New Jersey Family Pumps Septic And Portable Sanitation Waste For 60 Years

Carpentry and craftsmanship are an integral part of the business plan for New Jersey’s Tom Caprioni and his skilled crew of workers.
New Jersey Family Pumps Septic And Portable Sanitation Waste For 60 Years
Dominick and Tom Caprioni of Caprioni Family Septic and Caprioni Portable Toilets, are shown with one of the company’s Peterbilt septic service trucks built out by Vacuum Sales Inc. with a Masport pump.

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Tiiki bars and tourist activities along the South Jersey coast were the inspiration for Tom Caprioni to add restroom trailers to his portable sanitation business in 1996. Nobody else provided restroom trailer rentals at the time, Caprioni says, and he had a hunch they’d be popular.

He bought his first one, but as a do-it-yourselfer with a background in construction and a love of craftsmanship, Caprioni was itching to work on his own design. He produced the first unit in 1998 and hasn’t stopped. His company, Caprioni Portable Toilets, now has 60 trailers and builds about four a year.

Caprioni Portables operates out of a facility in Belleplain, New Jersey, about 35 miles west of Atlantic City on the Cape May Peninsula, with its sister company, Caprioni Family Septic. About half the 30 employees of the two corporations are family members, including Caprioni’s wife, Genia, who does accounting work for the businesses.

The origins of this family-run enterprise go back to 1954 when Caprioni’s father, Dominick, started pumping septic tanks part time, in addition to his full-time job as a dredge operator, to provide a more comfortable life for his wife, Ruth, and their growing family. Caprioni and his brother, Richard, grew up in the business. For nearly 30 years, they did strictly septic work, servicing their small town of about 500 and the residents of the surrounding rural region. The business eventually grew to include commercial accounts, pumping grease traps and hauling sludge.

In 1982, the family decided to add portable restrooms to their service offerings. They bought 105 fiberglass units and started a new division, which now accounts for 50 percent of their work. And while not a big part of the business, they also began offering 8-by-20-foot SEA BOX Inc. steel storage containers. “I bought a trailer for my skid units, so I figured while I’ve got it I would do storage containers, too,” Caprioni explains.

In the late ‘80s, the brothers took over the two businesses – Richard the septic side and Tom the portable restrooms. Unfortunately, Richard, only 52, passed away unexpectedly in 2010. A new corporate structure was set up to stabilize the company and create a formal arrangement for future family succession involving Tom’s sons, Thomas Jr. and Andrew, and Richard’s son, Dominick.


Although he was heavily involved in the family business growing up, when work slowed down in the winters Caprioni would keep busy by doing construction projects. By the time he decided to make his own trailers, Caprioni had developed the skills to do it. He worked with his father-in-law, Gene Bailey, who also had a construction background, and the guys on his team who had built some of the company’s tanks and transport trailers, and came up with a design. “I have a welder right here and we started from the frame up,” Caprioni says.

Today he’s got two large shops and three people who concentrate on building trailers during the slow months. “We only build in the winter,” he says. “We’ll start around October and finish the last one up in June.” The number of units they build each year depends on demand and the condition of their fleet. “Every year we get another two or three customers for them,” he says. “So we figure out what’s going on. We always upgrade the older ones or get rid of [them] and build new ones.”

From the outside, the trailer looks like a tiny house with a white picket fence around the side entrances, porch lights over the doors and the appearance of cedar shake shingle siding. The siding is actually vinyl – Cedar Impressions from CertainTeed Corporation – and comes in a variety of colors. The company typically uses tan, gray and white. They also put a sturdy roof on the trailer, Caprioni says. “It’s solid fiberglass. You can get on all our roofs and do what you want to do.” 

Caprioni carries the homey theme into the interior. “It looks like you’re in a house,” he says. The ceiling is tongue-and-groove cedar, the walls are half wood paneling and half marbled plastic laminate, and floors are linoleum in either a stone or wood grain pattern. Some units have pedestal sinks, others have marble or stone laminate vanities. All have heat and air conditioning.

