Girl Power Drives Ohio Septic Service Company To Continued Success

Young Crissy Glass and mom Laura manage the septic and portable sanitation lines at Ohio’s Tom’s Sewer & Septic, while father Rick and sister Lauren turn to the potential of the gas and oil industry.
Girl Power Drives Ohio Septic Service Company To Continued Success
Crissy and Rick Glass sit on their latest septic service truck, a 2013 Peterbilt with a 4,000-gallon aluminum tank from Rush Refuse Systems.

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As a young girl, Crissy Glass posed for photos in front of her father’s vacuum trucks because she thought the trucks were “cool.” Later, she was shocked when she found out what the trucks were used for. These days, however, the petite 24-year-old is totally cool being photographed with the trucks and workers she manages as part of Tom’s Sewer and Septic Service in McDonald, Ohio.

Rick and Laura Glass credit daughter Crissy for growing the portable restroom and septic pumping business, so that Rick and another daughter, Lauren Jursik, can focus on growing a new industrial business targeting gas and oil clients.

WOMEN IN CHARGE

“For the past 2 1/2 years, Crissy has run the day-to-day business,” Rick says. “She has grown into a person who can handle it all. She takes the calls, schedules, handles customer and employee issues, and does the bookkeeping. She pretty much calls the shots.”

Rick says the women in leadership roles, starting with his wife, “push it hard and do a great job.’’

“I’m only 5 feet tall and don’t fit the industry [image],” Crissy admits. “When I go to the local health department, they are surprised how young I am. At the Pumper show, suppliers I talk to on the phone are surprised when they see me.”

Having grown up with the business – especially building the portable restroom side of the operation – she understands all aspects. She occasionally rides with drivers on septic routes and has made it a point to go along on restroom deliveries for events.

“I meet the customers so we can put faces with names,” she says. “I help with the delivery and show the customer that someone is in charge. It makes for awesome customer service.”

History is repeating itself, with Crissy following a similar path Rick took in the family business.

STARTED EARLY

The business is named after Rick’s father, Tom Glass, who started pumping septic tanks in 1957.

“I originally started in sewer and drain when I was 14, and as I got older I started driving with my dad,” Rick recalls. As Rick took over more responsibilities, he started an industrial company, Project Management Services, and ran it until he sold it eight years ago.

Rick purchased the sewer and drain side of the business in 1998, and Crissy started learning the ropes before she could drive when she went to the Pumper & Cleaner Expo with her dad. Before she could vote, she was learning how to manage employees that were older and more experienced.

“I told the girls to hold their ground. They can’t let employees dictate. We have to run a tight ship. To make happy repeat customers we have rules to follow,” Rick says. “They’ve earned respect.”

It was difficult in the beginning, Crissy admits, and she sent a few workers home when they wouldn’t listen to her. Now, with eight years of experience, she has no issues with drivers.

“I was retiring, and then when the oil and gas industry started up I saw an opportunity,” Rick says. With Crissy successfully managing the restroom/septic business, four years ago he started Global Oil and Gas, hauling water, cleaning frac tanks and providing other industrial cleaning services.

SPOT CHECKS

The Glass family added restrooms to the business the year Crissy attended her first Pumper & Cleaner Expo, which is being rebadged the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show (WWETT) for 2015.

“There only seemed to be one other competitor, and he didn’t have nice [portable restrooms]. We figured we’d buy nice ones and work hard on keeping them clean,” Rick says, noting they purchased a truckload of units at the Expo.

To ensure a “clean” reputation, Crissy and Laura made spot checks. It didn’t take long for workers to make sure they were doing quality work.

“We were pushing it for the first six months,” Rick says. “We wanted to make sure we were doing a super good job. We wanted to make sure a woman would be willing to use them.”

Service protocol includes a thorough washing with a scrub brush and hose (or power washer, if necessary) on site. When restrooms are returned to the yard, they are thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution before they go out again.

“I think the most important thing we do is bleach every unit from top to bottom, inside and outside,” Crissy says.

PERSISTENT MARKETING

Between building a reputation for cleanliness and Crissy’s persistent marketing, that truckload of restrooms has grown to more than 800 units, bringing in half of the business’s income.

“I made a lot of phone calls and faxed a lot of flyers. I grew it from my desk,” Crissy says.

She doesn’t call potential customers just once. In her confident but young and friendly voice, she calls customers repeatedly to convince them to try Tom’s Sewer and Septic Service.

“I go up the chain if the person I called is not responding,” Crissy says. To attract new customers she offers many coupon specials. For example, in the spring there was a special on restrooms for graduation parties. Her persistence recently paid off when she landed a contract for 45 restrooms for a run event.

