By: Tami Scott
As the sole shareholder of Camden Group, Ken Scherrieble’s company has earned itself a prestigious place in the world of environmental services and infrastructure restoration. Established in 2011, clients have come to know it as the solution to their most halting problems.
Camden Group specializes in water and wastewater operations; grouting and waterproofing; and infrastructure restoration, including manhole rehabilitation and concrete rehabilitation and coatings. Its northeast and mid-Atlantic client base is comprised of municipalities, utility companies, and public sectors in the northeast and mid-Atlantic.
“Over the years we have become known as the firm you call when others have tried and failed,” Scherrieble said. “We have an exceptional corp of experienced craftsmen with well over 200 years of experience in water infiltration. We have been on many projects where the client or engineer has said there is no way we could do the job, only to hear them exclaim they would have never believed it if they did not see it with their own eyes.”
These jobs have included manhole restoration projects in the Metro NY/NJ area and in the suburbs of Philadelphia where water is pouring in and engineers are convinced nothing can be done to fix them. When Camden Group comes in, they turn it around and make it work. When the aquarium at the Dream Mall of America in East Rutherford, NJ was leaking and nobody could stop it, they called on Camden Group. The team got it to stop.
“Those are the fun things that we get into when other people just can’t solve the problem,” he said. “Pretty much anything that’s got to do with water moving, we can figure it out — [we can] stop it or move it in another direction.”
Just last year, Camden Group earned national recognition for its role in a progressive pipeline project with the Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) in the Metro NY/NJ area.
It involved establishing a cured-in-place lining (CIPL) of a 573 lf, 42-inch, high pressure cast-iron gas main leaking under the Garden State Parkway at Central Avenue Bridge in East Orange, New Jersey. Several challenging obstacles had to be overcome to complete the project, one of which was water infiltrating the deeply buried gas lines. Scherrieble said they had to find a way to stop the water before a liner could be put in place.
“We created a means by which to drill through and then grout the pipe so that the grout surrounded the pipe from the outside to stop the infiltration of water,” he said, and due to the complex pipe configuration, Scherrieble’s crew had to travel inside the pipe on a skateboard-type conveyance, on their backs, down 300 feet at a 45-degree angle, then straight, and then another 300 feet down, before they could begin their “patchwork.”
According to project officials, CIPL was the only option, yet lining a very large 42-inch cast-iron pipe had never before been done. Camden Group played a critical role in the project’s successful outcome.
This PSE&G project was named the 2020 Trenchless Technology Project of the Year runner up and was showcased at the National No Dig Show. It was also set to be highlighted in Denver but the pandemic pushed it to a virtual show like many others.
“We were proud to be a part of it,” Scherrieble said.
Unique to other companies, Camden Group began as a water and wastewater operations firm and over the years was involved as a client for the infrastructure restoration services that it now provides.
“That experience allowed us to see the good and the bad and since our focus as operators is assuring clean water, we used that experience and determined that we could perform the services we were contracting better (in our mind),” Scherrieble said. “We take a more holistic approach to the contracting side since we were, and in many cases still are, the client of these construction services. This gives us a different perspective and allows us to work with clients showing them how to meet their I&I, water intrusion, coatings, or soil stabilization goals.”
Large company expertise, small company values
Camden Group is based in Camden, NY, which is part of Central New York in Oneida County. Here they have a 9,000 square foot warehouse for the infrastructure restoration division and a separate 2,000 square foot office which serves as the company headquarters. In 2019, the company opened a second location in Butler, New Jersey, located in the Metro NY/NJ area. That location specializes in chemical grouting, soil stabilization, waterproofing, and concrete repair. The addition welcomed a 26-year veteran to the waterproofing division, and grew the employee base from three to 13. Due to this new and enjoyed growth, Scherrieble is on the lookout for more space in the New Jersey area, specifically, about two thousand square feet for both an office for staff and a warehouse to accommodate vehicles and product they utilize.
A family-oriented company, Camden Group has 38 full-time employees. The number climbs to about 50 during the peak summer season. Scherrieble takes pride in providing large company expertise with small company values. Each year, employees and their spouses gather for a large holiday party (minus 2020) where Scherrieble gives everybody a chance to meet and get to know each other.
“The company is stretched over such a distance that sometimes people think they’re just a core group of four to six, they don’t realize that there are 38 people that are part of the organization,” he said, adding he was disappointed he couldn’t bring his team together as often as he had planned last year due to the new COVID-19 protocols. He looks forward to bringing the family back together again.
The Camden Group company philosophy, which Scherrieble attributes to his German upbringing, stands out front and center in the work they do every day, no matter how big or small is the job.
“No. 1, if you’re not gonna do it right, don’t do it at all. No. 2, if you are going to do it, do it right and don’t do it a second time,” he said, noting his grandfather was first-generation German. “Sums it up. Our philosophy is very much that philosophy.”
Scherrieble’s father, Otto, owned his own machining company for which Scherrieble did some work. In a humorous yet accurate account of his family’s work ethic, he told of an encounter he had with an inspector from the National Regulatory Commission (NRC) while touring his father’s facility. It takes place in the QA/QC room:
“[The inspector] says to me, ‘What’s your sample size for your QA/QC program?’ And I said, ‘100 percent.’ ‘I don’t think you understand me. Out of 100 pieces, how many pieces do you measure to make sure they meet the QA/QC?’ ‘One hundred percent!’ ‘Nooo, you don’t understand me. I don’t mean what measurements you take. I mean how many of the pieces do you take? So, if you made 100 pieces, how many of those pieces do you measure?’ And I said, ‘100 percent!’ And he looked at me, and my father was standing in the doorway, and my father says, ‘Did you see the name on the sign when you came in? OttoTech. My name is Otto. Every single piece that leaves this facility is measured.’ And the NRC inspector turns around and he says to me, ‘Okay, 100 percent!’”
“That’s the way I was brought up,” Scherrieble said. “You do it right. You do it right the first time.”
Ken Scherrieble has been in the water and wastewater treatment and infrastructure business since 1991. He is a Certified 4A NYS wastewater treatment plant operator and a member of various organizations including NACE (now known as AMPP) WEF, NYWEA, NYSRWA and AWWA.
To learn more about Camden Group, visit https://camdengroupusa.com/.
Tim DeLany joins Five Star Equipment as its Used Equipment Manager