You Can’t Beat a Reputation for Cleanliness in the Portable Sanitation Industry

Spotless restrooms are the key to success for Cristine Glass and Ohio’s ASAP Sanitary Services.

You Can’t Beat a Reputation for Cleanliness in the Portable Sanitation Industry

John Ackworth stands with the newest truck in the ASAP Sanitary Services fleet, a 2018 International built by Imperial Industries and carrying a 1,500-gallon waste and 500-gallon freshwater aluminum tank and National Vacuum Equipment blower.

People are usually a little shocked when Cristine Glass shows up to deliver portable restrooms since she’s barely 5 feet tall and “weighs nothing.” But it’s just one of the many hats she wears as the owner of ASAP Sanitary Services in Chardon, Ohio. The 27-year-old is not afraid to do anything, whether it’s get her hands dirty, figure out how to set up a website, or knock on doors.

“I do everything in the business except drive the septic truck and pump septic tanks,” she says. She’ll do whatever it takes to grow the business she and her husband, John Ackworth, purchased in February 2016, but she thinks there are two important keys to success: marketing and a relentless insistence on clean units.

While Ackworth helps out with mechanical problems and will chip in during an emergency, he has his hands full running another business providing solidification services for oil and gas companies. So while he heads south about 60 miles in the morning, she goes north 60 miles to her 8-acre facility where she’s got a 2,000-square-foot office building and a 10,000-square-foot garage. But she gets help from her four route drivers, two delivery drivers, two yard technicians, one septic driver, one salesman and two office staff (one full time and one part time). Their 60-mile-radius service territory covers seven counties. About 70 percent of their work is portable sanitation, and 30 percent is septic and grease trap pumping.


Glass didn’t come to the pumping industry without credentials. Her grandfather, Tom Glass, was in the business when she was growing up, and she enjoyed working for him. “It was just something I had fun doing,” she says. Most recently she worked for an excavating and trucking company, managing their fleet of approximately 200 trucks. But she had bigger ambitions. “I got sick of working for other people,” she says. “I wanted to do something for myself and grow something for myself.”

The couple believed buying an existing business was more practical and a better use of their time and money than starting something from scratch. Right out of the gate, they had customers, equipment, trucks and employees.

“Starting from scratch is a hobby unless you have more than 200 restrooms,” Glass says. “I would have still had to maintain another full-time position elsewhere until we reached a certain number of units.”

After they found a business to buy — but before signing on the dotted line — they spent four months looking for a location for it, as it was being operated out of the owner’s family property. They also changed the name.

The transition was fairly smooth. The equipment was in good condition, but the route organization system needed a major overhaul. “It was very 1980s — on note cards and binders,” Glass says, “So I had to go through and enter every customer into the computer and make routes and group things together because a lot of them were crisscrossing back and forth.” She uses Summit business management software from Ritam Technologies.

The drivers all stayed on, although Glass admits it was a bit of an adjustment for them. “They were used to listening to an older male and didn’t like that I was some young woman telling them what to do. And they were worried I didn’t know anything.” But they soon saw that she knew what she was doing, had high standards and treated them like family.


In addition to stabilizing the operating procedures, Glass set up a website and attended a class at the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show on search engine optimization to get maximum exposure for it. “That class really did help me,” she says. “And what they teach does work, so it was very helpful for me, especially because I’m not some big website person.”

She then wasted no time drumming up more business. Her marketing consisted of cold-calling and looking at websites for potential customers and then emailing them. Within six months, she had to buy three truckloads of units to add to the approximately 700 units that came with the business. Then in 2017, she bought out two other companies, each with about 100 units, and purchased another three truckloads.

“I’m one of those very persistent sellers,” she says. “If I know of something, I want my restrooms to be there. I will go above and beyond to figure out a way to get the business.” She feels so strongly about the importance of marketing that in March 2017 she hired a full-time salesperson. He makes calls; sends out emails; meets with customers; and drops by construction sites, events, and company plants.

