Clayton and Caryn Smith Capitalize on a Building Boom

Due to spikes in construction and emerging special event work, Texas pumping company B&S Port-O-Jons has seen its workload continue to shift from septic to portable sanitation service over the years.

Clayton and Caryn Smith Capitalize on a Building Boom

Caryn Smith schedules restroom routes in the B&S Port-O-Jons office.

After many years working in portable sanitation, Caryn Smith has learned the importance of planning ahead. Owner with her husband, Clayton Smith, of B&S Port-O-Jons in Waco, Texas, she has also learned that customers who need portable restrooms often need help with planning.

“In this business, a lot of people wait until the day of an event and then go, ‘Oh, I forgot we need toilets.’ We get that a lot,” Smith says.

She says she walks clients through a rule-of-thumb formula (200 uses per unit) for how many restrooms will be needed for an expected crowd. But she often finds herself telling customers they are only planning for everyone to use the restroom one time. Some will go more than that, she explains, and when an event involves alcohol or food or more time, more restrooms are needed.

The planning involves mapping out the locations of restrooms as well. Often clients want to put portable restrooms in places that are convenient for users but inconvenient or impossible for servicing.

“That happens at construction sites,” Smith says. “We tell them they can put it over there close to where they can use it, but if we can’t get to it because there is material or equipment in front of it or there’s a mudhole in front of it, then we can’t service it. Then, a lot of time, as soon as you say it, they go, ‘Oh that’s a good idea.’

“A lot of it is education, but people don’t want to be educated about toilets,” she says.


Caryn and Clayton Smith were married in December 2017. They had been good friends and co-workers for years before that. Both have children from previous marriages. Two of Caryn Smith’s daughters and her son also worked for B&S Port-O-Jons over the years and one still does.

Clayton Smith, 62, describes himself as semiretired now and says he doesn’t get involved much in the day-to-day operations of the business. Caryn Smith, 61, runs the office and sometimes works on a vacuum truck for special events.

“I’m kind of hands-on,” she says. “I don’t go out and run a route. I could, but I don’t.”

When she started working for Clayton Smith, she was the office manager for Bullet Delivery Service, which operated out of the same office as B&S Port-O-Jons. The partnership that owned B&S Port-O-Jons split in 2001, and Clayton Smith became the sole owner. It was at that time when Pumper first featured B&S Port-O-Jons in a profile story, and the company has grown significantly since then.

“He asked me if I could manage this business, too,” Smith recalls. “I had heard enough going on in the office that I had a pretty good idea what was going on. I said, ‘Sure, it’s not rocket science.’ Of course, I have kind of regretted that statement many times. It’s true that it’s not rocket science, but there is a lot more to it than people think.”

In 2004, B&S Port-O-Jons grew substantially in an unexpected way, taking over the customers of a portable restroom operator in Austin, which is about 100 miles south of Waco.

“We didn’t buy it; he went bankrupt,” she says. “He said, ‘Here’s my customer list. Go take care of them.’ And we did.”

For several years, B&S Port-O-Jons maintained an office in Austin, but in 2012, the company moved everything back up to Waco.

“The gentleman who was running that office was leaving, and it didn’t seem to be worth keeping an office down there, so we pulled back a little bit,” she says. “We pulled back from some of the areas where we had been trying to stretch.”

That turned out to be a good decision, she thinks.


Waco has proven to be a good market for pumping, especially portable sanitation. B&S Port-O-Jons had about 750 restrooms in 2001 but has about 1,200 now. At one point it had close to 1,500 restrooms, but it cut back during the recession a decade ago. Now the company is contemplating more growth.

Part of the reason is a great deal of construction in and around Waco.  

“There are a lot of subdivisions going in — a lot of work — and they’re getting ready to widen Interstate 35 again,” Smith says. “We have competition in Waco, but there seems to be plenty to do for everybody.”

Originally the company was on a 1-acre site, then it expanded into the lot next door. B&S Port-O-Jons quickly outgrew that space, and in 2004, it bought a 10-acre site that had formerly been the home of a construction company. B&S Port-O-Jons has been able to use all the buildings on the site, including the warehouses. The site has better access to I-35 than the company’s previous home, and it’s also closer to Baylor University, a regular customer.

