand what the difference is. Sandy says about 80% of their business is residential holding tanks.

Pumping a large service area

Holcombe is tiny — fewer than 300 residents itself — but it’s located about 40 minutes northeast of Chippewa Falls in the rural, remote north of the state. The region caters to a lot of resorts, camping, logging and tourism, and it’s located by Lake Holcombe — a popular tourist area with a river-fed flowage and serene woodlands.

“We’re in a rural area,” Sandy says. “There are not large treatment plants; they are lagoon systems.” When some of those are down for cleaning, she says, the company is stuck rerouting to another area. “It’s not uncommon for us to travel 50 to 60 miles to pick up waste,” Sandy says.

Ken’s Septic Service covers about a four-county area, but there is a surprising amount of competition, Sandy says. “I have some really good competitors.” 

A classy fleet

Sandy credits her reliable equipment for her solid business reputation. She recently sent in her 2019 International HX620 as a Classy Trucks submission in Pumper. It’s painted Bright Star Blue Metallic, and it has a 5,000-gallon (all waste) Imperial Industries aluminum tank and National Vacuum Equipment 4307 blower from Mid-State Truck Service.

The truck is powered by a Cummins ISX 525 engine tied to an 18-speed transmission. Features include Garnet SeeLevel gauge, topside manway, 4-inch stainless steel load valve, 4-inch front air valve and 6-inch dump (all heated), 3-inch heated moisture trap, three toolboxes, locking differential, polished aluminum water tank, lighted skirting kit and rear work lights.

Interior features include air conditioning, Bluetooth stereo, air-ride seat, power windows, power heated mirrors and power locks. Graphics are by Acme Graphic. Clifford is the driver, and the truck is used to pump residential and commercial septic and holding tanks.

Ken’s Septic Service runs three trucks full time. The other trucks are a 2013 Peterbilt with 5,000-gallon Imperial Industries steel tank and National Vacuum Equipment pump and a brand-new 2020 International with 4,000-gallon painted aluminum tank by Advance Pump & Equipment.

That truck replaced a 2010 model. “You need to be able to roll,” Sandy says. “You can’t tell them you can’t come because your equipment isn’t working.”


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