TV PIPE SOLUTIONS

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Chris Larson with C&L Water

Announcer (00:04):

Looking to expand his own knowledge of pipe reline and infrastructure rehabilitation, Brett Ekart embarks on the journey into the NO DIG construction world while interviewing experts in all facets of the industry. Hoping to find answers, here is Brett Ekart with Reline Unknown.

Brett Ekart (00:24):

This podcast with Chris Larson from C & L Water Solutions was awesome. Chris is similar in age to myself but has a ton more knowledge about the reline industry. He's a second generation operator/owner and all around smart guy. Take a listen.

Brett Ekart (00:41):

Thanks Chris for sitting down. Appreciate it. Good call on the breakfast this morning, tacos were good. The mushroom tacos, that was a good spot. Spent the last few hours BS-ing with you and that's been great. You're a family business second generation guy, I'm family business third generation guy, so we're cut from a similar cloth, a lot in common. Now let's get into a little bit of the reline stuff, so just give me a little bit of background on you, your company, and-

Chris Larson (01:17):

Yeah, '79, my parents started this business. I came along a few years later in '85, but it was definitely a mom and pop show. We ran a business out of their garage, in a single car garage in a little subdivision here in Centennial, Colorado. The business was founded in part from my dad working for a plumbing company. The plumbing company went under in a big development boom. They went under from that, and the districts that were left behind that they were doing a lot of the development work for came to my dad and said, "Hey, you were the lead guy there. We're left holding the bag, can you help us out?"

Chris Larson (02:01):

So he acquired a backhoe with help from my grandfather and they started running their business. And then from there on, it was about the same style business, emergency water and sewer repairs, 24 hours a day, 365, running special districts for the next, about 25 years. Then my brother and I came into the business later on after, as we grew and we took it, we started adding trenchless capabilities into the repertoire of services and main line open cut services.

Brett Ekart (02:36):

So your brother, younger brother or older brother?

Chris Larson (02:38):

Older.

Brett Ekart (02:39):

Older brother.

Chris Larson (02:39):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (02:39):

How many years?

Chris Larson (02:41):

Two.

Brett Ekart (02:41):

Two years older.

Chris Larson (02:42):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (02:42):

Okay. And you guys kind of do it the right way. You guys kind of, you have your lane, he has his lane and you guys kind of are able to collaborate but not step on each other's toes too hard.

Chris Larson (02:52):

Yeah, it is. Yeah. Actually, growing up we were the type of siblings that would beat the living piss out of each other, to be honest. We were... It wasn't probably 10 years ago, we had our last fist fight right here in this office in front of all of our employees. So we actually grew up kind of at odds with each other, we were totally different personalities. I was very much the sports, athletic, go out with friends, and he was very much into computers and he was the quiet genius type, very good at school, didn't have to study. I had to study my butt off. So we didn't really ever get along growing up.

Chris Larson (03:28):

And then we hit a point in life, it was actually him that kind of hit a point in life where he kind of grew up a little bit faster than what I felt. I was always feeling like I was more mature than him, and he actually mended our relationship and actually brought us together-

Brett Ekart (03:45):

Nice.

Chris Larson (03:45):

... and was the more mature one. And we are now so close and we meet for breakfast every week even though he runs a different type of business now, and he's still our chief technology officer here at C & L but we meet every week. We talk everyday on the phone, we see each other often throughout the day as well, so we're very close.

Brett Ekart (04:06):

Good, good. I got two sons. That's why I'm like, I grew up with a sister, so I'm always curious hearing about two sons and family business and I'm like, how deep am I going to go with my boys? And am I going to be watching them fist fight in the office some day?

Chris Larson (04:19):

Yeah, you might.

Brett Ekart (04:21):

What's it going to look like?

