In working the world’s largest Elvis festival, this Canadian PRO demonstrates that following a good plan beats a “Good Luck Charm” any day.
Chantler’s Environmental Services Limited is located in Hillsburgh, Ontario, Canada, 50 miles northwest of Toronto. Founder and president Stewart Chantler leads a staff of about 30 who serve portable sanitation customers as far as an hour north and as far south as Niagara Falls, 90 minutes away. The busy season is between Victoria Day (the last Monday before May 25) and Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October) with as many as 20 weddings and events scheduled on a single weekend. A smaller stream of business involves ongoing rentals for parks, work site office trailers, golf courses, garden centers and local farms.
FOLLOW THAT DREAM
Chantler’s Environmental Services was founded in 1988 by Stewart Chantler on a hunch that the construction industry was underserved by portable restroom operators. Chantler’s soon branched out to special events and other contracts. The company runs 750 portable restrooms from PolyJohn Canada, as well as restroom and shower trailers from McKee Technologies and Black Tie Products, and hand-wash equipment from PolyJohn and McKee Technologies.
The company has taken on some of Ontario’s largest events. On Sunday, July 28, 2002, Chantler’s joined forces with Nature’s Call of Concord, Ontario, to service World Youth Day at Toronto’s Downsview Park. Highlighted by a mass with Pope John Paul II, the event attracted 800,000. The team delivered 8,000 restrooms, 4,000 sinks and more than 100 wheelchair-accessible units, sourced from as far away as British Columbia and South Carolina, while vacuum service trucks and drivers were called in from a coalition of companies spanning the province.
Chantler’s and Nature’s Call teamed up the following year for a summer music event designed to boost Toronto tourism in the wake of an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The 12-hour SARSStock concert featured acts including the Rolling Stones, the Guess Who, Rush and AC/DC. It attracted a half-million concertgoers and required 3,500 restroom units.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, ELVIS PRESLEY
The Collingwood Elvis Festival is the world’s largest, dating to 1995. In 2015, the four-day event was held from Thursday, July 23, to Sunday, July 26, and drew 30,000 Elvis Presley fans and impersonators, including 100 tribute artists, dwarfing the town’s population of 20,000.
“They’ve created an Elvis vibe and hang a big hat on that,” says Jamie Cheyne, who works on sales and promotions and special events with Chantler’s and led the service team.
“Although it was our first time for the Elvis Festival, we’ve worked in Collingwood before, so it’s familiar territory.”
The event features performer competitions, concerts, vintage car parades, street dances, a nondenominational worship service (replete with Elvis tribute gospel performers), and Breakfast With the King, allowing early risers to enjoy bacon and eggs with the artists.
IT’S NOW OR NEVER
Collingwood is a 90-minute drive north of Chantler’s headquarters. On order for the event: 24 PJN3 units, four Comfort XL wheelchair-accessible units and six hand-wash stations, all from PolyJohn. The units were delivered using Explorer trailers from McKee Technologies.
“We set up with two guys on Thursday morning before the main events were scheduled to take place on Friday,” says Cheyne. Delivery took about two hours.
Half the units were destined for an open parking lot near the downtown arena with the other half located behind the main stage a few blocks away. Two downtown streets were cordoned off to public traffic, providing service trucks with easy access to all units.
“It was easy to set up and easy to service,” says Cheyne. “We prefer the restrooms to be grouped together as they were here, as opposed to placing two or three in a dozen locations. Spreading them out you often find that some are underutilized, while others are overused. In groups, people will easily find an unused unit and make the best use of the available stock.”
TWO FOR THE SHOW
For service, Chantler’s supplied two trucks, both built out by Vacutrux, featuring galvanized steel tanks and Wallenstein pumps: a 2014 Hino with a 650-gallon waste tank and two 350-gallon freshwater tanks, and a Dodge 5500 with a 350-gallon waste tank and 250-gallon and 125-gallon freshwater tanks. Deodorizers were Johnny’s Choice by Chemcorp.
The first service was scheduled for Friday afternoon at 1 p.m., with busier Saturday and Sunday services at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“We could have serviced with a single large truck,” says Cheyne. “But we decided to go in with two smaller trucks to get it done quickly, in about an hour. The city maintained a great traffic setup and it was easy for us to access the portables. We didn’t really have time to enjoy any of the events — one of us would drive while the other would service — but there was definitely a whole lot of shakin’ going on, with people from 9 to 90 dressed up in the Elvis tradition.”
The contract didn’t allow for attendant service, something Cheyne prefers on a busy site.
“Often, there are little things you could repair or replace with a two-second fix,” he says. “It’s better if a person remains on site and in communication with a point person at the event.
We prefer a more personal touch.”
While Collingwood provides a permitted sewage drop-off location, Cheyne says it was more efficient to haul the relatively small amount of waste back to Chantler’s storage facility rather than applying for special permission with the city.
ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
“We pumped out all of the units late Sunday afternoon, and delivered them back to the shop,” says Cheyne. “From there we pressure washed them and removed all of the dust and dirt. ... Even blue suede shoes leave tracks.”