She uses the slower time in winter months to make contacts, and she reads area papers for opportunities.

“On the construction side, we focus on big projects,” Crissy adds. When a steel plant was built, Tom’s supplied 110 restrooms, six restroom trailers and 16 hand-wash stations for more than 2 1/2 years. Besides being a good contract, having their name visible that long was like free advertising to subcontractors working on the project.

She also runs coupons in a monthly flyer booklet of local businesses, as well as ads in the phone book and on a smartphone app.

“We are one of two companies in a 100-mile radius [on the app], so we have a 50/50 chance,” Crissy says.

MODERN EQUIPMENT

“My dad always taught me you’ve got to crawl before you walk. As we grow, we invest in more equipment,” Rick says. “We’re really growing on the commercial side with the restaurant grease trap business.”

On the septic side, Tom’s has a 2013 Peterbilt with a 4,000-gallon aluminum tank from Rush Refuse Systems, a 2011 International with a 4,200-gallon aluminum tank built by Progress Tank and a 1993 GMC with a 2,200-gallon aluminum tank. The trucks have Masport pumps.

Portable sanitation trucks include two 2012 Ford F-550s with 1,100-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater tanks; a 2008 Ford F-550 with a 300-gallon waste/150-gallon freshwater tank built by Progress Tank; a 2006 Chevy Kodiak 5500 14-foot stake body with lift gate with a 400-gallon waste/200-gallon freshwater tank built by Progress; a 2005 Chevy 5500 with a 1,100-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater tank built by Progress; and a 2002 Ford F-550 with a 600-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater tank built by Marsh Industrial. All tanks are aluminum and all trucks are equipped with Masport pumps.

The portable restrooms include 407 PJN3 and Comfort XL units from PolyJohn Enterprises; 150 High Tech, 28 Taurus and three Freedom Handicap from Satellite Industries; 84 Armal; and 56 Five Peaks units. Tom’s also has hand-wash stations including 15 from PolyPortables and two from PolyJohn. For optional services for their customers Tom’s invested in three Black Tie Products restroom trailers and 34 250-gallon holding tanks from Kentucky Tank. The restrooms are transported on two McKee Technologies Explorer 10-unit trailers.

In addition to offering clean, quality restrooms, Crissy continually looks to new Walex Products Inc. deodorants for both the restrooms and the septic service trucks.

A BRIGHT FUTURE

Rick admits he wasn’t sure about breaking into portable sanitation. But now he likes to joke that, “It’s like having 800 employees out there that give me a little crap every day.”

His recent purchase of a Guzzler HXX from Jack Doheny Companies provides new opportunities. The 2014 Kenworth hydroexcavator has a 4-inch trash pump, 6-inch release valve and 8-inch boom.

As he expands the area of his industrial business, the territory of the pumping and portable sanitation business is also growing. The family plans on expanding to an office between Akron and Cleveland and adding 500 to 800 more restrooms units over the next few years.

“What’s nice is that a lot of people see your name in multiple areas. They know you cover a lot of counties,” Rick says. “We try to keep the reputation of having nice, clean and new trucks. We invest in the company by keeping up an image with good guys that look good, dressed as a team.”

In spite of the family business’s past success, Crissy admits she got a little nervous when the economy slowed down a few years ago. She decided to attend night school as a backup plan.

She earned certification in cosmetology, but says that she never needed to change careers. Tom’s continues to grow, and she enjoys her job managing it. And, thanks to her cosmetology skills, she looks professional and confident as she works to build the business.

With Crissy managing from the office, Rick is confident about the success of the third-generation business.

“She knows it well and does a great job,” Rick says.

MORE INFORMATION

Armal, Inc. - 866/873-7796 - www.armal.biz

Black Tie Products - 877/253-3533 - www.blacktieservices.com

Five Peaks - 866/293-1502 - www.fivepeaks.net

Guzzler Manufacturing - 800/627-3171 - www.guzzler.com

Kentucky Tank, Inc. - 888/459-8265 - www.kentuckytank.com

Marsh Industrial - 800/952-1537 - www.marshind.com

Masport, Inc. - 800/228-4510 - www.masportpump.com

McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers - 866/457-5425 - www.explorertrailers.com

PolyJohn Enterprises - 800/292-1305 - www.polyjohn.com

PolyPortables, LLC - 800/241-7951 - www.polyportables.com

Progress Tank - 800/558-9750 - www.progresstank.com

Rush Refuse Systems - 877/661-4511 - www.rushrefusesystems.com

Satellite Industries - 800/328-3332 - www.satelliteindustries.com

Walex Products Company, Inc. - 800/338-3155 - www.walex.com



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