Chris Larson (04:21):

Yeah, one story. I was a big... You come back from the steel background, right? So you like to go out with torches and the welding and fabricate stuff I'm sure, you guys are doing that. Well, I would make go-karts and stuff out of tube steel that we had laying around and I'd weld up go carts and dune buggies and stuff like that. I remember being 13, 14 years old and I had a tiff with him in our backyard right over here, and guys were walking in from the end of the day and him and I had an argument and I ran, literally ran him down and he went over the top of the roll cage. So there will be blood.

Brett Ekart (04:56):

Yeah, I'm expecting that. It's already starting. We still can't put a coffee table in the middle of our living room because the boys are already starting to wrestle. So I know, I know it's coming. So C & L, you guys are obviously in the trenchless, the reline world, and you guys are also in the... There's basically two divisions of kind of what you guys are doing, right?

Chris Larson (05:18):

Three, yeah. We have three. We have our traditional services division, which is we run water and sewer districts or we help manage them, but we take care of the operations side of special districts specifically to water distribution, sewer collection. Then we have our open cut group, which is main line removal, replacements, new installations, specifically just for federal, state, and local governments. Then we have our trenchless division, which we have about nine different trenchless technologies that we operate in.

Brett Ekart (05:48):

Okay. So what was the main driver for you guys into the trenchless, the reline world industry? What was kind of the spark that started the fire for you guys to push into that?

Chris Larson (06:02):

Yeah, it was our customers essentially pushing on us. We've had some of the same customers for 40 years now and they came to us and their boards come to us and say, "You guys, you take care of all of our needs but we need to look at start getting into this trenchless stuff. Can you start looking into it?" Then my father kind of started looking around on Google and found a German company out of the Karlsruhe Germany area called ProKASRO and they're a well known company now. At that time, they were little known, but they had some of the best gear in the world and we got involved with them and we were one of six, seven people in the country that had that technology at the time.

Chris Larson (06:44):

It was robotics, UV cure technology for cured place pipe, and we were kind of a lone wolf at that time, especially in the western half the United States. Most of what happens in the US moves from Europe and into the east and then moves to the west. So we were really kind of on our own and we took it, we pretty much put everything on the line as far as financially goes, leveraging our homes to get the loans to get the equipment, and we had to make it work at that time. At that time, we were a really small company. We were only 12 people, 13 people. We had all of our other work to do still, so we put everything on the line and then that's what really got us into the business.

Chris Larson (07:25):

And it was very slow for first couple of years, almost went out of business, getting ready to close up shop and we acquired one large job through a big general contractor at the Denver Federal Center, which is here in a downtown area of Denver and we were lucky enough to acquire that contract, which we were contracted to rehab all of the sanitary sewer pipe on that facility. It's the largest federal government facility in United States. It's about 22,000, 23,000 feet of sewer pipe.

Brett Ekart (07:57):

Oh, wow.

Chris Larson (07:58):

That carried us, got us the momentum we needed, the consistency that we needed to get us going. During the course of that job ironically, because it's a federal government complex, they buried whatever they had in the yard for their sewer pipes, so we encountered all different types of materials, under sized pipes. That led us into pipe bursting so we got into the pipe bursting business because we needed to upsize some pipes and you can't dig out there.

Brett Ekart (08:22):

So that was a dig and replace job? Or-

Chris Larson (08:25):

It was a dig and replace and aligning job. It started out like that. We quickly realized there was contaminated soils on the site, it's just very difficult to dig. So they came to us and we started reaching out into our industry and the trenchless industry and finding other methods. So it led into pipe bursting and then the manholes, they're like, "Well if you don't have to dig up the pipe up, if you can pipe burst it, why do we have to replace the manholes? Can we rehab?" So then we got into manhole rehab, all these things, about two or three additional technologies came out of that one job. And that's what spring-boarded us off into all the other work that we do now, was really that one job.

