Product Illustration

Management • Operations • Business Tips • Industry Insights • 38 minutes

If It’s a Female Septic Inspector, It’s Van Delden

February 8, 2022

Episode Overview

Courtney Van Delden was answering office phones when she was 7 years old.

Van Delden Wastewater Systems is a fourth-generation family business in Boerne, Texas. Courtney’s father and grandfather were running the company when she was born. At the time, it so happened that they needed a new secretary.

No, they didn’t hire Courtney out of elementary school.

“My grandfather said to my mother, ‘Hey, Pam, we’ve got an office in the back,’” she recalls. “‘You can start working for us—and you can bring Courtney with you.’”

That’s how she was initiated into the trades. Her mom brought her to work when Courtney was an infant and kept bringing her through elementary school. Summertime. Winter breaks.

“I don’t remember how it started, but at some point, I had a legal pad and I had learned how to answer the phone and take messages,” she says.

Today, Courtney and her brother, Chad, run the enterprise. The siblings consider each other equals—even though Chad holds the title of president and Courtney is vice president.

As with any family business, there was a succession plan to have the kids take over. However, Courtney’s fair-minded parents couldn’t decide how to pick one child over the other to be president.

“We flipped a coin,” Courtney says. “I guess I got tails, so I am vice president. It’s really just a title, though. We both own the same percentage. We both value each other’s opinions.”  

The new brother-and-sister management team realized that it was time to up the ante on the technology side of the company. They added ServiceTitan but didn’t go paperless for quite some time.

“At first, my mom wanted paper backup on everything,” Courtney says. “We did a long transition when we integrated with ServiceTitan but also kept an extra calendar on hand. “We finally realized this was doing double the work.” 

So, they phased out the extra calendar.

“What you want software to do for you is really important,” Courtney says. “Dispatching. Communication. You have to have priorities. You can do the baby steps—like an extra calendar—so it’s not overwhelming at first. But then you get comfortable with it, and you use the software as part of your vision.” 

Today, Courtney is a thought leader on running a septic company. She takes questions from the public and publishes the answers on blogs that are syndicated on Facebook and LinkedIn.

It’s a whole new world from the one where a 7-year-old takes incoming phone messages on a legal pad.

Courtney Van Delden recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 3 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included Van Delden’s thoughts on:

  • Keeping business and personal lives separate when you’re working with family.

  • Training people to work in a trade where experienced job applicants are scarce.

  • Working with a program like ApplicantPro to find new hires.

  • Recognizing it takes a special mindset to work for a septic company.

  • Not always being a people pleaser—and learning to say no when a customer is not a good fit.

  • Planning for slow growth over 10 years and not trying to do too much in a short period of time.

Related Videos

More episodes

Product Illustration

Management • Operations • Business Tips • Industry Insights • 31 minutes

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone: A Second Gen Owner’s Succession

Pete Bradham, general manager of Bradham Brothers, is a second-generation boss who confron...

Product Illustration

Industry Insights • Business Tips • Technician Tips • 31 minutes

The Day I Almost Quit the Trades with NexGen’s Ismael Valdez

Ismael Valdez, CEO at NexGen Air Conditioning Heating and Plumbing, talks candidly about t...

Product Illustration

Productivity • Management • Operations • Business Tips • 40 minutes

Budgets, Numbers, and P&Ls: A Business Coach’s Perspective on the Trades

Jason Arthur, owner of Eighty-Seven Degrees Coaching, talks about budgeting, cash flow ver...

About the Show

Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

Get on the show!
Product Illustration
Explore Toolbox