Business isn't always about boardrooms, briefings and black coffee. So, in tribute to the North-East men and women who take a more unusual approach to enterprise, this week, Lauren Pyrah takes a look at the unconventional, alternative or down right difficult careers in the region's economy.

Jim Rust , 51, is the general manager of Dyno-Rod Teesside .

How did you get into the drain clearing business?

It's a really interesting industry to work in. I came from an engineering manufacturing consultancy background and through a series of events, I ended up working in the drainage industry in 2004. I joined Dyno-Rod in 2010.

It's not something I ever really thought I'd end up doing - it's something I fell into - but I really enjoy it. I think what appealed to me about the drainage industry is the variety and the range of customers you deal with. It's not a 9 to 5 job - you can be called on at any time, which makes it quite exciting, and you never know what you're going to be dealing with. You get a real satisfaction out of giving customers the quality service they deserve.

Tell us about a typical day.

A lot of my days are largely spent on the customer service elements. It is very important to Dyno-Rod that we give the best customer service possible.

Health and safety also takes up a lot of time - it is our number one priority. A lot of our time and efforts are spent making sure the support systems are there to ensure our engineers return home in safely in the same condition they left in, and that our customers are completely safe. It can be quite a dangerous industry to be around - there is some specialist equipment used and the guys sometimes have to go into the sewers.

They guys have the full suits, gloves, masks, wellies, boots, wetsuits - basically whatever they need to get the job done and be protected from being splashed by human waste. They have in-built wash stations in their vehicles. They also have a lot of equipment at their disposal - everything from a simple plunger to a high-pressure water jet.

We invest a lot in equipment and staff training and we would never put anyone in any danger.

What's the best bit about the job?

I would say it is helping people. I see us as an emergency service. There is an element of satisfaction which comes from helping someone out of a difficult situation.

You're often dealing with people in very emotive situations. It is usually a distressing and traumatic event for a householder, particularly elderly or vulnerable people or families with small children.

People are looking for a professional company to come in and give outstanding customer service, take the problem away and get them back to normal as quickly as possible. We never leave them with a problem, always with a solution. When you leave someone in a better situation than they were when you arrived, that is a great feeling.

It can be quite dramatic for a domestic customer and potentially expensive for a business customer. I have brilliant team who deal with the job calmly and don't turn it into a crisis.

We quite often say here, it is a dirty job, but someone's got to do it. We like to get the job done and get things back to how they should be. We genuinely want to help people - that is what we do.

I also like the variety of the job - every day is different. You never know what is going to happen.

And while we always remain professional, it can be fun - you need to keep your sense of humour.

Anything you don't like?

I am sure from time to time there are challenges - we all have those - but I have been in this industry for eight years and I can honestly say I've enjoyed every single day. As for the smell, it's not very nice, but you just get used to it.

What's the most horrible mess you've ever had to clean up?

The most grotesque one I have ever personally been involved with was a high street retail store that had a basement which hadn't been used for years, and one day someone realised there was a bit of a smell.

They called us out and lo and behold, there was a manhole there which had been backing up for two or three years.

It was repulsive. It took eight of us, with a 26-tonne vacuum truck, two days to clear it up. I've never smelled anything so bad, but we got the job done.

What's the strangest thing you've ever found down the drain?

We've found all sorts of things down drains - jewellery, including diamond rings, watches, money, car keys - you would be surprised at what we've found down drains.

In pub toilets, it is surprising how often blockages are caused by underwear - the mind boggles.

One time I went out to unblock a toilet. We knew there was a blockage but we couldn't work out exactly what it was so we put the camera down and saw this Spiderman action figure waving at us, which one of the children had dropped down the loo.

Undoubtedly the strangest one though, was when one of our colleagues rescued a puppy.

A young kid had thought it was a great idea to give this tiny puppy, which was just a few weeks old, a bath in the toilet and the flush had accidentally been activated.

The RSPCA tried to get him out and couldn't, so they had called the fire brigade, who also tried to rescue him to no avail, so they called us. We went in and successfully managed to get him out and he was fine. They named him Dyno in honour of the rescue, which was great.