GTO Grease Traps Services was featured in American Liquid Waste Magazine
One of our companies, GTO Grease Traps Services, was featured in the September 2015 issue of American Liquid Waste Magazine
Restaurants are undoubtedly the most prevalent businesses in operation compared to other businesses. There are more restaurant businesses per capita than any other business and a company that finds a special niche and can establish working relationships with enough restaurants to develop a healthy and successful company, will definitely put them on the right track. That’s exactly what GTO Grease Trap Services, located in Philadelphia, PA has done. Every restaurant creates grease during the cooking process and, especially with laws prohibiting the careless disposal of FOG, or fat, oil, and grease, find a company that services exclusively grease traps, and you have found one always growing and very successful company. What follows is an interview with Mike Lozano, General Manager of GTO Great Trap Services, affectionately known as “Grease Traps Only.”
Can you tell me about the history of the company? How did the company get its start? Who started it and when? Who runs it now?
Termac Corporation was formed a little over 50 years ago by Terence O’Reilly Sr. Mr. O’Reilly left his homeland of Ireland and came to the United States looking to make a new start. He took out a small loan and started servicing dishwashers. It’s a classic American success story. Overtime he grew that business into a very successful company, with his two sons, Sean and Terence Jr., working beside him, and at the same time learning the business from the ground up. There wasn’t a job that the two sons couldn’t do—they did everything and, as time progressed, with hard work and determination, the O’Reilly’s started another company, known as The Filter Man, which, by the way, just celebrated its 25th year as a successful company. Through that company we rent and sell grease filters in ventilation hoods in restaurants and institutions. Filter Man was a great fit with Termac the parent company because they service commercial kitchens just like the Termac dishwashers. A few years went by and slowly Sean and Terry were brought to the forefront to run the company. The O’Reilly brothers, Sean and Terry, hired me to run the Filter Man Company and to help grow it. They also hired me with a vision to start a grease trap cleaning business. And that is how we started GTO Grease Trap Services. With numerous successful marketing campaigns in tandem with all of the Termac and Filter Man customers, GTO just grew and grew. With constant target direct mail marketing and telemarketing we were really able to take it to the next level, and the company continues to grow year after year.
The Termac family of businesses have been so successful that last year Termac purchased two sister companies, AllPro metal, which makes commercial metal fabricated kitchen hoods, stainless steel tables, and shelving, and UniPro, a company that services fire suppression systems in restaurants and supplies fire extinguishers to many businesses. All of our companies are interrelated because they are all connected to commercial kitchens. I now manage the four subdivisions of Termac: The Filter Man, GTO Grease Trap Services, AllPro and UniPro. In addition to the owners, Sean and Terry, and I, the manager, there are eight other people that work for the company. Two are administrative and six are technicians. We are in the process of hiring another technician due to expansion.
What are the keys to your great success in coming to dominant in your field of grease trap servicing?
At the end of the day it’s all about customer service. And that’s just not lip service it’s truly the backbone of our company. I’d like to believe that we really try to help people out. And when you do that, people stay with you; they trust you and they recommend you to others, creating a positive chain reaction of referral after referral. For us it means going the extra mile especially in grease trap cleaning. Plus, we are hands down grease trap experts, servicing literally hundreds over the five years GTO has been in operation.
How would you describe the company’s professionalism and work ethic? How does your company philosophy inform its work ethic, employee relations, and customer and business relations/situations?
Our business philosophy is based on customer service and taking care of the customer. It’s about answering the phone and getting back to the customers immediately. There is nothing like a real person calling them back, helping them with the problem and scheduling a service. It’s this philosophy that we try to instill in everyone who works for us from the ownership right down to the person sweeping the warehouse, and everyone in between.
Experts talk of a company owner having a “vision” a stated purpose or set of goals and aspirations that can inspire employees and managers alike to know they belong to something and can strive for excellence by following that vision. My question is: what is the “vision” at GTO?
Our vision is to be best grease trap cleaning business in our area, and to be known as an honest, caring and professional service.
Have you established a set of core values that can make an emotional connection to your target clientele?
Our core values are directly connected to our customers and how we treat them through our employees. You’re only as good as the people that work for you. We instill in all of our employees the importance of excellent customer service, friendly, informative, and respectful. We also call our customers and reach out to them regularly to schedule service and to make sure that everything is running correctly.
How do you boost efficiency in your jobs and your workers? How do you boost morale in your workers? What do you expect of them? Who trains them, and what is the training process?
When we first hire a technician there is a substantial training process which includes me or Sean or Terry going out with the technician and teaching them the correct way to clean traps and service our customers. We do that for about a week before we let them work on their own. We have training programs that we have for our drivers that are required to maintain our business as well as OSHA based training. We keep morale up by speaking with our technicians in a respectful and caring way. We also offer bonuses when our technicians sell our services to other customers. All of our technicians have been with us for years and they are a loyal and hard-working bunch of expert grease trap cleaners a company could ever hope for.
