Meeting Every Challenge


Wentworth Services Group succeeds by researching
clients’ problems, then developing cost-effective solutions

By Rosalie E. Leposky

JClients bring difficult waterblasting problems to Terry L. Wentworth, founder of Wentworth Services Group Inc. (WSG) in Moncks Corner, S.C. He provides solutions that sometimes are deceptively simple.

“A local contractor was unsuccessful in removing rust from the new galvanized steel installations at Calpine Power Station in Columbia, S.C.,” Wentworth said. “We were called in to remove the rust. Before we started, I researched for my client how to keep the rust from returning.”

Wentworth found HoldTight, a product from Carolina Equipment in Charleston to stop the rusting. “We removed the rust with our two 40,000 psi waterblasters, and used a bug sprayer to apply HoldTight to control the rust and keep the metal shining,” he said. “I know my job. I know my customer. I go the last mile for my customers.”


Customers know how far Wentworth will go to find answers for them. “When I say something can’t be done, my customers have come to trust my judgment,” he says.

Diligent research

Wentworth applies the same penchant for organized investigation to his own business. Before establishing WSG, he spent months studying the market for waterblasting in South Carolina. His research included talking with clients, suppliers, co-workers, and professional friends. “I asked if they would support a new company,” he says.

For 11 years, Wentworth served as a mechanic in the U.S. Army, beginning and ending his service at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek, S.C. He left the Army in 1994, decided to stay in South Carolina, and joined a local firm as a mechanic’s helper. That was the first step in his chain of opportunities.

Late one afternoon a friend and co-worker, Doug Chappel, asked Wentworth to come on a waterblasting assignment. “I worked all night with Doug, liked the work, and have been doing it ever since,” Wentworth says.

He moved quickly from being a mechanic’s helper to a managerial position. For several years, he worked at building a base of business for his employers. “I always wanted my own company,” he says. “For a while I worked two jobs — a regular day job, and nights and weekends laying the groundwork

for my new company. My employer and co-workers knew my plans.” In late 2003, Wentworth filed the paperwork to create WSG.

Start-up financing

Setting up a new company requires careful planning and financial support. Wentworth launched WSG with a home-equity loan. Then Doug Chappel mentioned to him that East Coast Industrial Services in Alcolu, S.C., was leaving the waterblasting and vacuum services
business, and that all of its waterblasting equipment was available. The firm sold Wentworth the equipment and agreed to hold his note.

WSG began operating with a Guzzler vacuum truck and an 18-inch blower, since sold. Other equipment Wentworth purchased that day included a wet/dry 3,000-gallon vacuum truck, two 300-hp waterblasters with 10,000 psi to 20,000 psi conversion, three Chevrolet support trucks, four trailers, and a hot-water pressure-washer.

Five co-workers and professional friends with more than 40 years of combined industry experience came to work for Wentworth. Four still work for him: William Rudd, operations vice president; David Rivera, sales; Chris Mitchum, technician, and Shannon Richardson, foreman.

Friendly cooperation

Wentworth continues to work with Timmy White, one of the men who helped him learn waterblasting techniques. “Timmy now works for Eadies Construction Co. Inc. in Ridgeville, S.C., which specializes in sewer cleaning,” says Wentworth. We talk at least weekly. We are competitors in some respects, but we offer slightly different services, so we regularly team up on projects and trade equipment and employees back and forth.”

In spring of 2005, Eadies and WSG used their combined four vacuum trucks to collect and transport mud from a drilling project underneath Charleston Harbor. For about three weeks, they moved about four loads of mud per truck per day to approved landfills, helping to complete the project on time and within budget.

Ninety percent of WSG’s Charleston work begins with an emergency call. “Customers call us when something breaks,” says Wentworth. “In an outage situation, I tell clients what needs to be fixed before they start up again, because if the problem is not addressed, it will cause more problems.”

The firm’s trucks are preloaded with everything that may be needed in anysituation, reducing extra trips from a jobsite to obtain a tool or part. “At the end of each work day, the driver cleans and restocks his truck,” Wentworth says. “Drivers always carry more equipment than they need.

“When a customer reports something else is broken, our employees don’t have to go back to the shop to get a tool or supply. This helps to reduce the client’s downtime. For instance, when we’re called to clean a tank, we may also find a plugged chemical line. Proper cleaning equipment is loaded on all of our trucks.”

Variety of services

WSG services include industrial vacuuming, maritime cleaning, silo cleaning, soda blasting, waterblasting up to 40,000 psi, and glass-bead blasting. “One of my customers, Santee Cooper (a state-owned electric utility), asked me to remove the hard fly ash collected in their silo in Pinopolis,” says Wentworth. “Before we started the job, I spent two days of my own time to search the Web for the best tool to clean the silo.”

He selected the GyroWhip, an air-driven tool manufactured by Northern Vibrator Manufacturing Ltd., in Georgetown, Ont. Most of WSG’s maritime assignments involve cleaning fiberglass boats with dry soda (sodium bicarbonate) blasting. The firm also uses soda with 15,000 psi water to clean and polish stainless-steel tanks, and to remove graffiti from walls. Soda dissolves when rinsed and is environmentally benign. To clean the boiler tubes of ocean-going ships, WSG uses flexible lances.

In January 2005, WSG replaced its second-hand waterblasters with two new 275-hp, 38-gpm NLB waterblasters from NLB Corp. The systems convert in half an hour from 10,000 psi to 20,000 psi. “NLB’s equipment is more cost-effective to operate, and their plungers are made from 100 percent tungsten carbide steel,” Wentworth says.

Training employees

About once a month, WSG uses high-pressure water to clean the tubes at the Montenay Charleston Resource Recovery North Safety plant in Charleston, which burns trash to generate electricity. “This is very hot, demanding work done while the boilers are on,” Wentworth says. “The cleaning time depends on what’s been burned and how dirty the pipes are.

“We open a door to reach and clean between the tubes. The water we use and the residue we clean off go to the bottom of the boiler and are removed with the ash that collects there. We start cleaning with 10,000 psi and switch to 20,000 psi as needed. Each employee has a different tolerance for the heat, and employee safety is our first concern.”

WSG has a full-time safety director, Ron Hill. Under his direction, every new employee receives 40 hours of classroom and on-the-job training before being allowed to work at a jobsite — and then only under close supervision.

Another water-pressure challenge for Wentworth is the kiln at the Giant Cement Co. plant in Holly Hill, S.C. Giant Cement formerly spent 12 to 14 man-hours to clean its feed dump chute by hand. “We use waterblasters to clean their dump chutes in about two hours,” Wentworth says.

“We changed pressure-cleaning tips until we found the best tip to cut through the raw cement. We use a number four jet tip or cutting tip, which cuts through the raw material without hurting the steel shell of the kiln’s feed-dump chute.”

Future work for WSG and business partners includes a variety of complex jobs in South Carolina. “Every day brings new challenges for using our water-blasting equipment,” says Wentworth. “We thrive on challenges.”


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April 2006  

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