California’s Legacy Sanitation Enjoys Substantial Growth, Close-Knit Company Atmosphere

Thanks to a dedicated crew of workers, California’s Legacy Sanitation has enjoyed explosive growth and high marks from customers.
California’s Legacy Sanitation Enjoys Substantial Growth, Close-Knit Company Atmosphere
Success is all about a big, hardworking crew at Legacy Sanitation. Here the whole team is gathered for a photo in front of the company’s service truck fleet.

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The 43 employees at Legacy Sanitation aren’t all related – it just seems that way. “Everyone here is a family member, a friend, or a friend of a family member,” says co-owner Bryan Lowe. A close-knit team, he says they continue to strengthen and grow through accountability and high standards, even to the point of checking each other’s work and “pushing each other to greatness.”

The teamwork and shared vision have fed explosive growth at the San Jose, Calif. pumping company. From one truck and 32 portable restroom units, the company has grown to 22 vehicles (13 vacuum trucks) and 3,000 units providing 4,100 weekly services in the San Francisco Bay area in just over four years.


Legacy puts family and community first. Lowe’s wife, Delila, works in customer service and his stepfather Steve Martin is a service driver. There is only one person who hasn’t come to the company through someone who works there. “He was very persistent, yet humble,” says Lowe of one man who applied regularly. “I watched him leave here one day when it was raining and knew that he truly wanted to be on our team, so I followed him out and said, ‘All right, when do you want to start.’ ”

Legacy Sanitation opened its doors in November 2008. Lowe came in with about 20 years of experience in the pumping industry and serves as the chief executive officer. His business partner, Craig Gorewitz, had no industry experience and is president and chief financial officer.

Lowe’s career in the portable sanitation industry began in high school, working summers with his stepfather for Acme and Sons Sanitation, which is where he met his wife. A local family owned the business and took him on full time after he graduated from high school in 1993. Lowe worked there until it was sold 12 years later to a national company. Three years later, Gorewitz and Lowe began building the foundation of Legacy.

“The first month, we did $1,500 in revenue,” says Lowe. That more than doubled to $4,500 in month two and Legacy did a half-million in its first full year. “We doubled it the next year to $1 million. In 2011, we doubled again to $2 million. Last year [2012] was the first year we didn’t double our revenue.”


But it wasn’t a bad year - 61 percent growth and revenue just under $3.2 million. The goal for 2013 is $4.5 million. “I’m astonished at what we’ve done,” says Gorewitz. “We’ve been very fortunate and are positioned to continue to grow.” They’ll now be able to fund growth by reinvesting profits rather than using their own funds.

“We don’t pride ourselves on being the cheapest or the best bargain,” says Lowe. “We pride ourselves on giving the best service and the best product. We have very high standards and those standards are what hold us together.”

An emphasis on long-term relationships with customers and employees extends to all of their vendors, according to Gorewitz. “They see how our company is run and there is a lot of faith in what we’re doing. We back that up by keeping our word and paying on time. We want to succeed, and want our vendors to succeed. If they’re not profitable, it has an effect on us. That’s where the trust factor comes in. I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of that in business anymore.”


Legacy has a broad range of customers. “We have a lot of year-round facilities like quarries, landfills and places where as long as you provide good service, it’s steady income indefinitely,” says Lowe. That accounts for 13 percent of the business.

Septic service, holding tanks, bulk hauling and miscellaneous pumping provide minimal revenue, about 5 percent. “We are a portable restroom company,” he says. “If a customer needs bulk hauling, or has a larger pump job, we’ll put that on a holding tank route or on our transfer truck. It’s not something we target; it’s something we do to take care of our customers.”

Other revenue sources include:

  • Commercial – 38 percent
  • Bridges/Roads – 10 percent
  • Residential – 10 percent
  • Municipal – 9 percent
  • Home Builders, Apartments, Others – 15 percent

Only about 3 percent of revenue comes from special events. The company doesn’t pursue them but will provide bids if asked. “If you’re not careful, your trucks and employees can get run into the ground during the event season,” says Lowe. “If you’re going to do the work, it better make sense financially.”

Most of their events are smaller jobs with 10 to 20 units. The largest is the Northern California Renaissance Faire that draws 150,000 people. It requires about 250 portable restroom units for six weeks and service every Saturday and Sunday night.

Legacy approaches it as a team-building event. Employees sign up as two-person teams with four teams assigned each night. “Service drivers usually work by themselves,” says Lowe. “For the Faire, there are eight of them working together, and as a result our team is usually stronger and tighter after that event.”


Most of Legacy’s 3,000 portable units are supplied by PolyPortables Inc. The ADA and high-rise units, about 150, come from Satellite.

The standard truck service chassis is the International 4300. Flatbeds are built in-house or at a local shop. Its vacuum trucks are built by Southwest Products, mainly with the Masport HXL4V vacuum unit. Most have 1,500-gallon steel tanks (1,000 waste, 500 fresh). The company just bought a new 3,500/200-gallon steel tank truck with a Jurop LC420 pump for holding and septic tanks. The second septic service truck is older, with a 1,500/60-gallon steel tank and a Thompson J-292 vacuum system.

Its transport trailers are built in-house, and they have one dual and one single trailer unit from Nu-Concepts along with a two-stall shower trailer built by Legacy. Legacy stocks 450 hand-wash stations and 500 containment trays from PolyPortables. There are nine other vehicles for sales and delivery. All the company’s chemicals come from Walex, and other supplies like fittings and hoses are from TOICO Industries.

Scheduling, billing and route management is done with Summit Systems software from Ritam Technologies. Working with Ritam, Lowe has linked the program to the Microsoft MapPoint system. Drivers use a push-to-talk cell service from Sprint or any standard GPS device.


While Legacy’s approach has resulted in fast growth, Lowe’s vision is not so much about business. “We’re grooming and building great people,” he says. “Their quality of life is impacted and they become better people. If you take pride in what you’re doing and become part of a team, you walk prouder with your head up.”

Lowe and Gorewitz have learned about personal growth and teamwork through a leadership program where they met in 1998. Since then, the two have led classes for the program and do a lot of volunteer work in the community.

Frank and Diane Youngblood, the owners of Acme, visited recently. Lowe was thrilled to show Frank, 78, the strides he’d made in the industry. “I just let him know the impact he made on my life and how what he did for me made this possible,” says Lowe. “He saw how far we’d come in just four years and he had a sparkle in his eye, he was very proud.”

Lowe says his wife helps keep him grounded. “She makes sure I never forget what’s most important. That is what we’ve built, how we built it, where we came from, and why we did this – to provide opportunity for our family and our community and to provide income to employees who can go home and take care of their families.”


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