Tell me about your day-to-day operations.
Our day-to-day operation is pretty straightforward. We schedule our customers on a regular basis. We call them and let them know that we are coming out and then we service them. We also have a tele-marking division that makes calls out for new business as well as direct mail marketing.
Please give me a sense of how many grease traps you pump and service, and inspect on a weekly or monthly basis. How many clients would you say you service on a regular basis?
We probably service about 25 -50 customers per day, from Eastern PA to New Jersey, to Delaware, to Baltimore, MD, to Washington, DC.. We service dozens of chain restaurants; a sample would include the following: McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Dominos, Dunkin’ Donuts, Five Guys Steaks, Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme, Muscle Maker Grill, Papa John’s Pizza, Jersey Mike’s Delicatessens, Primos Hoagies, Firehouse Subs, as well as many others.
What kind of strategies and policies do you have when it comes to environmental issues?
The product that we take from customers is basically recycled through our local treatment facility. We have also partnered with Drexel University, helping them coming up with a way to use this product and turn it into useable biodiesel. Scientist entrepreneurs at Drexel are developing technologies to transform “brown grease” into an inexpensive fuel that is environmentally friendly. We try to operate our company in a respectful way regarding the environment. We try to cut down on paper by e-billing customers when we can. We follow all laws and rules that apply to our company and the way we conduct our business. We only dump our liquid wastes at state authorized dump sites, and we are certified by local Board of Health agencies in townships where we do our work. In fact, we hire a compliance consulting firm that works with us to make sure that we are compliant all the way around, from insurance issues, dumping issues, to legal requirements set by county and local state agencies. We take the law and environmental issues very seriously—it is built into of our company philosophy and vision.
Tell me about your fleet of pumper trucks and your other grease trap cleaning equipment.
We basically have two types of vehicles. We have our small vacuum trucks and we have one large vacuum truck. The four small trucks are Ford F550s chassis turbo-diesels. They are all equipped with 1200 gallon aluminum tanks. They are also all outfitted with Masport Vacuum/Pressure Pumps that are equipped with heavy duty bearing and end thrust protection, which prevents the rotor from coming into contact with the end covers during operation. We like the small trucks because they are great for getting at out-of-the-way kitchens, which are usually in the back of the restaurant, some at the end of alley ways. Our large truck is a 2008 International with a 4000 gallon tank. There’s also an additional 700 gallon tank to support the high-pressure jetting unit on that truck. We carry about 250 feet of jetter hose on the truck. The truck is also equipped with a Masport Vacuum Pump. We have recently contracted to purchase a new large pumper truck which is a Peterbilt vehicle. That again will have a 4000 gallon aluminum tank equipped with a Masport Vacuum Pumps. It will also have a high pressure jetting unit, which will have 350 gallons of fresh water to support the jetter. We strive to be a one-stop-shop when it comes to servicing grease traps. A typical service includes: opening the trap, pumping, cleaning, and sanitizing the trap, then resealing it and finally flow testing it to assure all blockages have been successfully removed.
As part of our grease trap collecting machinery, GTO also keeps on hand a Condé Provac Industrial Pump, which is ideal for jobs where the trap is located in a difficult area that the large trucks can’t access. It is completely portable and therefore can be brought into restaurant kitchens that are inaccessible by vehicle or jetter hose. It can even be used with kitchens that are on the second floor of a building. We choose to use the Condé Provac unit because it’s ideal for grease trap pumping, easy to maneuver in hard-to-get places, extremely quiet, and pumps an incredible 120 gallons per minute. It even has a built in exhaust deodorizer that keeps foul odors at a minimum, a seemingly small feature that we found is much appreciated by our customers. The unit cost $5,000 but, given how much we use it, the investment was well worth it.
How did you arrive at creating a unique image or identity for your company? How do you position your company in the local liquid waste market” What are the major differences that make your company stand out?
We arrived to the image of a company by many conversations between me and the owners. We brainstormed over and over about what would work and what might not work. And once we agreed we executed. We marketed our company through our parent company, Termac. I think the major differences between us and our competition is that we show up with sparkling clean vehicles, that our drivers are always in their white GTO uniforms and when we do our service we spray out a deodorizer to keep the smell to a minimum. Our technicians explain what they do to the customers, and always ask what observations the customer recognized that could make our service the best service they ever had. Another thing is we only service grease traps. A lot of companies that are in the same business are involved in septic tank servicing, etc. We use this point to our advantage. Our professionalism, level of technical service, and customer service are well worth the price we charge. Visit GTO’s website if you are interested in learning more about the company. It is: www.gtoservices.biz.