Pumper Rewind: Winning Service Helps Pumping Company Secure Largest Special Event

A New Mexico-based septic pumping and portable restroom company marks 10 years with its largest special events job.
Pumper Rewind: Winning Service Helps Pumping Company Secure Largest Special Event
AAA places various luxury restroom trailers from NuConcepts, JAG Mobile and Advanced Containment Systems Inc. at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

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We celebrate the continued dedication and hard work of septic service contractors by revisiting companies profiled 10 years ago in Pumper magazine. Check out the original story on AAA Pumping we featured in the February 2004 issue: “Up, Up and Away.”

When we featured AAA Pumping a decade ago, things were soaring. The Albuquerque, N.M., company had just finished servicing its first Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta — continued winning service helped them win the contract for the next two years. 

Today, AAA just completed 10 years with the Fiesta, its largest special events job, where it provides 400 portable restrooms and services about 1,000 RVs. Owner Mike Krepfl and his 16 staff members — along with additional staff hired just for the event — work the event every October, the first Saturday through the second Sunday. 

“Initially, we approached the festival in 2003,” Krepfl says. “They were using an out-of-state company because there was nobody here who was large enough, but we met with them and made the investment.” 

Now it’s a beautiful — with colorful balloons overhead — and busy week for AAA. “Obviously we have to get our other work covered, which is the challenge,” Krepfl says, who became the sole owner of the business, after his brother, Phil, left the business in 2013, to pursue other opportunities. 

Portable sanitation make up about 60 percent of AAA’s business with 1,600 portable restrooms from Satellite Industries and PolyPortables and 10 luxury restroom trailers from NuConcepts, JAG Mobile and Advanced Containment Systems Inc.; other pumping services are the remaining 40 percent. The company also does swift business in processing and selling brown grease, used for biodiesel and cattle feed. 

Krepfl is excited about the challenge, even though, as he admits, “You’re the only one to handle the stress and responsibility.” 

Still, forging ahead in the business, which was started in the 1950s (as a septic company only) by Krepfl’s grandfather, Carl, is a thrilling proposition, even on his own. “For me, I like the fact that we’re building something, and seeing the growth. 

“It’s a pretty stable industry for us. It’s been a solid business for me in terms of the stability and good customer base.” 

Acquisition adds units

Just before the recession hit most businesses, AAA purchased a Waste Management company in 2007, acquiring an additional 800 restrooms, which they sold, and updated customers with newer PolyPortables and Satellite Industries units. 

“They were one of the four restroom companies in town,” Krepfl says. “We had been in growth mode, and we wanted to try some growth by acquisition. The market was a bit saturated with companies.” 

That acquisition added an additional 20 percent market share for AAA, which serves a 50-mile radius in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. 

It also helped the company diversify, which has fared well for them, especially since the recession. Lots of other companies, Krepfl notes, closed if they only offered portable restrooms. In fact, AAA saw a 30 percent drop in restroom rentals, mainly because of a decrease in construction.

But having septic pumping and the grease trap business, which are not construction dependent, helped them stay solvent. “It has helped to be diversified,” Krepfl says. “And we were in a good position with our debt.” 

Right on track

The company has been on track from bouncing back after the recession. In fact, Krepfl says revenue has been up pretty consistently over the past decade. “It’s coming back slowly. It’s not where it was pre-recession,” he admits, but it is gradually improving. 

“Right now, we’re looking for new ways to become more efficient,” he says. AAA uses RouteOptix routing software, in addition to GPS to streamline routes. 

That efficiency has also amounted to a savings in fuel costs. “If you’re routing stuff properly, you can help minimize costs,” Krepfl says. That, in addition to having a fluctuating fuel surcharge has helped AAA stay profitable. 

AAA has also increased its fleet over the past 10 years. For portable restroom service trucks, it has two International 4300s and two Freightliner M2s, all with 1,100-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater carbon steel split tanks built by Glendale Welding. It also has three Freightliner M2 trucks for the septic tank and grease trap pumping. All include 1,100-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater stainless steel split tanks built by Best Enterprises and Moro pumps.  

For septage, grease and sand hauling, AAA uses a 2005 Isuzu NPR with 500-gallon aluminum tank by Best Enterprises, two Freightliner M2s each with 2,500-gallon carbon steel tanks built by Imperial Industries, three Freightliner FL112s with 3,600-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater carbon steel tanks by Transway Systems, and a 2013 Western Star truck with 3,600-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater carbon steel tank by Southwest Products. 

Having a larger fleet means AAA can pay more attention to maintenance and regulations. “Two of the big things I’ve seen in the last 10 years have been the results of the introduction of the new emissions requirements on these diesel trucks,” Krepfl says. “It’s made the diesel trucks more expensive and unreliable. We saw increased maintenance and downtime on trucks.” 

In the past decade, AAA also faced issues with disposal, especially increased costs of disposal for grease from grease traps. 

“You have to have the processing plants and then you have a wastewater product that you can haul off,” Krepfl says, noting that state permits are required to process and dump the brown grease. 

AAA Pumping has weathered the recession decade and has managed to stay afloat — much like those balloons at the ever-popular Balloon Fiesta. Krepfl boils down his continued success to two words: absolute service. 

“We make sure our equipment is in very good condition, put new units out each year, and service is key,” he says. “You’ve got to have the manpower, and you’ve got to meet those deadlines.”


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