Dash for Cash

One of the top U.S. marathons keeps Utah’s Empire Waste hopping on race day and constantly updating its restroom inventory
Dash for Cash

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THE TEAM

Empire Waste in St. George, Utah, is a multi-generational family-operated portable restroom and roll-off container business. Leader Susan Dorius oversees the office functions and coordinates all activities. Her husband, Troy, sons Skylar and Jerry Hasen, and brother-in-law Daniel Dalton round out the team.

 

COMPANY HISTORY

Troy Dorius’ father, Allen, started the portable restroom business in April 1979 after having worked in construction. “He just saw a need for it. It was a small town at the time and nobody else (provided the service),” explains Troy Dorius, who worked for his father and took over the company when the elder Dorius died in 2009. In 1996 they added the container business, which accounts for 50 percent of their work.

The company has 600 restrooms and about 75 percent of their work is construction-related. Tucked into the southwest corner of the state, their 50-mile service radius runs mainly along the I-15 corridor from Cedar City, Utah, to Mesquite, Nev.

 

MAKING CONNECTIONS

In the early days of the St. George Marathon, when both the town and the event were much smaller, the whole community participated. Empire Waste was there from the beginning. “I remember when we were hauling 25 or 50 units,” Troy Dorius says. Recently, as the event grew, and competition came in, the city began putting vendor operations out to bid. Empire won the most recent three-year contract.

 

THE MAIN EVENT

The 34th St. George Marathon took place on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. The course started in the tiny mountain village of Central, Utah, at an altitude of 5,240 feet and it was mostly downhill from there along Utah 18 to St. George at 2,680 feet. It’s the 15th largest marathon in the U.S., considered one of the most scenic, and voted by Runner’s World magazine readers as the most organized. Some 7,400 runners from 49 states and nine foreign countries were selected by lottery out of a field of 11,000 applicants.

It’s a community-supported event, as residents volunteer to work and to cheer on the runners. The mayor of St. George sponsored a 2.2-mile citizens walk early in the day to ensure that an enthusiastic crowd would be on hand to greet the runners as they crossed the finish line in Worthen Park.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Empire brought in 335 standard and two ADA-compliant units for the marathon. They used a variety of restrooms from PolyPortables Inc., PolyJohn Enterprises Corp., and Satellite Industries Inc., in a multitude of colors, mostly tan.

Units were transported on trailers using service vehicles and 2006 and 2007 Chevy Silverados. The company designs its own carrier trailers and has a local welder build them. The six trailers carry from 2 to 16 units. Several of them allow for side loading.

 

LET’S ROLL

Before sending units out, the company lined them up in their yard to get a final count. Then they loaded them onto trailers and on Wednesday brought their first load to Central. “We do our own little marathon,” Susan Dorius says. “It’s 52 miles roundtrip.” The company made the trip six times to get everything in place by midnight Friday.

Of the inventory, 176 units were placed in Central and 24 in St. George, along with one ADA-compliant unit each. The rest were placed along the route, three to five units at each of the 14 aid stations, plus several units every few miles.

The road was closed to traffic on the day of the race, but as soon as it opened at 1 p.m., the company retraced its steps and started the process of removal, finishing up on Sunday.

 

KEEPIN’ IT CLEAN

The company spent the month before the event cleaning, repairing and stocking units. “There’s no dirt anywhere, even on the floorboard, so it looks like a brand new restroom,” Susan Dorius says. The final touch is to spray them with air freshener and add a cherry or citrus deodorizer from Toico Industries to the holding tanks.

After the event, units were pumped out using three service vehicles — 2004 and 2005 GMC C550s built by Keith Huber Inc. with 500-gallon waste/250-gallon freshwater steel tanks, and a 2001 Ford F-550 from Satellite Industries with a 300-gallon waste/250-gallon freshwater steel tank, all equipped with Masport Inc. pumps. These were followed by the two Silverados and a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which hauled them back to the yard. Waste was taken to the St. George water treatment facility.

 

KEEPING UP

The St. George Marathon is Empire’s biggest event, and each year it gets bigger. This has driven the company to evolve so as not to get left behind. “We’ve just had to grow with it,” Troy Dorius says. “We make bigger trailers all the time to accommodate it, to get our units where we need them. And we’re buying and replacing units all the time to keep up with it. Even though it’s a once-a-year event, it’s something you have to plan for throughout the year.”

The planning paid off, as everything went smoothly. And despite working feverishly for five days, the team enjoyed the experience. “It’s an exciting event for us. And it’s fun to do,” Susan Dorius says. “It gets us working together as a family. And we get to enjoy the scenery.”



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