Family With Three-Decade History in Hydroexcavation Rediscovers the Truck That Started It All

Brothers and owners of New York firm find father’s old Vactor truck in a scrap yard

Family With Three-Decade History in Hydroexcavation Rediscovers the Truck That Started It All

Chris Angelo (right), co-owner of J. Angelo Industries, and his father Joseph stand in front of the old Vactor truck that marked the beginning of the family's start in the hydroexcavation industry.

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Hydroexcavation company J. Angelo Industries is officially only 3 years old, but it can be argued that the company history goes back much further. Back to the 1980s and an old Vactor 810 hydrovac truck.

In 1989, Chris Angelo, co-owner of J. Angelo Industries in Wappingers Falls, New York, was 8 years old when he made the trip from New York to Madison, Wisconsin, with his father, Joseph, to pick up that Vactor and drive it back home. 

“It took two days. I lived off Kentucky Fried Chicken and soda pop. Life on the road,” Chris recalls.

It marked the Angelo family’s introduction to hydrovac equipment. Joseph operated his business, Teleco Pipe Cleaning, with brother Albert for nearly two decades. Then, in 2015, that legacy continued when Chris and his brother John started J. Angelo Industries.

Recently, everything came full circle when the Angelos stumbled upon the original Vactor truck that started it all — just before the truck was about to become scrap.

“My brother and I just happened to be taking my son to a BMX race when we noticed the truck,” Chris says. “It was dark so we didn’t think much of it other than that it was an old Vactor. The next week we drove by in the day when the sun was just going down and I saw something that caught my eye — it was a dent in the tailgate. I had a flashback and realized in that very second that it was my dad’s first hydrovac.”

The truck had most recently been used by a concrete manufacturing plant in Kingston, New York, for vacuuming out batch-makers and drains. When the plant closed, the truck found its way to a local scrap yard, which is where the Angelo brothers came across it.

“We stopped to look at it and it was like walking around it again for the first time — simple machine as opposed to the machines we own and operate now, but back then it was the cat’s  meow,” Chris says. “I called my dad immediately and told him I think we found ‘Big Daddy.’ John named the truck that when we first pulled up in it from Madison, Wisconsin. He said, ‘That’s Big Daddy,” and the name stuck. I learned a lot from being around that truck as a young boy.”

Enough that Chris and his brother didn’t have the steep learning curve that some may have when they decide to start a business in this industry.

“There was never any doubt that we would be successful,” Chris says, noting that it was just a matter of he and his brother taking experience working with their father and applying it to a new venture with relentless entrepreneurial spirit.

“You get up early in the morning and work till late at night, do the paperwork, and then catch up with life. It makes for long but rewarding days,” Chris says.

He calls himself the “big dreamer” of the company, yet each Angelo brother makes important contributions.

“My brother is a good mechanic. I don’t know what I would do without the guy, to be honest,” Chris says.

Chris says he and his brother are a check and a balance for each other: “When I get hot, he cools me down. If there’s something I can’t handle, he can, and vice versa. We definitely complement each other. Moving forward, we are just going to get better.

“My brother and I have a good relationship. It has worked for us. We can work hard like we do and still go to the beach at the end of the week and have fun together. Not a lot of families can do that.”

Read more about J. Angelo Industries in the August 2018 issue of Dig Different magazine.


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