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Septic business means family at Ulbricht and Associates Pumpers

Lori and Steve Muenich pose in front of Ulbricht and Associates’ service truck with daughter Kylea, their cat Yo-Yo and their Border Collie/Springer Spaniel mix Sierra. (Submitted photo)

Steve and Lori Muenich hope you’ll think of them later this month if St. Croix County notifies you that your septic system needs inspection.

The Muenichs promise that you’ll not only get great 24-hour-a-day service, you’ll become part of their family too.

“We’re not one of the big guys. We’re just a small, family-owned company,” says Steve, owner of Ulbricht and Associates Pumpers for the last four years.

“That means we’re able to cater to the customer more. There’s a little more one-on-one connection and care with our customers.”

Family isn’t just an attitude for the Muenichs. It’s part of their business plan.

Everyone -- Steve, Lori, 18-year-old son David and 12-year-old daughter Kylea -- pitches in during most of the busy season from April until the first late-fall freezes.

Even Sierra, their people-friendly Border Collie/Springer Spaniel mix, goes along on calls.

“Sierra loves riding in that truck,” Steve notes. “She won’t even talk to me for a day if I leave her home. … Our customers really like her too.”

Steve, a certified master operator who bought the company from Hudson’s Bob Ulbricht in 2010, handles Ulbricht and Associates’ core services: septic and well inspections, pumping, repairs, soil perc tests and new installations.

Lori, meanwhile, answers the phones, and takes care of the paperwork, advertising, marketing and computer work. She also helps Steve on pumping calls when she can.

“We pretty much work together,” she says. “It’s pretty much a 50-50 deal.”

Her son David, who will be graduating from high school in Illinois this year, works full-time during the summer.

Bob Ulbricht, who started the company in 1978, is still available as a mentor and advisor, and for Ulbricht and Associates’ specialized plumbing work.

After working all over the country for 25 years as a natural-gas pipeline laborer and foreman, Steve noticed Ulbricht’s ad in a local shopper one day and decided to buy the company after meeting him. Steve then worked under Bob’s supervision while gathering enough hours for his pumping certification.

“I’ve always had a dream of being in the septic and plumbing industry,” he says, adding of his natural-gas years: “After 25 years, I got tired of all the traveling. I wanted to be more localized.”

Steve also will be getting his plumber’s certification soon.

5,000 St. Croix inspections each year

There are about 15,000 septic systems in St. Croix County, and the law requires each of them to be inspected every three years – county notifications are set to be mailed in late-May. That’s about 5,000 inspections every year, not to mention repairs, pumping, perc tests and all the rest.

Ulbricht and Associates’ service territory also includes Pierce, Chippewa, Eau Claire and Dunn counties.

It’s a seasonal business, and the Muenichs can’t work on rainy days except in an emergency, so their spring, summer and early-fall schedule can get pretty frantic. But the family won’t take shortcuts.

“If we get into the system and find that it needs repair right away, we’ll stop and take care of it,” Lori notes. “We don’t just leave a note and go on to the next call.”

They also realize that keeping septic systems in good shape doesn’t exactly top the priority list for most busy residents, so they go the extra mile to explain the hows and whys of what they do.

They keep in touch too, reminding their customers when they’re due for inspection, for example, usually well before county notices are sent out.

The Muenichs also make a special effort to make sure their repeat customers are taken care of ahead of the summer rush.

“Usually, our repeat customers are done in the early spring,” Lori explains. “We give them a call if they’re due and say, ‘Let’s get you taken care of before we get to all of our new customers later in the season.’”

“We’re from here,” Lori adds. “We like the area. It’s a really beautiful area. People here are really, really nice – everybody we’ve ever worked with.”

Steve and Lori can be reached at (715) 386-8277. Ulbricht and Associates Pumpers also has a website,, a redesigned version of which will be up by mid-July.

Chuck Nowlen

Chuck Nowlen joined the Star-Observer team as a business, township and general-assignment reporter in April, 2014 after a three-decade career in newspapers and magazines, and as a newsroom-management/business-planning consultant.

(715) 808-8286