Brett Ekart (09:03):

It's always fascinating to me how people get into the reline industry, right? I've always said that, I mean our story of how we got into it was via purchasing Interflow and going the solid wall mechanical joint route in an industry that we didn't know really even was that in depth and existed that much. And we've been in the pipe business for a long time, since the 70s just like yourself. So I'm always curious like, "Hey, how'd you get into it? And kind of what was the main driver?"

Brett Ekart (09:33):

So when you guys got into the relining business, I mean I always ask this question, is there like a big eye-opener or something that you didn't really anticipate or expect or that was cool or interesting about reline industry? I think you kind of answered as far as like running into all kinds of... When you're doing that first job, you run into all kinds of... It's kind of a... [crosstalk 00:10:00]

Chris Larson (10:00):

There's a learning curve.

Brett Ekart (10:01):

It's a learning curve, it's also you don't know what's underneath, what's buried, right?

Chris Larson (10:05):

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, the cut and cover world, going and throwing buckets in the ground, that's easy really when you think about it. I mean it's not easy from the social disruption and the economic disruption that it causes to what the public sees, but you can always stop for the day and pick up where you left off. There's always a way around it, but the costs go up. The costs keep going on. The thing that we discovered with the trenchless, there was a large learning curve and there is a lot at stake. Every time you put a liner in the ground, you're effecting hundreds of feet of pipe at a time, whether it's a slip line pipe or a CIPP pipe, if something goes wrong with trenchless, it's all wrong and it's all bad all at once.

Chris Larson (10:52):

And it's the little things that cause it to go wrong, like not tying a rope the right way or not paying attention to one little detail in the pipe that caused a puncture in your pipe or whatever. But what we found is, is that after that learning curve, the trenchless really was lowering our risk. It was mitigating our risk, it was lowering our costs because if we controlled it right and we did it right and we applied the right product in the right situation, not trying to use a pipe wrench when you need a hammer type thing-

Brett Ekart (11:23):

Yeah, the right tool for the job.

Chris Larson (11:26):

The right tool for the job, right, then it really actually made life a whole lot easier than going the cut and cover route. So that was probably the biggest eye opener for us is we didn't realize how powerful it was, what we had our hands around. We were more trying to keep our head above water. But once we figured out how to swim, life got really interesting.

Brett Ekart (11:45):

Because there's a lot of work out there, right? I mean that as far as that there's a lot more potential work that people don't even know because they haven't either inspected the pipe, or they don't have the funds available to redo and reline some of these projects. I think it's a growing industry, I think there's a lot coming along the lines. And us being in the west, I'm from Boise, you're from the Denver area, it's just starting to catch on compared to say the midwest and east coast, but it's coming like a freight train.

Chris Larson (12:21):

It is coming like a freight train, and I think nationwide though. I think it more so in the midwest and the west, we have a bigger problem ahead of us with there's very little education out there as you and I were discussing, a lot of folks don't even know what... Actually, it's funny when I hear, talk to an owner that doesn't know anything, they know of lining, they'll call everything slip line.

Brett Ekart (12:42):

Yeah.

Chris Larson (12:42):

CIPP is slip lining, and slip lining is slip lining. And it's just they get the two confused so there's a drastic need for education out there, but there is a big problem ahead of us where, especially in storm water which is a lot of your business, we see a big disconnect on what people know is actually going on there, because it's usually out of sight, out of mind. Most of our cross road culverts in rural areas are full of silt anyway so they don't even function.

Chris Larson (13:14):

What they don't know is once you remove that silt, that pipe is probably going to collapse because the bottom's eaten out. So we have a big issue, especially in the stormwater side. We haven't even really gotten a chance to touch all of our infrastructure. Our potable water infrastructures we're seeing what the Flint disaster and other areas around the country where they're now starting to scrutinize, it's a disaster. It is a looming crisis and we don't have the funds to touch it because the problem is when you look at when was the last time you really realized, how much did you pay for your sewer service?

Brett Ekart (13:49):

Yeah.

