​A Pumping Legacy: Carrying on a Family Tradition of Success

Brown Septic, founded in 1995 and originally profiled by Pumper in 2008, passes on to a new generation

​A Pumping Legacy: Carrying on a Family Tradition of Success

Keith Brown (left) and his father, Leonard Brown, preparing Satellite Industries restrooms back in 2008. (Photo by George Casias)

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First profiled by Pumper magazine in November of 2008, Brown Septic in Del Norte, Colorado, has nearly doubled its staff and increased business by 50 percent in the last decade.

New owner Keith Brown, son of founders Leonard and Cindi Brown, is determined to continue that trajectory of steady growth.

Keith Brown and his wife, Kayla, took the helm of the family company in March 2017, after about a year of planning. Instead of buying outright, they set up a payment plan over time.

Keeping it in the family

Before Leonard Brown’s semiretirement, he ran the pumping arm of this business while Keith Brown managed the portable restroom rental end. In addition, Keith Brown’s brother, Russell, ran the service side, until he left to start his own business shortly before Keith Brown took over.

The Browns prefer to work with family when possible, which is one of the reasons Keith Brown brought in his cousin, Tim Shirley, to pick up some of the slack left in Russell’s absence. Shirley had worked for Brown Septic before and now manages the service section.

“It’s kind of exciting for me because I want to see how many generations it can go,” Leonard Brown says. “I heard a rumor that I’ve got a granddaughter with her eye on it now.”

Steady growth

The Browns have kept surprisingly consistent over the last decade, maintaining all of their original services and steadily expanding them.

“It’s just steady growth. We haven’t made any huge, drastic changes to the business. We are fortunate; my parents worked for a lot of years to get this thing set up,” Keith Brown says. “When we took it over, there wasn’t a lot of debt, we had good working equipment where we’re not constantly having to replace things. Everything we have works the way it should.”

They also continue to grow through a strong presence in the agriculture sector, supplying restrooms and hand-wash stations to potato and lettuce farms in Colorado.

“We feel like as long as we keep working it, doing good work and providing good service, that it’s going to continue to grow because that’s just kind of the business model that was already set up, and that’s what’s worked,” Keith Brown says.

He says he started learning to manage the business from a young age, learning the ins and outs and putting him in a good position to take over one day.

“My parents would have me answering phones and doing billing and things like that,” he says. “I was just learning little things along the way, and then it just organically happened.”

Their business success is reflected in their equipment fleet. Since 2008, the company has more than doubled its portable restroom stock from 200 to more than 500 units from Satellite Industries and PolyPortables, a division of Satellite, and it now runs two 2006 pumper trucks from Imperial Industries equipped with National Vacuum Equipment and Masport pumps. Brown Septic also has an International 4600 restroom service truck.

There's pride in hard work

Despite having transitioned out of a leadership role with Brown Septic, Leonard Brown still helps out on the pumping side when needed, which, Keith Brown says, “is actually quite a bit.” Cindi Brown also continues to help out in the office, though Kayla has taken over management. In addition to supporting roles with Brown Septic, Leonard Brown also recently purchased a small fleet of roll-off trucks and boxes, as well as an RV park.

“Now we’re trying to build that,” Leonard Brown says. Of his apparent inability to sit back and enjoy retirement, he continues: “I enjoy working. If I’m busy, I’m happy.”

Regardless of what comes next for the Brown family, they can rest easy knowing that their business is moving forward thanks to the strong foundations they have built.



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