Company Timeline & Milestones


Jon Birnie’s son, Thos. R. Birnie was born


Jon Birnie, who was a baker by trade, could not find work. He started in the sewer and cement business cleaning and installing sewers with a bicycle, bamboo rods, shovel, and wire cable.


R. Birnie’s daughter Joan Birnie was born


Jon Birnie passed away, leaving the business to family


R. Birnie’s second daughter Arlene Birnie was born


  • Thos R. left Norton Abrasives to start work at the family business and reached out to his dad’s previous customers. The business operated out of his home at 40 Grosvenor Ave S.
  • He bought the original roto-rooter machine from Mr. Bailey at the bank? because roto-rooter did not want to come to Canada. The machine cost $460.
  • The war board set his service price at $10/hour. At this time it cost 40 cents an hour to hire someone.
  • R. Birnie’s wife Gertrude became the business’ first call taker
  • Grandma Thompson thought the business wouldn’t last
  • The business created the “Don’t Dig” branding


Picture of first year’s income statement


R.’s son Thomas (Roy) Birnie was born


  • R.’s second son, Robert (Bob) Birnie was born
  • During the early 1950s, competitors would offer 1 penny an hour more to entice employees to leave


The company got out of the construction aspect of the business and focused on sewer/drain cleaning services


Grandma Gerturde’s health was poor so Aunt Mildred came into the business and became our next call taker


  • R. increased the price to $12/hr with a $2 discount if the customer paid on the same day
  • R. started keeping records of every job address the business went to and what work they did there. Kozo Kumita recommended keeping records not by phone number but by address. There were 1000s of cards with job information.


  • Roy Birnie started working in the business full time as a drain cleaner
  • Staff worked 5.5 days a week, Mon – Sat at 1pm


  • Robert Birnie started working full time in the business
  • The price for service increased to $15/hr

Mid 1970s

  • The company started using the Marko machine
  • The company did a lot of work for Proctor & Gamble, which introduced us to the Ridgid machine


Bob left business to sell men’s clothing but returned to the family business within the year


Roy’s son Jonathan Birnie was born


  • Roy and Bob put 2 business phones in their homes in their closets, one was a mountain number and one was a downtown number
  • Active Answer became the first phone answering service for the company


Roy and Bob brought the company back into the repair end of business, instead of focusing just on drain cleaning. They expanded services to rain conductors, weeping tiles, water lines, sewer repairs


Bob’s son James (Rob) Birnie was born


R. brought Roy (age 34) and Bob (age 30) into business ownership


After 40 years of running the business out of Thos R.’s family home, the company moved their offices into 1383 King Street. (known at the time as Jack’s Barber Shop), buying the building for $50,000.


  • Joan Birnie-Barham’s son Tom joined the company
  • R turned 70 and said he would not do any more digging. He became semi-retired
  • Roy and Bob bought the company’s first mini excavator for $13,000 and started focusing on waterlines services


  • The company started using Line locators to trace sewer cables. Prior to this Thos R. would locate using a pickaxe and witching techniques
  • Long time employee Gerry O’Shaughnessy started working for the company


  • Arlene Birnie-Hagel’s son Roy Hagel started working in the business
  • The business created the “Old Kids on the Blockage” branding


  • The company became the first in Hamilton to have cameras to put down the sewers. The color camera cost $18,000 (Ques Nopafax)
  • Roy and Bob travelled to the U.S. and met contractor Frank Blau
  • The company’s first plumber Mike O’Connel joined the team


  • The company bought its first Spartan Jetter for $33,000 and started offering jetting of sewers
  • The company grew and expanded its team to 12 people


  • Roy Birnie’s son Jon started working in the business
  • The team started using booties over their shoes when working in customer’s homes


The business joined Contractor’s 2000 and started to learn and develop under the teaching of Frank Blau and his amazing team(Now known as Nexstar Network). We are still members today!


  • Bob Birnie’s son Rob started working in the business
  • The company became the first in Hamiton to move off of standard hourly rate pricing to providing a flat price per job to their customers


  • The company started using Formadrain and became the first in Hamilton to do residential lining of sewers
  • The company moved its offices to its current location at 390 Lake Ave


  • R. Birnie passed away
  • The company was left out of the Yellow Pages, causing the business to create the 5stinky branding


  • Rob Birnie became first licensed plumber in the business
  • The company started focusing on plumbing services
  • Gertrude Brinie passed away


  • Jon Birnie became a licensed plumber
  • The company won the Plumbing Technical Truck of the Year award


  • The company started using the pipe freezing machine and no flame soldering tools
  • We became the first company in Hamilton to use wirsbo piping


Roy and Bob brought their sons Jon Birnie (age 34) and Rob Birnie (age 30) into business ownership. They were the same age as their fathers when they took ownership


The company started using Service Titan software system


The company bought its first bursting machine and started using bursting technology


  • Roy Birnie retired after 52 years
  • Bob Birnie became semi-retired


Rob’s son Tyler, 5th generation Birnie, started helping out the business during the summer