The company makes three sizes for its own use – double (one women’s, one men’s), medium (two women’s, one men’s, two urinals) and large (five women’s, two men’s, three urinals, or four women’s, two men’s, two urinals).

Most of the units are rented out for four or five months at a time during the summer. They’re used by beachfront swimming and camping facilities as well as restaurants that set up tiki bars and eateries along the beach during the summer. They’re also requested by municipal customers who place them along boardwalks. A few units are kept aside for weddings, outdoor parties and seafood festivals. At the end of the busy season, most are brought back to the yard and stored for the winter.

Using the same design, the company also built five shower trailers – a four-stall, six-stall, nine-stall, 10-stall and a one-stall with a restroom. They’re used at camping events, church revivals and other overnight outdoor functions.


Facilities and some of the staff are shared between the two companies. Drivers generally specialize in one side or the other. Many employees have been with the company a long time, some for 15 and 20 years. “I guess I’m all right to work for,” Caprioni says by way of explanation. Their service territory covers about an 80-mile radius – south and east to the Atlantic Ocean, west to Delaware Bay and north along the Pennsylvania border to Camden County across the river from Philadelphia.

On the septic side, in addition to pumping, making repairs and cleaning drainlines, the company is licensed to perform inspections, requiring them to keep up with ever-changing regulations. “There’s new laws coming in every week it seems like,” Caprioni says. They generally aren’t involved in installations.

They try to foster good customer relationships by posting educational information on their website, offering maintenance plans and making it easy for customers to find them everywhere, from the phone book to social media.

Summer is a busy time as vacation properties and summer homes are opened up and need septic service. There’s more grease trap pumping as restaurants get busier with tourist traffic. And the company also contracts with a number of campgrounds to pump holding tanks for the season.


The company has five 1999 to 2009 septic trucks. Four are Peterbilts – two with 5,000-gallon steel tanks, one with a 3,600-gallon aluminum tank and one with a 2,000-gallon steel tank – and one is a Mack with a 3,500-gallon aluminum tank. All have Masport Inc. pumps and were built out by Vacuum Sales Inc.

They also run three older 6,000-gallon tankers of unknown manufacture to haul sludge and leachate for their municipal utility customers, with another three kept in their yard for backup. To pull the tankers, the company has five tractors – Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt and two Macks.

On the portable sanitation side, Caprioni’s has an inventory of more than 2,000 Satellite Industries Tufways and PolyJohn Enterprises PJN3 units. Most are blue, but Caprioni decided to pick up a few pink units for women-only use. “I just started buying them,” he says. “I thought it was a good idea.” It caught on quick, he says, and they’ve now got about 125 of them. They’ve also got 50 wheelchair-accessible and ADA-compliant units and 40 hand-wash stations, also from Satellite and PolyJohn. Their odor-control products are from Walex Products.

The service fleet includes a 2013 Peterbilt built out by Vacuum Sales Inc. and a 2015 Peterbilt built out by Robinson Vacuum Tanks with 1,500-gallon waste/500-gallon freshwater tanks, one aluminum, the other steel; a 2014 Ford F-450 and a 2014 Ford F-550 outfitted by Coleman Vacuum Tank with 900-gallon waste/200-gallon freshwater aluminum tanks; three 2001-2002 Ford F-650 trucks built in-house with 1,000-gallon waste/500-gallon freshwater stainless steel tanks; and a 2000 International, purchased used, with a 900-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater aluminum tank. Pumps are all Masport Inc. They have five transport trailers – four built in-house and one from McKee Technologies Inc., which can haul eight to 14 units.


The company celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2014. Caprioni sees nothing but growth ahead for both sides of the business, but particularly for the popular restroom trailers, which have far exceeded his expectations.

Caprioni, 60, is preparing the next generation to take over. But he won’t be walking away from the company that’s been so much a part of his life. “I’ll never really retire,” he says. “Just lie back a little bit. I’ll always be involved.” 


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