With a New Truck and an Optimistic Outlook, Chad Sims Persevered Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

On-Site Sanitation enjoys a long history of pumping for friends and neighbors in central Ohio.

With a New Truck and an Optimistic Outlook, Chad Sims Persevered Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hanna Sims loosens waste in a septic tank before pumping as her father, Chad, looks on. (Photos by Amy Voigt)

When Chad Sims purchased a bigger vacuum truck in 2019, he had no idea what 2020 would be like. But the purchase proved to be a wise one for his business, On-Site Sanitation, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. As an essential business, he worked steadily through the coronavirus pandemic, and customers spending more time at home realized just how essential it is to have septic tanks pumped regularly.

There was no shortage of work and 2020 broke business records, with the company pumping more than 2.5 million gallons. Chad credits the success to family members before him who created a respected business. 

“A good work ethic is something I’ve been raised with,” he says. “When I [and wife, Trina] bought the business in 2010, it was well established, and my feeling is, if I fail now it’s on me.” That’s something he doesn’t want to do — for his sake, and for the future of the family business.


At 20, Hanna Sims hopes to one day carry on the family tradition of operating On-Site Sanitation. If she does, she will represent the fourth generation to follow the path of her great-grandfather, Floyd Taylor, who started pumping septic tanks in 1948. His son, Ed Sims, worked with him until 1965 when they quit the business to work at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company factory. When the plant closed, Ed restarted On-Site Sanitation. Now, at 77, despite health challenges, Ed can’t resist helping his son, Chad, whenever he can. 

“We are 100% exactly alike. I can remember being 14 on a job, and he was doing work on a sewer line. I turned and got a tool before he asked for it. That’s how well we worked together. I’ve been very blessed to work with my parents,” Chad says, adding that his mother, Sue Sims, did office work for the business.

Chad’s first days “on the job” started when he was in kindergarten half-days and in the truck the rest of the day. He remembers sitting on a box in the middle of the truck and shifting gears. By around 10, he was dragging hoses and doing whatever he could to help his dad. 

These days Ed rides with Chad. And Chad’s brother, Andy, a full-time factory worker, helps when he can, taking routes to pump tanks. 

Trina, a full-time teacher, helps occasionally in the office, as does their daughter Hanna when she isn’t at college. A sophomore at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, she is studying graphic design with a fine arts minor. 

“My plan is to be a graphic designer and continue to do paperwork and [someday] own the pumping business with an employee doing the pumping,” Hanna explains.

Like her dad, she spent time in the truck as a preschooler with Chad and continues to ride with him and help when she can. 

“I really enjoy getting to spend time with my dad,” she says, noting he puts in long days so riding with him is a good way to have time together.

She is also very familiar with the paperwork and enters data to give her dad more off time when he gets home after working 9-10 hour days. 

By attending Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Hanna is part of the family’s alma mater. Her parents, an aunt and two cousins graduated from the university, which is located just 4 miles from the Sims home/shop. Chad earned an associate degree in natural resources with the expectation of landscaping, but found out it didn’t suit him before turning back to the family business. 

“My parents say college is my job,” Hanna says, and though it’s nearby, she lives on campus for the full experience. She’s also worked other jobs besides the family business. For example, she served as a maintenance person for a local park.

“It taught me good work ethic,” Hanna says, as does her family and the values of the school she attends. 


Though his work days are long, Chad credits his newest truck for helping save some time as demand for his services continues to grow. He purchased a 2020 Peterbilt 348 with a 4,200-gallon aluminum Amthor International tank and NVE 4310 blower so he can pump multiple tanks before dumping at one of the two wastewater treatment plants he uses.

“What I know now with how it has helped with efficiency of running the business, I should have bought it in 2012. It’s a huge investment, but now I would not go backwards [with a smaller tank],” he says. “The vacuum blower on that truck is a whole lot better and doesn’t use oil all the time. I’m very happy with it, and it pumps faster.”

When his brother Andy is available to run a route, he drives the 2012 Peterbilt 337 with a 2,400-gallon aluminum Amthor tank and Fruitland RCF500 pump. Then, during the winter when things slow down a little, Chad prefers to drive his oldest truck, a 2003 Peterbilt 330 with a 2,400-gallon aluminum Kary-Mor tank and Fruitland RCF500 pump.

“I plan to park the big truck in the winter,” he explains. “I hate the way salt tears our trucks up.”


To save time at the end of the day in the office, Chad takes care of billing on site using a QuickBooks Mobile app on his phone. “I prefer the QuickBooks on the phone [to the desktop version],” he says. “Everything on my phone seems to be more efficient so I have less things to do, and when I get back home, my paperwork is done.”

For customer information, On-Site Sanitation uses Microsoft Access. And Google calendar works great for scheduling, Hanna adds. “I can pull up Google maps while talking to a customer and look at the property and often see where the septic lid is located,” Chad says.

On-Site Sanitation has a website that was designed for them, and Chad purchased Facebook ads for a while. He still does some telephone book advertising but is so busy he doesn’t need to advertise right now.


Chad isn’t exactly sure why the business continues to grow. Good weather in January/February 2020 kept him busier than usual. But he’d like to think that the level of service he offers is the biggest reason for growth.

“I treat every customer like I’d want my sister treated,” he says. “You show up when you say, you treat people the way you want to be treated, and they’re going to call you back. I won’t operate my business any other way.” 

That means not pushing products that customers don’t need. It means customers talk to a real person, his sister-in-law Teri Sims, during regular hours. And it means Chad’s cellphone is always on. Though his pumping schedule is Monday through Friday, he’s been out at 3 a.m. and weekends dealing with emergencies.

Sharing common interests and spending a lot of time together, Hanna has witnessed her father’s life and business ethics. 

“He’s always been open and honest and treated me as if I was more mature than I probably was,” she says. “He’s super honest how he operates the business, whether dealing with a customer or money.” 

Chad notes that he doesn’t check out what his competitors charge.

“I have prices set where I need them to support my family and pay my bills,” he says. “The only time I raise prices is when my costs for fuel or disposal go up.”

He also looks out for the welfare of customers by working with other business owners who are trustworthy — especially the owner of an excavating company.

“He runs his business the same as I do mine. We have mutual respect and work closely together,” Chad says, and he refers all repair and installation business to him. 


Instead of hurting his business, Chad says the coronavirus seems to have helped.

“People were working from home and looking at their property,” he says, and he was able to talk to them personally. “Once I can educate them, they will call in the future.”

A growing number of customers — especially those who’ve experienced backups — asked to be put on a regular schedule so they don’t have to think about remembering to call him. 

Though he pumps at least nine tanks a day, demand has grown so much that he now schedules two weeks out.

Additional work comes from a couple of inspection services that Chad is licensed for in the state of Ohio. One is a recent new state requirement for septic systems to have a permit to operate to be inspected every 10 years. Property owners pay a fee to the county and to the inspector. The coronavirus slowed that down for now. The other inspection work is for real estate transfers. 

As the business grows, Chad envisions a day when he’ll add another employee. “My problem is that I’m very particular, and that makes it hard to find the right employee. That’s why I’m dragging my feet,” he says.

Perhaps somewhere down the road Hanna, who shares his values and attention to detail, will be part of the equation, much like Chad and his father fit like hand in glove years ago. 


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.