Delivering the diverse services customers request has helped speed the growth of Blood Hound Underground
Mark Mason, president and CEO of Blood Hound Underground, is certain that listening to his customers is one of the biggest keys to the quick growth of his company.
Blood Hound's customers range from municipalities and engineers to property managers, excavating companies and environmental remediation firms. To them, customer service doesn’t just mean doing the work efficiently and effectively — it goes far beyond. “I expanded the company based on my customers’ needs. They would ask whether we had a sewer camera, and we responded by adding one to our suite of services. Customers like diversified companies, a company that can come on site and do multiple things. We pay attention to the industry and what customers want and need — and do everything in our capacity to stay aligned with our customer’s demands,” says Mason.
Mason started out in the industry locating utilities and eventually founded his own locating company in 1999. Today, Blood Hound offers a variety of services including mapping, EM locating, ground penetrating radar scanning, and underground pipe survey and inspections using Envirosight’s ROVVER X robotic camera crawler system. In 2015, Inc. 5000 recognized Blood Hound Underground as one of the fastest growing companies in America. Blood Hound had over 75 employees in mid-2016, with plans to hire more.
Strategic equipment purchases
When Blood Hound got into the underground inspection business in 2013, the decision to invest in Envirosight’s equipment was simple. Mason knew that eventually he wanted to add capabilities such as lateral launch; growing and scaling was a part of the company culture from the get-go. “Having the right equipment is imperative to the success of any company in our industry. Envirosight’s ROVVER X platform can grow in capability as we grow and scale our business,” Mason says.
Blood Hound purchased a lateral launch system to inspect laterals from a mainline — a necessary piece of equipment for any cross-bore mitigation projects — when customers started asking if they had that capability. “We bought our first RVX-SAT lateral launch system 2 1/2 years ago and today we have three. We closely analyze the utilization of our current equipment, and once it reaches a certain threshold we will acquire another piece,” Mason says.
Today Blood Hound Underground has three ROVVER X mainline inspection cameras, three ROVVER X-SAT lateral launch units, a ROVVER X 95 small-diameter crawler, a Verisight push camera and a Jetscan jetter camera.
Eventually Blood Hound Underground became one of the first companies to own a ROVVER X-SAT lateral launch system. “Also, simplicity is key in business,” says Mason. “Having a common platform also makes scaling our business easier. Envirosight’s various crawler technologies interoperate and leverage each other for cost efficiency along with giving us the opportunity to grow or move into new markets without the need of extensive cross-training — helping us optimize labor hours and equipment usage. Operators can pick up and work on whatever piece of equipment they need without having to relearn the software or controls.”
Preventive maintenance is embedded into Blood Hound’s company culture. “We are sticklers for making sure that the equipment we use is always ready for the next job. My operators are trained to know the importance of daily, weekly and monthly maintenance — and regardless of the condition of the equipment, we send it to Best Equipment’s local service center for a tune-up every winter so that it is ready to roll during our peak season.
“And when a piece of equipment’s service life is over, we invest in replacing it. It’s like B-52 bombers built in the ’50s that the military is still flying. At some point it costs more to maintain the equipment than it does to replace it. Our camera trucks are out eight to 12 hours every business day; we can’t afford downtime caused by an older system breaking down. Our customers rely on us to bring out equipment that is in good condition and gets the job done.
“My advice to people trying to grow in this industry is not to be afraid of diversification. Many of our competitors only provide one type of service. I understand that being overly diversified can also hinder growth, but so can being specialized. Find your sweet spot and don’t be afraid to add services as your business allows."
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