Case Studies

CDC Unlimited

How one company keeps the water flowing, domestic and beyond

Sometimes an individual picks their career, and other times the career picks them. For Pat Naff, president of CDC Unlimited (CDC), his career journey falls further into the latter option. A good thing, too, because one random chance of luck led Naff to eventually found CDC, a hugely successful Houston-based wastewater concrete restoration company with an international client list.

“There was a mandatory pre-bid for a project and the client invited three different contractors, me included,” says Naff. “One didn’t show up and the other didn’t want to go for the price, so I was the only bidder. It was a strange turn of luck.”

From there, Naff’s career essentially exploded, providing him with various opportunities in the wastewater concrete restoration industry. Although he never saw himself delving deep into the concrete restoration business, he finds the work fulfilling and engaging. “It’s always a challenge,” he says with a laugh. “I’m glad that it happened and that I’m here, even if it was surprising.”

Founded in 1991, CDC provides clients, specifically wastewater treatment centers, with the necessary services to continue processing wastewater. Naff says the company focuses primarily on rehabilitations and concrete restorations; however, CDC has also assisted with the rehab of manholes, lift stations and protective coatings.

“We work a lot with corrosion, and pretty much only with water and wastewater,” adds Naff. “Right now we’ve got some wastewater treatment projects in San Antonio, Texas, and four more jobs coming soon that are supposed to be done in the next year or so. It’s a very busy time.”

Moreover, Naff prides himself on being the only wastewater contractor in the Houston area that uses Linabond Co-Lining products. “With the Linabond Co-Lining product I’m using, there’s no competition,” says Naff. “I’m the only contractor using them, here. That has some shortcomings, too, but there’s no other product like this out there.”

The economic safety of wastewater

Wastewater treatment is an industry that functions without too much public attention, and many individuals find it surprising that companies involved in the wastewater industry, concrete or otherwise, have seen little to no economic distress.

“We couldn’t even tell that there was an economic downturn,” says Naff. “We’ve stayed busy. With water and wastewater, when people stop drinking water and using the bathroom, that’s when we’ll have a problem; until then, we’re fine.”

Naff nonchalantly credits the wastewater industry’s stability as the reason for CDC’s success, but a booming industry alone does not make a company capable of thriving through economic downturns. Capable individuals within a properly managed corporate infrastructure are the foundations for growth and expansion – both of which are properly represented at CDC.

“It’s important to note, too, that the country’s getting older,” says Naff. “It’s over 200 years old. The water infrastructure was built a long time ago, and it’s deteriorating, so business has been good. It’s sort of a necessary evil.”

Currently CDC focuses on the southwestern region of the country, but the company has been known to work in other countries, including Abu Dabi and a recent stint in Russia. “We were working on a large diameter pipe, there,” says Naff. “I’d rather stay at home to do work, but if it’s a good job, we have gone out of town and state and country.”

Downstream, around the corner

For a company with only 25 employees, CDC continues to appreciate a wealth of financial success, which has led Naff to thinking about what the company should do over the coming years.

“I would not say that our future does not include expansion,” he says. “It could, definitely. It depends on what the landscape dictates, because with the economy there are still a lot of people struggling, and while we don’t have that problem in Houston, we still have to consider it.”

Naff says the company’s current workload consists of a large number of lift stations, of which many will be rehabs. “That could be a huge upside for us,” he details. “We have no debt, which decreases the company’s need to take jobs solely for financial reasons.”

A solid foundation to stand on, Naff is continually pushing CDC forward. “My goal is to have money in the bank, owe no money and have a backlog of work, it’s that simple,” he says. “There’s no need to complicate things, just focus on revenue. We even still use KISS – keep it simple and stupid.”

Simplifying the company’s focus has certainly helped Naff direct CDC down a predictable path of good fortune, and having the support of a consistently busy industry furthers that good fortune. For 23 years CDC Unlimited has been rehabilitating wastewater concrete structures, and Pat Naff, along with his partner, Trey Sawyer, are determined maintain flow well into the future.

Published on: July 22, 2014

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