The company services restrooms outside the stadium for Baylor football games, as well as other events at the stadium, and it regularly handles special events at the 16,000-student university.

As portable sanitation took off, septic pumping has become a smaller part of the company’s business. None of the drivers work exclusively on the septic side. “It’s not something we do a whole lot of anymore,” Smith says. “We just don’t pursue it like we used to.”

B&S Port-O-Jons doesn’t aggressively seek new septic pumping work, but it still serves residential and commercial clients. Many of the residential clients are also customers of the portable restroom side of the business. The commercial clients include a SpaceX rocket-testing site in McGregor, about 20 miles west of Waco.

“We all know it when they are testing a rocket out there,” she says. “It sounds like rolling thunder.”


B&S Port-O-Jons has acquired a large fleet of vacuum trucks and trailers. They include three Freightliners — a 2003, 2004 and 2006 — each one with a 1,500-gallon waste and 500-gallon freshwater aluminum tank with Masport pumps from Lely Tank & Waste Solutions (used for portable sanitation and septic service); a 2017 Dodge Ram 5500 with a 500-gallon waste and 200-gallon freshwater steel tank and Honda-driven pump from Lely; and a 2005 GMC and 2007 International flatbed, both with 750-gallon waste and 250-gallon freshwater flat steel tanks and Masport pumps, the GMC from Crescent Tank and the International from Lely. The flatbed trucks can carry eight restrooms each.

The vacuum truck fleet also includes a 2001 GMC with a 1,200-gallon waste and 500-gallon freshwater stainless steel tank and Conde pump from Westmoor and built by Best Enterprises; a 2016 Dodge Ram 5500 with a 1,100-gallon waste and 400-gallon freshwater aluminum tank and Masport pump, from FlowMark Vacuum Trucks; and a 1999 International, with a 1,100-gallon waste and 400-gallon freshwater steel tank with a Masport pump.

For hauling restrooms, the company has a 2014 Dodge Ram flatbed that hauls eight restrooms and has a 250-gallon freshwater tank, plus three trucks to pull trailers — a 2006 F-350, 2004 F-350 and 1999 F-350. The trailer fleet includes a 20-unit McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers, a 2007 John Deere that can haul five regular units or four handicap units, an 18-unit hauler and a couple of homemade trailers: one that holds 10 units and one that holds eight.

The restroom inventory is a mix of PolyJohn and Satellite | PolyPortables units. B&S Port-O-Jons uses aqua units, mostly PolyJohn, for construction sites and red or red, white and blue units for special events. All the special event restrooms are Integra models from Satellite | PolyPortables. The 40 sinks and 25 handicapped-accessible units are from both PolyJohn and Satellite | PolyPortables. Recently added to the inventory are Stowaway hand-wash stations from EndureQuest.

On the luxury end, B&S Port-O-Jons offers two red Boudoir units with flushable toilets from Satellite | PolyPortables that Smith says are popular for weddings; a 2015 Wells Cargo ADA-compliant restroom trailer; and two Advanced Containment Systems restroom trailers, each with five women’s stalls, two men’s stalls and two urinals and two sinks on each side, and a shower/lavatory unit with two stalls.


Servicing construction sites and other regular clients represents about half of the company’s business. Special events make up another 35%, and the rest is restroom warehousing and pumping septic tanks. The warehousing part of the business started in 2003. B&S Port-O-Jons would store and assemble units for manufacturers and a trucking company would come pick them up for delivery.

Clayton Smith says the warehousing and assembly has been an important part of a business that started with just 12 portable restrooms. “We’ve grown in leaps and bounds,” he says. “What’s really helped a lot is warehousing and assembling for other companies. That’s really been a plus for us.”

Pumping food trucks have added a new element to the business, although it is still a small revenue stream. “We’ve had a couple of customers with food trucks, but they are not grease traps; we’re pumping off their graywater,” Caryn Smith says. Grease pumping is not something they want to expand.

Smith says it’s hard to schedule because the grease pumping has to be done separately from septic pumping to avoid having problems at the wastewater treatment plant. “We don’t do a lot of that,” she says. “It’s not worth the hassle. We still do grease traps, but it’s not our favorite thing.”

Among the special events B&S Port-O-Jons has serviced are a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, an Ironman triathlon, the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo, the Margarita and Salsa Festival in Waco and numerous events for Baylor University. B&S Port-O-Jons is often the winning bidder for events sponsored by the city of Waco, such as the Fourth of July celebration and Brazos Nights. Since 2003, B&S Port-O-Jons has been one of the PROs serving Chilifest in Snook, which isn’t far from College Station, the home of Texas A&M University.

Smith says Chilifest is one of her favorite events, and she personally works on a service truck along with Ron Orso, the company’s operations manager. “It’s a lot of trouble, but it’s fun to see how crazy the kids are going to be,” she says.

Orso is a special employee, she says, and not just because he has helped run the daily operations for more than 10 years. He also provides the music for the annual Christmas party for employees and friends of B&S Port-O-Jons and Bullet Delivery Service.

“We decorate the warehouse, cook lots of food and of course provide ‘cheer,’ but our main event is Ron,” Smith says. Orso, in a band that performs in northern Texas and Oklahoma for many years, plays guitar and sings. Smith says he has performed for almost all of the company’s parties since he started working there. “He is very ‘instrumental’ in the success of our annual party, as well as our day-to-day business,” Smith says.


Smith says she, her husband and Orso often joke about how easy it is for things to go wrong in the portable sanitation business. She has a poster in her office of Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

“Ron says he can’t plan anything because every day when he comes in he has to see if everybody’s here and if all the trucks start. If Clayton asks me how it’s going, and I say, ‘The usual,’ he’ll ask, ‘Who quit and what truck broke?’”

Caryn Smith has a special ring tone for Orso’s calls. “It’s kind of irritating, like a horn honking,” she says. “When I hear that before I’m fully dressed and ready to go, I know it’s going to be something bad. I hope not to hear that noise early in the morning.”

Although some B&S Port-O-Jons employees have been with the company more than 10 years, there always seems to be a few rookies on the crew. “Our biggest problem is having enough drivers,” she says. “That can really throw you when you have events going in five different directions. We laugh our way through a lot of things because that’s about all we can do. You laugh or you would be crying.”

Still, Smith enjoys the work and has no plans to retire.

“We try to always give good service, and we take a lot of pride in what we do. I’m too busy to retire,” she says. “We do plan to ease back a bit, but it would be several years. Unless my health gives me a problem, I’ll probably go for quite a while.”

Serving celebrity clients

Waco, Texas, is not the world’s most glamorous locale, but it has more than its share of celebrities, and those celebrities are clients of B&S Port-O-Jons.

For example, Waco is the home of Magnolia Enterprises, headed by Chip and Joanna Gaines, formerly the stars of the HGTV show Fixer Upper. B&S Port-O-Jons supplied portable restrooms to many home-remodeling projects that were the foundation of the show. They have also provided restrooms for special events hosted by the famous couple.

“When they opened up their new Magnolia Table, which is just up from us, we had toilets there until they got their bathroom situation under control and could handle their crowds,” says Caryn Smith, one of the owners of B&S Port-O-Jons.

One of the special events B&S Port-O-Jons supplied was a marathon hosted by Magnolia Enterprises in May 2018.

Another noteworthy Waco-area resident is former President George W. Bush, who has a ranch in nearby Crawford. Bush has used B&S Port-O-Jons to provide restrooms for Wounded Warrior events he hosts at the ranch.

“We did some stuff out there when he was governor, and it has grown since,” says Smith, who is a graduate of Crawford High School. It was a Wounded Warrior event that prompted B&S Port-O-Jons to start offering clients an ADA-compliant restroom trailer, she says. Later they purchased a 2015 Wells Cargo ADA-compliant restroom trailer. 

“It only has one stall, but it has all the bells and whistles of the elite restroom trailers,” Smith says.

Clayton Smith, Caryn Smith’s husband and one of the founders of B&S Port-O-Jons, says the Secret Service is always involved when there are events at the former president’s ranch.

“For any of the special events where we provide trailers at the Bush Ranch, we definitely deal with the Secret Service because they have to approve people to go on the property,” he says.


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