Williams Sewer & Drain, Inc. recently celebrated 50 years of providing service to Thomson, McDuffie County, and the surrounding areas.
For nearly 30 years, Scott Williams has led the business. Originally, the septic tank business spun off from what his father, Jerry Williams, was doing.
Jerry Williams owned and operated Williams Contracting, which later became Jerry Williams & Sons Septic Tank Service, and then evolved into Williams Sewer & Drain. The elder Williams had a contracting business grading and clearing off lots and then got into septic tank cleaning and installation.
“We bought the first septic tank pumping permit in McDuffie County in 1969,” Scott Williams , the president of Williams Sewer & Drain, said.
For many years, the septic tank and service portion of the family business was just done on the side. The elder Williams became the county roads superintendent from 1976 to 1983. In 1983, he began working for the Bank of Thomson, which changed names several times during his tenure.
“When I was in high school we would do this on the side,” said Scott Williams.
He explained that after high school he did not want to pursue college, so he took a job with Dudley Nurseries. But, he continued to help work the septic business after work, at nights, and on weekends.
“Our side business became so busy. I remember one night we worked until 11:30 at night, and I had already put in a full day at Dudley and I came home and said ‘Daddy if we’ve got this much business we need to be doing this full time and we need better equipment,’ and he agreed,” recalls the younger Williams.
From there, the company became a full-time venture for Scott Williams in January 1990.
“Even though we had a pretty good customer base we needed a lot more customer base to generate a full-time company. It was a struggle for a number of years, and it just kind of grew from there,” he said.
He tells of how at the time they would do a little bit of everything, including pressure washing, as the business was growing.
What started as a septic tank pumping and installation company now has grown into a business ready to accommodate many assorted customer needs.
“We have become a full- service plumbing company,” said Williams, who is one of three state licensed plumbers on staff.
Services include septic tank pumping and installation plus jobs that require sewer jetting equipment, video camera systems, and water leak and sewer leak detection devices. Williams Sewer & Drain also has a large business servicing grease traps — which need to be serviced quarterly and means they need to be pumped out, grease hauled away for disposal, and the lines cleaned.
“One thing evolved into the next thing. So, when you are in the septic tank business and you service the septic tank sometimes the sewer to the house would still stop up, which requires you to become a drain cleaner because the customer didn’t want you to just pump out the septic tank. They wanted to be able to flush their toilets when you leave,” Williams said.
As one thing led to the next, Williams Sewer & Drain added equipment and continued to grow.
“It’s all related to plumbing. When you flush your toilet or turn on your faucet you expect water to come out and you expect it to go down the drain and we can make those two things happen,” he said.
Now multiple crews specialize in different tasks to service customers locally, and within about a 60 mile radius of Thomson.
“Pretty much anything on the residential and commercial side of plumbing and some industrial we’re equipped to handle now,” he said. For many of those tasks, workers have to be certified and have annual training.
For Williams, he does not want his workers, his trucks, or his business to be stereotyped because they work with septic tanks and sewage.
“I want our image to be that anybody wouldn’t mind us being in their house,” he said. Workers are dressed in uniforms or shirts that make them easy to identify as WSD employees, their shirt tails are tucked in, and the trucks are kept clean and neat looking.
Maintaining that professional, clean image carried over to even the building of a new office a few years go. Rather than designing a metal building, Williams had an office built with more of a residential office look. He knows that the business has grown within a residential area along Stagecoach Road and strives to be a good neighbor.
“We’re a company that has trucks and equipment and all that stuff and that could be unfavorable in a neighborhood. So, we go above and beyond to make sure its okay that we’re in the neighborhood,” he said.
“We wanted to build something classy so that the neighbors wouldn’t mind us being here,” he said. Williams Sewer & Drain also maintains, cuts, and picks up roadside trash along almost a mile of Stagecoach Road.
“We want to be part of the community,” he said.
That means through the years Williams Sewer & Drain has always been a supporter of the local high school and athletic programs.
“We try to be there to support them and we want to be part of the community, as we have been for 50 years,” Williams said. “We want everybody to know we appreciate their business.”
As the company grows, to now nearly 30 employees, Williams still cherishes the main thing he learned from his dad.
“The biggest thing more than anything, he has taught me how to treat people and how to deal with customers,” Williams said.
But, he also knows to value his employees and currently has five employees with more than 15 years of service, and two with nearly 20.
“We had no intentions, no thought that we would have nearly 30 employees. It’s just grown to that point,” he said.
“We’ve had to evolve. Every time there is a new piece of technology to make what we do better, we’re going to figure out how to get that to make our guys safer,” said Williams.
The company offers paid holidays and paid vacation time off, after one year of service, and insurance.
“We have the best plumbing team and office staff in this business,” he said.