This guru reflects on a 50-year restroom career and predicts what the future will hold
With over 50 years of industry experience under his belt, a Q&A session with PolyJohn’s Gregg Delong was a no-brainer. From toilet technology to business advice, there’s something here for everyone.
Q: Can you describe your first job in the industry?
A: I was a yard boy, and my main responsibility was keeping toilets repaired and painted and cleaning trucks. I also helped with building new toilets for Nottingham Pacific and United Sanitation.
Q: How has the industry changed since you started?
A: Our industry has changed very little, really, except for the plethora of technology we have now. But the basics today are the same as when I started 50 years ago.
Q: How has the portable restroom changed over the last 30 years?
A: Today’s toilets may resemble the toilets of old in shape and form, but they’ve really made remarkable changes. When I started, the units were comprised of painted plywood on 4- by 6-inch skids. Each restroom weighed 400 to 500 pounds. Now we have much lighter, cleaner, stronger, more sanitary and user-friendly products.
Q: Is there one single invention that changed the course of portable sanitation?
A: I think thermal plastics are high on the list – and of course computers for the day-to-day operations of our service industry.
Q: What industry trends do you see in the future?
A: The industry is much more demanding today than it was when I started. It’s also going to keep evolving. Our job is to keep up with new demands, striving to meet the paying public’s desire for products and services that would have been unheard of decades ago. I also think the enforcement of laws that deal with the handling of waste, heated hand washing, and hot and cold showers will continue to increase.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: I’d definitely say the people that I meet in our industry are by far the best part of my job. I realized many years ago that it takes a very special person to deal with another person’s waste. I’m lucky to work with these people every day!
Q: What’s the best advice you can give to someone just getting started in the business?
A: Do your homework and ask lots of questions. Make sure to have your strategy worked out. Most importantly, allow your service and the quality of your products to sell your company. Remember that all you truly have to sell is service! That’s what it’s all about.
Q: What do people NOT understand about the portable sanitation industry? Any misconceptions?
A: People don’t understand the very need for its existence. Not only being able to use clean portable facilities, but the importance of waste disposal is essential to daily living. Imagine life without it!
Q: What’s the best porta-potty joke you’ve ever heard?
A: I don’t think I’ve ever heard one that I could or would share.
Gregg Delong is the West Area Manager for PolyJohn, the leading manufacturer of high-quality portable sanitation products.
He uses his experience and industry commitment to help his customers achieve their business goals.