The History of Roto-Rooter
In 1935 Samuel Blanc invented the electric machine for cleaning drains by attaching an old washing machine engine to a cable. Because of the rotation of the cable and the blade on the end to cut through roots, his wife came up with the name Roto-Rooter. It worked quite well and so he decided to franchise his invention and was one of the first to franchise his business in the country. Over the years, the name Roto-Rooter has become symbolic with drain cleaning and, by adding on plumbing etc., has become the largest plumbing and sewer cleaning company in the United States with ventures into the international market.
Throughout the years, modern technology has changed the way business is done and so much more for the better. The power retriever of the cable on these famous Roto-Rooter machines has saved a lot of arm work for the employee, the water-pressured jets saved hours of intensive labor in cleaning debris from large commercial pipes and, of course, being able to put a camera-head down a pipe to actually see the problem saves a lot in diagnosis and confusion.
The Jamestown, NY area franchise officially began in 1979 by Fred Mills who had worked for eight years with the Binghamton, NY area franchise. Wanting his own business opportunity, Fred and his wife, Bonnie, packed up their family of four children and made the move to Jamestown that same year.
By 1984, Fred, with his wife working the phone, had built the business enough that his partner and brother Richard Mills joined in full time. The following year, property at 130-134 Baker Street was purchased, giving the business better exposure and a garage to maintain equipment. Soon after, the first employee was added. And then, in August 1987, Fred bought his brother’s half of the business and returned to a sole proprietor. A second service tech employee was added. In 1991, their son, Mark, was hired as a service tech. He began to learn the business from the ground up.
Fred became a Master Plumber in the City of Jamestown in February of 1998 and soon afterward, Mark eventually received his Journeyman Plumber license (along with two other employees).
Because business continued to grow, there was need for more garage space to house three larger trucks, two water-pressured jet trucks and a septic pumper. In June of 2002, the company moved to 2596 South Work Street in Falconer, NY just outside Jamestown.
On January 1, 2004 Roto-Rooter Sewer Service then became Mills Enterprises LLC dba Roto-Rooter Plumbing.
Having built the business enough to include four servicemen and one secretary alongside Fred and Bonnie in the office, it became time to think of the future of the business. By 2008, Mark had also acquired his Master Plumber’s license. That same year, plans were finalized for Mark’s eventual takeover of the business beginning a four-year partnership with his Dad. Despite these changes, Fred and Bonnie have no plans to retire and will continue to be active in the working of the business.
Endeavoring to be a good employer and a good citizen in the community, Fred now serves on the Jamestown City Plumbing Board once monthly. He is a member in good standing of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Jamestown. Over the years Jamestown Roto-Rooter has sponsored a bowling team, a church basketball team, softball team, golf tournament, and the Jamestown Jammers. In addition, services are donated to non-profit organizations such as: the SPCA, Salvation Army, St. Susan’s Soup Kitchen, and his church.
Roto-Rooter is a member of:
1. Roto-Rooter Corporation
2. Roto-Rooter Franchisee Association Inc.
3. Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce
4. The Better Business Bureau
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