Chris Larson (13:50):

It was like maybe included with your garbage collection for wastewater and waste management for the city you live in and you may be paid 20 bucks a month for it and then your water bill's maybe between 100 and or 80 to 100 bucks depending on where you live. Some areas of the country, it's like 10 bucks if there's a plethora of water. But it's not enough when you look at Excel, or not Excel, but gas energy supply or electric energy supply, if you run the heat all winter, you could be $300, $400 for your bill.

Chris Larson (14:21):

And you look at those utility companies and they're flush with money, they got nice trucks, and you look at your water department and they're running with a 1987 Chevy down the road. So we have a big disconnect in the country on what this infrastructure is worth to us and we're not funding it like we should. We should be willing to pay more to get it up to grade because it is far, far behind all the other infrastructures.

Brett Ekart (14:43):

And that's kind of what this podcast about, like you and I discussed is it's as much about bringing awareness to the industry, it's about getting people aware of these problems that exists, what's going on, and the funds are going to have to be placed and be accounted for somehow, some way. We fight a similar battle on the recycling side. Your trash cost $5, $6 and it disappears, nobody wants to know where it goes as long as it's not in their backyard or as long as it goes away.

Brett Ekart (15:11):

It's similar in the sewer water industry where hey, as long as I can turn on my faucet and I can get clean water and it's only costing me $10, $20 a month, I'm okay with that, right? People are going to have to kind of understand that if you want clean water it's not going to cost you $20 or $30 a month. At some point when the infrastructure wears out like it starting to, those funds have to come from somewhere.

Chris Larson (15:39):

They do, and we can't rely on our government to pull it out of their rear ends. We as the taxpayer are going to have to pay for it.

Brett Ekart (15:47):

Yep.

Chris Larson (15:47):

The user or the end user will eventually have to pay for it. It is great to see though that we're at a point in life where the technology has also come quite a long way. A lot of the pipe that you guys are in the business with, the spray technologies, the sub line pipe, the snap type pipe, in the past that stuff wasn't available. The techniques were available, but the technology has come a long way. Likewise with the lining systems that we do, the UVCIPP and the pipe bursting and fusible seam in, that's our fusible PVCs that are out there nowadays.

Chris Larson (16:21):

It's changing the game and it's making it more cost effective and we can get it done quicker than we have been able to in the past or with putting buckets in the ground. But we still have a situation where our infrastructure's failing faster than we have time or money for, so it's pertinent that politically and locally, on a local level, that we get moving forward and we start trying to start explaining that we're going to have to pay more for this stuff.

Brett Ekart (16:49):

Yeah, exactly. So my question for you is, I mean, you guys, you said you operate in like basically 9 different trenchless technologies.

Chris Larson (16:57):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (16:57):

Do you guys have a couple in your wheelhouse or that you see the most call for in this area? I mean, just having the ability to do nine different ones is awesome, right? It's like being the Swiss army knife of reline. I mean, you have the ability to do it because the more I've dived deep into this industry, there is no set one-size-fits-all product that goes in every pipe. I've really kind of... If I've taken away one thing in the last two years, that's it. So in this area and with your company, what drives the bus for you more than any other product? I mean a couple of two, three, four, whatever kind of you feel is your wheelhouse.

Chris Larson (17:40):

Yeah, I guess it depends on what sector you're in. If you're in the sanitary sewer market, our go-to's has been the UV cure, LMK lateral rehabilitation systems, which is the called the T-liner system. And then manhole rehabilitation, we have three different manhole restructure rehab options; and epoxy coatings, geopolymers, and structural inserts, structural inserts where you pop the lid off or the cone off the structure and you install a fiberglass reinforced polymer or polymer manhole inside of the existing manhole and you grout the inner space, and it thereby replaces the concrete manhole with a corrosion resistant structure.

