It’s time to prep your restroom inventory and tune up the service trucks to get ready for the busy season.
Welcome to one of our 2017 issues of Pumper, dedicated to a portable restroom service theme. April is a critical month for pumpers who offer portable sanitation, as they gear up for expanding routes to meet demand in the construction and special event sectors. It’s an exciting time, where trucks are prepped for the road, restroom equipment inventories are reviewed and new technicians practice your service protocols.
In this issue, you’ll find editorial content tailored toward wastewater businesses with a strong portable sanitation component. You’ll also find a Product Focus listing showcasing restroom service-related equipment from industry manufacturers. Whether you offer portable sanitation products or are considering diversifying into the restroom service area, be sure to look inside for these feature stories:
When septic work dried up, we added restrooms.
When the area surrounding Fayetteville, North Carolina, was pulled into a municipal sewer system, Mike and Audrey Stancil, owners of Cumberland Septic Services, knew their septic work was going to dry up. So rather than sit back and watch the revenue slip away, they moved toward portable sanitation, which now makes up the majority of their business. In Betty Dageforde’s contractor profile story, read about how the couple built an inventory of 3,000 units, put 15 restroom service trucks on the road and serve a major customer, the Fort Bragg military base.
Top Tip: The Stancils generate business by running an ad on the informational TV monitors at the local Department of Motor Vehicles office. That way everyone who has to renew a license in his town knows about their business.
We love that our kids are stepping up in the business.
Tim and Patty Hack were worried about biting off more than they could chew as they built up their business, Tidy Tim’s Inc., in Mount Gilead, Ohio. They’ve experienced steady growth over the 22 years since they purchased the wastewater company, starting with 28 restrooms and growing the inventory to 350, with three service trucks to take care of them. When they started, their kids were small, but now they are college graduates who have brought a new, youthful energy into the business. In Ken Wysocky’s cover story, learn how the younger and older generations are working together to take Tidy Tim’s to the next level.
Top Tip: Tidy Tim’s is a reminder of how important branding is to growing a small business. The catchy company name carries two connotations that fuel positive customer impressions of good service: Tidy equals “clean,” and folks think about Tiny Tim, a beloved character in Charles Dickens’ tale, A Christmas Carol.
I’m always seeing stars on the job.
Rick Modlin often “goes Hollywood” as the owner of Cal-State Site Services in Simi Valley, California. For the past 25 years, Modlin has built an interesting specialty serving the film and television industry with portable restrooms and fencing. Among Cal-State’s restroom credits are popular TV shows including NCIS, CSI and Sons of Anarchy. In this month’s Pumper Interview story, Modlin shares his tips for meeting the needs of an industry that requires decisive action, improvised solutions, and involves many high-profile users. The rewards are many, including meeting actor Kurt Russell on set and seeing his company’s name show up on film.
Top Tip: Never say “no” when opportunity knocks. When a film production company called Modlin and requested a fencing prop for the movie, Stargate, he took on the job even though he had no idea how to deliver on the promise. But he figured it out, and the movie and TV industry have become lucrative customers.
HOMELESS UPDATE: HAVE YOU BEEN ASKED TO HELP?
As summer approaches, the public will start to see more evidence of homelessness and a growing need to address the portable sanitation challenges that come along with this serious problem in our cities. It’s been two years since I first wrote about public-private partnerships in San Francisco and elsewhere to provide restroom relief to homeless populations and improve sanitary conditions for all city dwellers.
If recent articles are an indication, the problem persists and is spreading far and wide across the U.S. And it may present an opportunity for you to build revenue with municipal customers and provide a valued service to your community.
A recent example was found in Roseburg, Oregon, south of Portland. The city of 21,000 people gave a grant of $4,000 to the United Community Action Network (UCAN) to place portable restrooms in certain street locations where the homeless congregate. This is not a big city, but help is still needed.
“People have basic human needs that have to be met. And without the resources to meet those basic human needs, people will get them met however they can,” Michael Fieldman, of UCAN, said in a recent news story. “Sometimes that becomes problematic for the rest of society. But that’s not indicative of the value or the goodness or badness of the people who have those needs.”
Mirroring the result in similar programs, city officials reported that Roseburg residents appreciate the portable sanitation. Fieldman said that with the proper perspective, the public will generally support programs that provide restrooms to help the homeless.
“It’s not a personal failure,” he said, referring to homelessness. “It really is a failure of society to be able to provide for people’s basic needs.”
Some cities have made major investments to provide pop-up public restrooms in busy downtown areas to serve the general public and the homeless, as well as take pressure off restroom usage at restaurants and shops. As I reported earlier, the Portland Loo is more of a permanent streetside bathroom facility that started in Portland and is now being marketed to other cities. And the city of Santa Rosa, California, has considered renting a restroom trailer and/or shower trailer for $74,000 annually to serve areas with many homeless people. They were also considering renting 10 portable restrooms and hand-wash stations as a less-expensive alternative, for an estimated $22,000 per year.
Have you worked with local government officials to become part of the portable sanitation solution in our downtown districts? Have these cities become your customers, ordering units to be strategically placed to serve the homeless population? As the summer season progresses, I’d like to hear your stories about filling this need.