DELPHOS — One unpleasant bumpy car ride 14 years ago sparked a lucrative business idea for Mike Crites, owner and president of Mr. Manhole in Delphos.
Crites said manholes on state route 81 in Allentown had always been a prevalent problem, and in 2002 he was determined to solve the problem.
After going online to inquire information about fixing manholes, he sketched a picture of what would become the Mr. Manhole cutter and proposed the idea to a welder.
“He looked at me like I was crazy and I wasn’t sure if it would work either,” he said. “But we made it and we tried it and it worked so good and I thought ‘wow we are on to something big’.”
In 2005, Crites created the Mr. Manhole system, a set of tools that remove and repair manholes within a total of 30 minutes or less. This is significantly faster than the old method, which took installers a whole day to complete.
The tools have been sold to companies worldwide in countries like Australia, China and the United States. Installers who purchase the products and are using it for the first time can access 13 chapters of complete training on the Mr. Manhole website under the Video Resources tab.
“It’s a new concept and everything that we do has never been done before,” he said. “I’m assuming at some point it will be so well known that people will know how it works and won’t need the training.”
Installers learn about the removal process which consists of removing the manhole lid, centering the leveling system, putting the cutter into the centering device, cut and remove the frame, lid and overcut. Repairing consist of putting the white-liner pipe in, cutting it into the right height and slope, putting the frame back on top and filling in the concrete outside of it.
It is essential that the installers learn the process because there are a series of specifications that they have to abide by when working in the field. These specifications require them to use a specific method when repairing a manhole. For an example, in Lima installers are only allowed to remove and repair a manhole by using the Mr. Manhole specifications.
“I think it fundamentally changes the way they do repairs in the street,” he said. “They don’t have to be redone all the time and it’s a quality repair and it saves the city money.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews