Jeff Kuras Is Excited to Bring His Children Into the Wastewater Industry

A new generation at Team Kuras brings technology and enthusiasm to breathe new life into a successful, established business.

Jeff Kuras Is Excited to Bring His Children Into the Wastewater Industry

The crew and family at Team Kuras includes (from left) Dean Andrus, Derek Wieber, Beau Nystrom, Shaun Nystrom, Jeff Kuras (in hat), Ricky Chini, Suzanne Kuras, Amanda Kuras holding Willow Hart, Allyson Michael and Justin Kuras. The truck in the background is a Ford F-650 with a 2,000-gallon aluminum Bruder tank and Masport pump.

Team Kuras offers a wide range of services — pumping, excavating, jetting, septic system repairs, aeration system maintenance and portable restroom rental — to customers in Port Clinton, Ohio. But it wasn’t always that way.

For nearly 30 years, it was Jeff Kuras Excavating and that was it. All the diversification started when Jeff Kuras’ son, Justin Kuras, and later his daughter, Amanda Kuras, joined the business. Justin steered his father toward septic pumping, which led to more work doing repairs and septic system maintenance. As the office got busier, Justin talked his sister Amanda into moving back to Port Clinton from Arizona, where she had been working in a financial services office.

For a while, Amanda was helping to run the office for Jeff Kuras Excavating, Kuras Pumping and Kuras Aeration Systems, but before long, her father suggested they add portable restrooms to the mix. Soon after, the Team Kuras brand was born, bringing all the companies under one marketing umbrella. The family finds the Team Kuras name works both as a brand for customer relations and as a guiding concept for the ways they and their employees work.

“We’ve all been athletes. We’ve been brought up as team players,” says Justin, 30. “All of us working together is crucial for us to do the day-to-day stuff. I think Team Kuras was the perfect way for us to bring not only us as a company together, but also to give our employees some credit where it’s due, because they are all critical to everything we do.”


Jeff, 57, dropped out of high school at age 17 and went to a local bank to borrow money to buy an excavator. “I borrowed every dime,” he says. “Things were a little different back then.”

His assets were a dump truck that he’d bought at age 16 and some knowledge of digging equipment that he’d gained by helping his father maintain a trailer park. It was 1979 when he started. He formed Jeff Kuras Excavating in 1981. He used his bank loan to buy a used backhoe and started doing drainfield work and other odds and ends, and he soon connected with a local developer who kept him busy with residential and commercial work in and around Port Clinton.

“I never worked for any outside companies.” he says. “It was just what I wanted to do. I’m still doing it today. I love it. A lot of people hate their job. To me, it was just fun. It was like playing in the dirt as a 3-year-old, only now you’re playing in the dirt as a 40- or 50-year-old.”

Jeff continued working as an excavator, accumulating more equipment and eventually adding some help, but when Justin came to work with his father, the company started to move in a new direction. The first step was to add a vacuum truck. Jeff Kuras Excavating had been doing a lot of septic system installations, but it never had done any pumping. “I always used to sub that out,” Jeff says. “Justin noticed that we were so dependent on other people. He thought it was ridiculous.”

“We were constantly waiting on pumper trucks to come pump out a septic tank that we had to abandon,” Justin says. “I could see that there was an avenue being missed — meaning just to be a one-stop service, with the pumping, sewer jetting, all these things. They totally coexist with each other.” 

The pumping led to them getting more work repairing septic systems.

“Repair work has become big for us,” Jeff says. “People would call to get their tank pumped because they had a problem, and we ended up with a lot more work since Justin would be the first one on site and would find out there was an issue. Our jetting has become bigger; pumping tanks has become bigger. Our installs are more: We’ve been doing a lot more installs because there are failing systems.

“My son is the one who’s really done his homework on jetting and sewer line repairs and septic repairs and has found us a lot of work,” Jeff continues. “It has been phenomenal all the jobs — the replacement distribution boxes, jetting lines and septic tank replacements. We’re talking a lot of volume on repairs.”

Justin says the added services Team Kuras performs are helpful to the customers, too.

“With aeration systems, there are a lot of working parts, and the state requires them to be inspected every six months,” Justin says. “With us maintaining their system, it doesn’t matter if the sewer line is plugged or the pump is bad: Whatever it is, they only have one number to call. That’s really been tremendous.”


Team Kuras has a fleet of 14 trucks, including two dump trucks, four pickup trucks, a service van and two trucks for hauling excavating equipment.

The pumping fleet includes two Ford F-650 models each with a 2,000-gallon aluminum Bruder tank and Masport pump, as well as three Hino 145 portable restroom trucks with 700-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater aluminum Bruder tanks. Two of those trucks have pumps from National Vacuum Equipment, and one has a Battioni pump.

In addition, the company recently added a hydrovac unit, a Vac-Tron Equipment hydraulic PMD-500GT excavator trailer, that comes in handy for clean excavations of catch basins and other work.