Chris Larson (18:22):

So that's in the sanitary sewer space. The stormwater space is... I really enjoy storm water, to be honest. It's lower stress, you're not bypassing sewer flows, you're not worrying about homeowners backing up or coming out to complain. You're in a much different type of market and there's a lot more options available I believe in the storm water market. You have a dozen different slipline products on the market, you have spray products on the market, and you can also use cured in place pipe, aligning for the pipes. And then the structures, the inlet structures and all those types of structures can be coated with corrosion-resistant coatings as well.

Brett Ekart (18:57):

Sometimes products that maybe weren't even intended to be reline products initially when they were probably going through R & D-

Chris Larson (19:06):

Yeah, I mean-

Brett Ekart (19:06):

... now you're starting to see some of those products come in and be potential reline opportunities.

Chris Larson (19:13):

The one that I saw recently that blew me away is this rhino lining stuff, or the rhino lining in the back of pickup trucks is now applying their coating into infrastructure solutions. So that's another one that blew us away. But yeah, I mean that's what we like to do for the sewer and the storm is the geopolymers as well, the CIPP, and then Snap-Tite pipe and those types of solutions for slip lining. Then in the water side, the advent, which is recently in the last 12 years or so of fusible PVC products now being available has really changed the game for like water line pipe bursting. It's been a very advantageous product for that.

Chris Larson (19:56):

There's some, in its infancy stages I believe still, but there are some CIPP products for waterline. Waterline is a whole different animal. The problem with water is it's a shallower infrastructure, it doesn't need to be as deep as say sewer or in some of your stormwater cases where the removal and replacement of water is still relatively cheap compared to digging 10, 12, 15, 18 feet deep for sanitary sewer. So open cut removal replacement methods are still the predominant method for water because your trenchless methods that are available out there, the material costs because it's drinking water, it is potable water, are so high.

Brett Ekart (20:37):

And it's pressurized.

Chris Larson (20:38):

Pressurized, yeah. You add all these elements-

Brett Ekart (20:39):

A whole nother element to it, right.

Chris Larson (20:39):

... into it, and if you have a little bit of error in there, boy you're going down the wrong river quick.

Brett Ekart (20:45):

Yeah. So when you guys are... I assume you didn't just automatically start with nine trenchless technologies, that you eventually kind of evolved, you found one, "Oh that one's good. We can deploy that for this job and this one for that job." What do you use for resources when you're looking for like what's up and coming? What's new? I mean, is it a trade show thing? Is it just scan the internet, looking at case studies? I mean you've written a couple of case studies from what I've heard. I mean how do you find what's new and what's coming up?

Chris Larson (21:19):

Yeah, exactly. I would say the big one is trade shows and then social media is another one. But being connected internationally, so we go to a lot of international trade shows. And then we'll connect with folks at those international trade shows and LinkedIn is, believe it or not, is a big one, they're everywhere around the world and you connect with folks on LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook, and once you're connected then you're seeing projects that are happening all around the world.

Chris Larson (21:47):

We think we have complicated infrastructure, go over the old world Europe and those type of areas where they have brick paved thousand year old roads, and they had to real quick figure out how to avoid digging that kind of infrastructure up when you have buildings that are 15 feet apart and your road is only 10 feet, 12 feet wide.

Brett Ekart (22:09):

Oh yeah.

Chris Larson (22:10):

So we found that being an international voyager, so to speak, and going out and researching what the Chinese are doing, what the Germans are doing, what's UK doing and showing up and shaking hands and being active, that's where we found a lot of what we do.

Brett Ekart (22:29):

Yeah, no, that's the first time I've heard anybody really say that, going to the international... I was in Ireland last year and we went to the Guinness factory, and that Guinness factory has been there for 200 years, 200 and some change, something like that. And it just builds on and add on to it over the years, but what's crazy about that is the brick roads and the infrastructure there, and you're like, it's a whole different ball game and I could see where everything is tighter so I could see where being able to apply some of what they're doing over here where we're a little bit more wide open, we're a little bit newer, too.

Chris Larson (23:10):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (23:10):

We got a little more real estate to work with.

