P Bowyer Associates Limited, Dyno-Rod’s East of England franchise, has been looking after drains for 50 years 

Celebrating 50 years in business this year, P Bowyer Associates Limited (P Bowyer) was established by Peter and Hazel Bowyer in 1973 to take on the Dyno-Rod franchise license for the East of England region, covering Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. Today, the company is in its second generation, with Daniel and Richard Bowyer, Peter and Hazel’s sons, now running operations as Directors.

“Historically, we were known as a company that unblocks drains, but people don’t always realize all the other things we’re capable of,” Daniel begins. “We work on offshore gas platforms, railways, and ships, for instance, not to mention that we’re a Royal Warrant holder. To put it simply, we send expert drainage engineers at the right time, with the right equipment, at an affordable price.

“Our operations as the Dyno-Rod East of England licensee are split into two forms of work; reactive and planned. Reactive refers to the classic ‘I’ve got a problem; can you come and fix it?’ type work that is typically associated with drainage companies. We strive for a ‘first time fix,’ so efficiency is crucial. We’ve spent a lot of time and investment on equipment to enable all our engineers to carry the necessary equipment in their vehicles to get the job done on our first visit.

“On the other hand, planned works refers to larger projects like surveys, drainage investigations, working with the Environment Agency to reduce pollution, or flooding research,” he explains. “These projects are generally days or weeks at a time, compared to reactive work that takes merely a few hours.”

In 2004, operations diversified as a result of Dyno-Rod being acquired by British Gas. “We were acquired by British Gas mainly to fulfil the requirements of their home care and insurance products, specifically relating to the drains and plumbing aspects of the policy,” Daniel recalls. “We established the plumbing side of the business, Dyno Plumbing, in 2013 and most of this work comprises projects carried out on behalf of British Gas.

“While my parents started the business and grew it from two to 80 employees across the divisions, we’re now into the second generation with my brother, Richard, and I taking over operations in 2005. We grew up in the drainage world – when my brother was born, he was even brought home from hospital in our father’s work van!

“I had worked in the property market in Asia for 15 years, but after having a family, I was looking for a change of lifestyle. Richard was already in the business, so I moved back to Norwich, we put together a growth plan, and the rest is history. I now have two sons, one of whom worked for us over the summer, so we could be heading into our third generation in the future.”

However, Peter hasn’t completely let go of the company just yet. “My father decided to take a step back when we took over, but ironically, he’s still involved in the business,” Daniel shares. “He brings great value to us, and his decades of knowledge and experience are often priceless. He is often found laughing with the team about the things we find in drains; we even rescued a puppy who had been accidentally flushed down the toilet by a small boy who was trying to clean him in the toilet. The puppy was so young that he hadn’t been named yet and the family ended up calling him Dyno to remember the experience!”

Trenchless technology
Over the last 15-to-20 years, the entire drainage industry has shifted towards trenchless technology, and P Bowyer is no exception. “We consider ourselves as leaders in new techniques that minimise environmental impacts, and this technology has been at the core of our growth for the last 25 years,” states Daniel. “For several reasons, we want to avoid putting a spade in the ground – it’s disruptive, noisy, more expensive, results in waste material going to landfill, and can be potentially damaging to the environment.

“So, instead of digging down to fix problems, we encourage the use of trenchless technology wherever possible. As its name suggests, it means solving the issue underground without the need for a trench, which provides us with a viable alternative when working on sites that simply cannot be disturbed, like museums and historic buildings, or where safe access is impractical.

“To keep us at the forefront of the industry, we focus on technical competence to ensure exceptional outcomes. Our engineers attend specialist courses, becoming highly qualified to carry out operations using trenchless technology methods, and our techniques use best-in-class materials like epoxy resins. We have worked closely with organizations over the years to wean them off first-generation liners that contain styrene, and onto environmentally friendly resins.

“However, it’s still important for us to encourage greater proactive drain maintenance, as trenchless technology is only good for so long, or for certain problems,” he explains. “Most problems in public spaces and highways are caused by drainage systems that haven’t been regularly maintained, and inevitably a point is reached where the problem cannot be fixed without excavation. Unfortunately, we’re seeing less proactive drain maintenance in the public sectors, as organisations are becoming increasingly driven by budget constraints.”

To encourage drain maintenance, the Dyno-Rod entity strives to educate its customers about drainage best practices. “Over the years, we’ve spent more time educating people and I think the public has become more aware of the things that cause blockages,” Daniel elaborates. “We have a campaign – “Unblocktober” – running through October to promote good drain behaviour and maintenance before winter kicks in. Providing customers with self-help methods is also key, whether it’s information on our website, videos, or campaigns like those I’ve mentioned.”

Customer satisfaction
Furthermore, Daniel adds: “Local knowledge is crucial, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors. There are many factories and buildings throughout East Anglia with 100-year-old infrastructure. When we’re approached by such organisations with an issue they want us to investigate, we can often identify the cause using our historic knowledge and archive files. In some cases, we know exactly what the problem is because we identified the same thing in the 1980s, or we can assist with drainage system queries from archive drawings that may not be available or recorded elsewhere.

“It also means we can assist our region’s water company, Anglian Water, with whom we have a great working relationship. Specifically, we supported them in 2011 when private sewers and lateral drains were transferred into public ownership. There was inevitably a big gap in their knowledge of residential drainage systems, but with a natural overlap between both our operations, we were able to use our experience and drawings to help educate them. Today, we continue to be incredibly supportive of one another’s work and we proactively share knowledge to continuously improve processes and customer satisfaction.”

One example of the significance of P Bowyers’ local knowledge is the long-standing work carried out for the royal household at Sandringham Estate. “We’ve been working at Sandringham since 1976 and in 2007, we were honoured to be awarded a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of our services,” Daniel reveals. “It’s such a privilege to hold such a quality mark. Hopefully, it reassures our customers that they’re getting a quality service when they choose to use us.”

With a proven track record of superb project delivery, unparalleled knowledge of innovative technologies, and positive relationships with both customers and other companies, P Bowyer is sure to continue experiencing success moving forward.

“For us, the future is all about understanding our customers’ needs and managing expectations,” Daniel concludes. “Customers are becoming more demanding, so we need to fine tune our service while delivering outcomes even faster. We’re a friendly, long-standing brand, and we want to bring people closer in a world with much less brand recognition. Further afield, nobody can predict where we’ll be in ten years, but I’m confident that our legacy will continue.”