n 1933, Samuel Blanc created a funny-looking sewer cleaning machine from a 1/6 HP Maytag washing machine motor, roller skate wheels and 3/8'' cable to turn the blades. The device used a combination of special blades or ''knives'' to cut tree roots out of sewer lines. No digging was required. A year later, Sam's wife Lettie christened the prototype the ''Roto-Rooter.''
Founded in 1935, Roto-Rooter is the largest provider of plumbing and drain cleaning services in North America. In 1980, the Blanc family sold Roto-Rooter to Cincinnati-based Chemed Corporation, and Roto-Rooter moved its headquarters to Cincinnati. In 1986, Roto-Rooter was spun off as a public company, with Chemed retaining majority ownership. In August 1996, Roto-Rooter again became a wholly owned subsidiary when Chemed bought back all outstanding shares.
Roto-Rooter operates businesses in more than 100 company-owned branch and contractor territories and approximately 500 franchise operations, serving approximately 90% of the U.S. population and parts of Canada. Master franchise operations have been established in Japan, Philippines, Mexico, United Kingdom, Hong Kong/China and Indonesia/Singapore.
Fred Wiggleworth (F. Wiggleworth Plumbing & Gas Fitting) brought the Roto-Rooter Sewer and Drain franchise to Madison. Late 1948 Laurence “Mud” & Helen Lee purchased the franchise from Fred. Along with the client list came an official Roto-Rooter Model 55 sewer cleaning machine and a 1937 Ford Panel truck with a driver’s door that wouldn’t open. From those humble beginnings; it began to grow.