Chris Larson (23:12):

Yeah, absolutely. The ground footprint in America is huge, yeah.

Brett Ekart (23:16):

Yeah. So without naming any specific job sites or contracts or anything, is there any time you'd ever went into a job and had to fix somebody else's work or something that wasn't done correctly or the wrong product was used? And if so, why do you think that product was used? Or are you guys just strictly just trying to put out fires that haven't been put out yet?

Chris Larson (23:45):

No, we're a little bit of both. Like I said, I was telling you earlier, we're a little bit of a niche contractor. We don't bid a lot of work, we work primarily based on relationships. So those relationships usually call us up when they find something that's maybe a few years out of warranty and it's failed and they have us come in and analyze was it the wrong product, did we specify the wrong product for this application or was there a contractor material error here and how can we correct that if we reapply the same product or this application? So we attack it from both sides and there are, we're in a couple of contracts right now where there's some extensive warranty issues that weren't addressed and wrong product, wrong application, and we're in there trying to fix it-

Brett Ekart (24:34):

Is it cost-driven a lot of times? Do you think people are putting them in there-

Chris Larson (24:36):

Absolutely.

Brett Ekart (24:37):

... just because they're trying to save a little bit of money on the front end, not really realizing that it's going to cost you more money on the back end to fix?

Chris Larson (24:43):

Well that's a fix. That's a really sore subject with me. It's an American trait that I wish we didn't have, and that's addiction to low price. I've lost bids, let me talk about the one I just recently lost. I lost it by $1,000 on, what was it, 340 grand or something along those lines.

Brett Ekart (25:07):

Yeah.

Chris Larson (25:07):

Under $1,000, and then I know the product that's going in there and I'm sitting there going, "Oh Lord, help him." And it had nothing to do with the contractor or anything like that, but it's-

Brett Ekart (25:18):

It's product driven.

Chris Larson (25:19):

... the application.

Brett Ekart (25:20):

Yeah.

Chris Larson (25:20):

Yeah. Like I was telling some folks the other day, I said "You have manholes" and everybody's like, "Oh this product stinks and mine's better." And I'm like, "No, it's not so much the product as in this particular case, if you don't do the substrate preparation right, I can get latex paint to last longer than your epoxy's going to last on that wall because I'm going to prep the surface right."

Brett Ekart (25:43):

Yeah. It's like to paint a car-

Chris Larson (25:45):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (25:45):

... if you don't do the body work, sand it, you don't get all the imperfections out before you paint, you're going to see everything and it's not going to last.

Chris Larson (25:53):

Yeah. So, and that's the problem with low prices is those little fine, key points that get missed in specifications are overrun by the contractor's desire to get the job. Then they'll put in the cheapest product they can find, on top of that, they're going to skip A, B, and C steps, and by the time their tail lights go over the top of the hill and their warranty's gone, they're long gone and the owner's left holding the bag.

Brett Ekart (26:20):

Yeah.

Chris Larson (26:20):

So that is a problem, a huge problem. We need to move from being addicted to low price and addicted to cheap, inferior or inadequately designed products for those applications, to sustainable design and qualified installers. Not based on price.

Brett Ekart (26:42):

Because there's some products you have to be a qualified installer to even step on the job site and there's some products they're like "Yeah this is a self-performing or whatever, anybody can install it." And I've always been curious of who determined that. I would assume that it's the manufacturer that determines whether their product can be installed by any Joe Blow, or is that driven by the manufacturers?

Chris Larson (27:05):

Usually it can be driven by the manufacturer but where the owner has a card in this game is by specifying, having strong qualification and performance, the other keyword is performance based specifications. If it's qualifications and performance based, then they're choosing the product set based on prior history and application to that particular job, and then the qualifications of the contractor, being they have a prior history, applying with a well documented history with references and whatnot, applying that product to that specific application.