Other excavating equipment includes Kobelco 140 and 8-MSR excavators, a John Deere 50 excavator and 450 bulldozer, Yanmar 35 excavator, New Holland TLB 575E loader backhoe and Bobcat T300 skid loader. Trailers include a Kaufman Trailers flat deck equipment trailer, two PJ 1400 equipment trailers, a Coyote gooseneck equipment trailer and 12-hauler McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers restroom trailer. They use an American Jetter enclosed trailer unit, as well as various drain cleaning machines, sewer cameras and line locators from RIDGID.

Jeff and Justin buy trucks, tanks and pumps separately and put the units together themselves. Jeff says they usually do that work in the winter, when the excavating slows down.

Team Kuras has more trucks than employees, but Justin says he is happy with the crew.

“I used to have more help, but it seemed like I spent more time hassling with employees rather than productively working,” Justin says. “This way we’ve consolidated the help, and every customer gets a very personal experience.”

In addition to Jeff, Justin and Amanda Kuras and Jeff’s wife, Suzanne Kuras, office manager, the team consists of two of Justin’s longtime friends, Ricky Chini and Derek Wieber; two cousins of Justin and Amanda, Shaun and Beau Nystrom; and Dean Andrus.

“Everybody here shows up with a smile on their face, and they want to do the very best job they can. They appreciate their jobs and the service work they are doing,” Justin says.

Team Kuras doesn’t have much turnover. The company offers health insurance and a 401(k) plan. Those may be unusual for such a small company, but Jeff says the company wanted to encourage people to stay on board for the long term. “That’s been a couple years now,” he says of the insurance and retirement plans. “We just decided that this was what was going to keep the men. We figured if we up the ante on the insurance and the retirement, they’ll be pretty happy. It’s helped a lot.”


Justin gives his sister the credit for the name Team Kuras.

“We had these three entities (excavating, septic services, portable restrooms) that we kind of wanted to group together and come up with a website,” says Amanda, 35. “When I sent out an email, I sent it out as Amanda at Team Kuras.”

That came to mind, she says, because at her previous job at a finance company, internal email groups were called teams.

Justin really liked the idea of Team Kuras and thought it should be the concept for the website.

“It just all came together very organically,” Amanda says. “It was a great way to put all three entities under one name. People would recognize the name and be able to put excavating, septic pumping and portable restrooms all together into one group. I think it’s a good representation of how we work together.”

The company uses the Team Kuras brand on billboards, a Facebook page and T-shirts. They give some of the shirts away, but they also have them for sale on a rack in the office. Jeff gets a big kick out of seeing people in the grocery store wearing Team Kuras shirts.

“Team Kuras has been a real big thing. Everybody wants to be part of it,” Jeff says. “They’ve done a very good job of marketing.”


Jeff says he’s astonished at the number of calls that come in. It’s a long way from his early days of working on a backhoe all day and coming home to an answering machine, calling people back and setting up appointments.

“We do a lot of work,” Jeff says. “We’re bigger now than I ever imagined, but small enough that you have the personal touch with people. I can’t believe how well everything has come around. I’m pretty amazed at it all.”

Restrooms must be spider-free

Amanda Kuras, who calls herself the “client concierge” for the diverse businesses of Team Kuras, is particular about cleanliness in portable restrooms. She not only wants them power-washed, but she also wants them to smell good, and they must be spider-free.

“I tell my drivers if I won’t use it, it’s not clean enough,” she says. “They make sure there are no spiderwebs or spider gunk anywhere. That’s my biggest thing. People hate to see spiderwebs hanging, and they won’t go in there.”

She’s so serious about the spiders and other bugs that she had a local shop create an environmentally friendly repellent.

“You don’t want to use chemicals; people are particular about that,” she says. “We created an essential oil mix from our local soap-maker. The boys put a little squirt in there to keep the insects away. They feel like it’s working.”

Seeking longer-lasting fragrances, last year she started using deodorants from Walex Products.

“We weren’t getting that long-lasting scent through our weekly cleanings,” she says. “Our whole point of having portable restrooms is we have the cleanest unit. We power-wash them. We try to create nice fragrances so you’re getting a clean smell when you step into our unit.”

Portable restrooms were added at Team Kuras in 2016.

“We started with 20. Then in the middle of the year, I had to order more,” Amanda says. “The following year before spring started, I already had so many orders for portable restrooms that I had to place an order. It kind of just organically grew.” The company now has 140 restrooms. Almost all of them are from Five Peaks. Last summer during the Ottawa County (Ohio) Fair, every unit was out.

“Our niche here is weekend rentals,” Amanda says. “We get a lot of weekend rentals from people who just want one or two pots to cover the influx of people they are having come to the house. We also have a great relationship with our local marinas. With two of those, we also get RV pumpouts. It’s kind of a great mix.”

While Jeff Kuras Excavating and the other businesses under the Team Kuras umbrella pretty much stay in Ottawa County, Kuras Portable Restrooms covers a little bit more territory. Jeff Kuras is pleased with the growth of the portable restroom business and says he wishes they had gotten into it earlier.

“Every year, it’s grown,” Jeff says. “This port-a-potty stuff — you could grow until it drives you insane. It just depends on how far you want to go and how many you want to buy.”


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