The inventory is currently up to approximately 1,200 units (PolyPortables and Five Peaks). There are a variety of colors. Blue is popular for lake events, dark green for golf courses and parks, and gender-designated pinks and blues for some of the fairs and running events. They also have 86 ADA units (Five Peaks, PolyPortables and PolyJohn Enterprises), 26 hand-wash stations (PolyPortables and PolyJohn Enterprises), 12 250-gallon holding tanks (PolyPortables), and five single-unit showers (PolyPortables) often used at scout camps and campgrounds.

Another step Glass took to expand the business was adding septic and grease trap pumping. Customers were asking for it, and she knew she could offer something some of the other companies didn’t — namely 24/7 availability for emergencies. After buying a septic truck at the 2016 WWETT Show — a 2016 International 7500 built out by Imperial Industries with a 4,000-gallon aluminum tank and National Vacuum Equipment 4307 blower — they were ready to go.

They have a Mighty Probe from T&T Tools, but locating septic tanks is made a little easier because of the Ohio regulation requiring all septic tanks to have risers. They try to service all their grease traps in one day to minimize trips to the disposal site located an hour away.


Growing a business doesn’t just involve marketing. It also requires good service, and Glass says she’s a fanatic when it comes to cleanliness.

“Everything is cleaned with bleach and soap when it comes off rent, before it goes to the next customer,” she says. She requires technicians to pressure wash the holding tank interiors and scrub every roof. “I’m very picky. If it’s not clean enough, I make them reclean it.”

To ensure compliance, she conducts random spot-checks. There’s rarely a problem, she says, because the crew knows her expectations. But if there is an issue, she doesn’t usually have to tell the employee what they need to do. “They just realize it’s a reality check, and they need to do their job better,” she says.

The fleet is also kept clean, with everything washed once or twice weekly. The company has five International vacuum trucks, most built out by Imperial Industries. The 2018 has a 1,500-gallon waste and 500-gallon freshwater aluminum tank and a National Vacuum Equipment blower. The two 2005s have 1,500-gallon waste and 500-gallon freshwater aluminum tanks, and the 2015 and 2016 have 1,200-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater aluminum tanks, all with Masport pumps. The trucks are outfitted with Pumptec 356U power washers, dual access controls, and GPS tracking devices from US Fleet Tracking. Their two 2005 Chevy Kodiaks, built out by Imperial Industries with 350-gallon waste and 150-gallon freshwater aluminum tanks and Masport pumps, can carry six units and are used for deliveries along with three 10-unit trailers from Triton Trailers. Their deodorant products are from J&J Chemical.

They use several area treatment plants for disposal — unfortunately not the one that’s practically in their backyard because it does not accept septage, but they’re hoping that will change in the future.


About 40 percent of the company’s portable restroom work is for events, 20 percent construction, and 40 percent for what they consider commercial accounts that rent monthly, such as industrial plants, yacht clubs, and sports clubs. They’re located near Amish country and have enjoyed a good relationship with the Amish community. Although the Amish do not use computers or fax machines, they do have some community phones and a few cell phones to communicate with outsiders. The company provides units for their weddings, funerals, and outdoor functions, as well as some of their commercial operations such as salvage stores, produce stands, sawmills, and woodworking shops.

In June 2017, ASAP Sanitary Services landed its biggest job to date, providing 117 standard units, 25 ADA-compliant units, 23 hand-wash stations and eight baby changing stations for the two-day Thunder Over the Valley Air Show in Vienna. Glass says everything went very smoothly. “The hardest part was getting into the military base — having them check your trucks and your units to make sure everything was proper.”

Located only 20 miles from Lake Erie, they do a number of shore-side events, providing portable restrooms for visitors and using their septic truck to pump waste tanks on boats and ships.


Glass says her goal is to grow the inventory to between 6,000 to 8,000 units. She admits it’s ambitious, but she’s determined. “I want to be that big company that everyone knows,” she says. “But not only that, I want to be known as the company that has the cleanest and nicest units, so when you order something, you’re not worried about what you’re getting. You know what to expect from my company.”

She says she has the motivation, drive, and love for the business. “It’s crazy, but I enjoy it. It’s something I love to do.” 


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