The ability to haul more units and the increased tank capacity is a productivity game-changer
In 2014, business — and life in general — got a whole lot easier for Andy Drown, who co-owns Bear Necessities Portable Restrooms with his wife, Lauraine. That was the year Drown pulled the trigger on purchasing a new, larger steel vacuum tank (750-gallon waste/350-gallon freshwater) made by Crescent Tank Manufacturing, featuring a Masport pump.
Previously, running trucks with smaller, self-fabricated vacuum tanks and little or no cargo space to carry restrooms was running Drown ragged. The Crescent tank — which he originally installed on a 1997 Freightliner, then switched to a 2005 Peterbilt 330 — solved both problems at once with its larger capacity and its flat-top design, which enables portable restroom operators to carry restrooms atop the tank.
“That tank was a game-changer,” Drown says. “I can’t describe how ecstatic I was when we bought it. I’d wanted a Crescent tank ever since we bought the business, but we knew it would be a while before we could afford one. For the first several years, we were more concerned about getting more restrooms than we were about buying a new tank and truck.”
Drown can now carry eight restrooms at a time (six atop the tank and two on the liftgate), which is an invaluable productivity enhancer. In fact, if the truck tows a trailer, Drown can carry a total of 18 restrooms in one trip, which helps the company deliver restrooms to locations along the company’s usual cleaning routes. Before, one employee had to handle deliveries and pickups while someone else cleaned restrooms; that was inefficient and time-consuming, especially during the busy harvest season, during which the company services restrooms on sugar beet piling grounds in late summer and early fall.
“The ability to take up to 18 restrooms at one time literally changed our world,” he says. “It makes harvest time so much easier — we actually get some weekends off now.” And with the larger tank, Drown has enough capacity to pump off waste from some of his other service trucks into the Crescent tank, then make a disposal run. “That lets the other guys get to work quicker, rather than having all three trucks make disposal runs,” he explains.
The flat-top tank also carries more water than the company’s other trucks. As such, when it makes sense geographically, Drown can also meet other drivers, top off their water tanks with water from his tank, and still have enough left for cleaning restrooms. That also saves time and money, he notes. “I really believe we save two or three hours a day by being able to meet up with them, pump off their waste and top off their water tanks,” he says. “Otherwise it might take the other drivers 1 1/2 hours to make a dump run, fill up with water and get back on their route.”
Drown also saves time because he opted to have a vacuum port and a spray-down hose on each side of the truck, so the driver can work from both sides — a capability that comes in handy in certain situations, he says.
Read more about Bear Necessities Portable Restrooms in the October cover story.