Pumping company handles as much maintenance as possible in-house and it pays off in a big way.

For Phil’s Septic Pumping Service, having a crew that knows its way around the garage pays big dividends. The Marathon, Ontario-based company has raised its bottom line by performing most truck and equipment maintenance over the years.

The company, owned by the wife-and-husband team of Ashley and Lee Riendeau, provides septic service and portable sanitation, taking care of 100 restrooms and four vacuum service trucks. Marathon is located on the north shore of Lake Superior and many service contracts require traveling unpaved gravel roads that take their toll on the trucks.

“We get damage to shocks and springs from the rough roads, and the gravel that’s kicked up is hard on the trucks, the windshields and the lights,” says Ashley Riendeau. “That requires a lot of extra maintenance.”

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From routine maintenance to oil changes and straightforward mechanical repairs, much of the work is handled in-house by her husband and a part-time mechanic. “Anything that can’t be fixed between those two is sent to a local mechanic’s shop,” she says. “We currently rent shop space, but we’re looking at purchasing another building or building a new shop.”

The equipment inventory includes restrooms and hand-wash units from PolyJohn Canada, restroom trailers from Room To Go and Vacutrux Limited, and trucks from SchellVac Equipment and Vacutrux. Wallenstein and Fruitland pumps are used.

The story behind the company’s 2011 Dodge Ram 3500 portable sanitation truck exemplifies the benefits of a do-it-yourself mind-set.

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“A gold mine in our service area was shutting down,” says Riendeau. “They were a customer of ours and we made a deal with them to continue to service their portable toilets on the surface during their demolition phase.” In exchange, the mine offered to give the restroom contractor a trailer-mounted 240-gallon steel tank and pump from Vacutrux Limited that had been used to service 15 underground restrooms.

“We had to make some modifications to the tank and pump to make it work on our truck,” says Riendeau. “We then added a 210-gallon freshwater plastic tank. The only costs aside from the truck itself were a few small parts and a bit of labor. It took a few weeks, but was one of the best decisions we've made for the business. That truck has been running daily ever since.”

The gold mine sweetened the deal by throwing in the 15 restrooms that had seen heavy underground service. “They were in rough shape, so we gave some of them away,” she says. “But we were still able to use some of them as low-fee rentals for cottages in the area.”

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Read more about Phil's Septic Service in the August issue of Pumper.

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