Chris Larson (27:41):

That's where we're actually seeing and we're pushing for more of construction management at risk type work design, build type work, CMGC type work, where the pricing is integrated into a RFQ format where the product, the contractor, the references, their safety record, their financials, and their price for construction are all considered as a part of the proposal.

Brett Ekart (28:05):

Not just the price.

Chris Larson (28:06):

Not just the price.

Brett Ekart (28:07):

Yeah. Which makes sense because when you're dealing with infrastructure and especially if you're dealing with potable water or sewer or some big storm water runoff it's crucial to the keeping the flow correct so as you're out flooding out people's houses or whatever the case may be, I mean it shouldn't be just a price issue. I mean like you're saying, you guys have been doing it since the late 70s. Doing it this long, you've been through the gamut, you kind of are pretty well versed in A, different applications, but B, what can go wrong if it's not done correctly. And you shouldn't be able to just start up and fire up, fire some low price out and then go try and figure out how to do the job once you get there, and what products you're going to use.

Chris Larson (28:52):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (28:54):

So is there a common obstacle or unusual expense that you kind of have to take into account for your reline projects? Is there something out there that's just the unknown?

Chris Larson (29:06):

Yeah, I think there's always unknown and risk that's carried into any project, but usually price compensates for risk that the contractor takes. Although I wish more contractors would bid more risk into their jobs, but that's for them to decide. It is like I said with trenchless, if you're going to get into the business of trenchless, be prepared to be a detail oriented company. If you ignore the details or if you're more focused on how fast can I get this done, you're going to miss one key step and it could be five minutes of doing X, Y, Z, and then you go to do the next step in the process and the whole thing, the whole tower will come tumbling down.

Chris Larson (29:54):

And that's really the one thing that I would say in estimate preparation or whether your decision of getting into the business or not, the key, the fact is you have to be prepared to be detail orientated and methodical. If you're that way and on the customer side if you're service orientated, trench;ess will be a good business for you. If you're not and you're a blow and go guy, it's going to kick you in the butt.

Brett Ekart (30:19):

In your opinion then you think that you'd have to be even more detailed oriented on the trenchless side than like your open cut?

Chris Larson (30:25):

Oh yeah.

Brett Ekart (30:26):

Excavate and rebuild stuff.

Chris Larson (30:27):

Yeah, yeah. Because you look at open cut, you go down the road and you start ripping up asphalt and you don't pull your box tight to your installation process and you leave a little bit of gap in between boxes for example, you have a cave off. It's not the end of the world. Yeah, it stinks, but it's not the end of the world. In trenchless, that one little gap that you leave in between the processes takes all that pipe that you just put in the ground open cut and it's put a bomb inside of it and blow it up.

Brett Ekart (30:54):

Yeah.

Chris Larson (30:55):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (30:55):

Just start from scratch.

Chris Larson (30:56):

Start from scratch, yeah.

Brett Ekart (30:58):

Start it again.

Chris Larson (30:58):

Yep.

Brett Ekart (30:59):

So what do you enjoy the most about your job, the reline industry as a whole? What kind of makes it easy for you to get out up?

Chris Larson (31:11):

Oh, it's definitely the people. Starting with our own, my managers, my crews, everybody in our supply chains, my mentors are all people... I didn't learn the trenchless business from hard knocks. I started my foundation and trenchless came from my mentors, and those are people that have been doing this for longer than I've been alive, easy.

Brett Ekart (31:37):

So give me a mentor or two, give me somebody that's helped you, [crosstalk 00:31:42]. I'm sure there's a ton and I'm interested, give me a name or two.

Chris Larson (31:47):

There's a bunch, Mark Hallett with SAERTEX multiCom, Dave Holcomb with TT Technologies, Mike Jarrett with LNK Technologies. These guys are definitely strong mentors of mine. I admire them and they taught me a lot about the business. And yeah, that's on the mentorship side, the people's great in the supply chain, and then the people on the business side-

Brett Ekart (32:14):

Sure.

Chris Larson (32:15):

Like I was telling you in the car the other day, a lot of people at the end of the year look at their financial statements and they'll go through and they'll look at, "Okay, here's my costs, here's my gross profit, here's that, what did I make on the year?" I look at, "Okay, how many new families did we bring in this year?" And that's how I measure success, and you and I were talking about just the best-

Brett Ekart (32:39):

The HR driven company.

Chris Larson (32:40):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (32:40):

Not a PnL driven company.

Chris Larson (32:40):

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, a HR driven company.

Brett Ekart (32:43):

Obviously you have to make money to keep the lights on. That's so different than a tech business or a door business, but you still, if you're an HR driven company, it's easier to grow because people actually know you care about their livelihood and how they're feeding their family.

Chris Larson (33:00):

Exactly. Yeah, that's definitely the pay off for me.

Brett Ekart (33:05):

Yeah. And you get to still work with your parents?

Chris Larson (33:07):

Yeah. It's enjoyable enough, but-

Brett Ekart (33:10):

Yeah, it has this moments. I know firsthand, like if anybody can speak on that, I've had my battles as well. Good and bad, but I mean I wouldn't have it any other way.

Chris Larson (33:23):

Right. I agree with you. Yeah.

Brett Ekart (33:25):

So last question is what can be done in your opinion to bring more awareness to the reline industry as a whole and the infrastructure issues as a whole that as a country we're facing? People talk about the infrastructure, the airports and this and that, but I think that the water, the sewer, the runoff, all that, those kinds of get glossed over. But what in your opinion can drive more awareness?

Chris Larson (34:00):

Exactly what we're doing here today. You guys are doing exactly what we should be doing in today's age, is reaching out to our youth and energizing them and letting them know that there is a career and a lifestyle that can be had, that I think the tables have flopped. Everybody when I was growing up, my parents were like, "You don't want to work in the pipe business. Look at your father." I would walk on my dad's back after he'd get home from work and I'd feel the knots in his back loosen up. I remember just walking on his back as a little kid to get him to relax afterwards. He'd tell me "You don't want to work in this business, go be a doctor or a lawyer. Go be a stock trader or something like that and make a ton of money."

Chris Larson (34:47):

Now, all my friends that when I went to college with, there's still some of them looking for the jobs they went and got their education in. So I think the tables have turned and we have such a drastic disconnect, especially in quantity of high quality people that want to come into this arena. So I think if we can reach out to the generations coming up, those people will include the people that will be managing the state agencies, that government agencies that will be driving this work, and I think that we need to do more of this.

Chris Larson (35:23):

We need to do more of the social media. We need to do lunch and learns, old fashioned lunch and learns. We need to do old fashioned shaking hands, and we need to mobilize a force that is out to get the word out and let it be known that we've got some problems coming folks and we need to get on it.

Brett Ekart (35:42):

Get them addressed, yeah.

Chris Larson (35:43):

Yeah.

Brett Ekart (35:43):

All right. If people want to get a hold of you at C & L, what's the best way to get ahold of you, email? Website? What's the best way to get ahold of you?

Chris Larson (35:54):

Yah, email would probably be the easiest. My email is a clarson, L-A-R-S-O-N, @clwsi.com. That's C & L Water Solutions Inc.

Brett Ekart (36:07):

And the website?

Chris Larson (36:08):

The website is www.clwsi.com.

Brett Ekart (36:14):

Awesome.

Chris Larson (36:14):

Cool.

Brett Ekart (36:15):

Thank you, sir.

Chris Larson (36:15):

Thank you.

Brett Ekart (36:16):

Appreciate it.

Brett Ekart (36:19):

America's aging underground infrastructure will need to be dealt with in the upcoming years. Our mission with Reline Unknown is to help individuals and organizations gain insight into the pipe, reline, and infrastructure world and help process the key decision, reline or replace. Thank you for listening.