All Hands on Deck!

A college basketball game on an aircraft carrier – with President Obama and many other dignitaries on hand – provides a unique opportunity for Diamond Environmental to showcase its service.
All Hands on Deck!

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Owner Eric de Jong and operations manager Warren Van Dam operate Diamond Environmental Services in Southern California. Their comprehensive business provides portable restrooms, holding tanks, storage containers, pumping services, generators, temporary power, temporary fencing and emergency services.

For the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, played on Veterans Day – 11/11/11 – aboard the USS Carl Vinson, the company assigned supervisor Matt Copeland and an eight-person team of drivers and attendants to the weeklong job. Commenting on this high-profile event, which included working with the U.S. Secret Service, de Jong said:

"It was exciting to be part of this historic evening to honor current and former U.S. servicemembers. Having it play out on a basketball court on a ship dotted with our facilities made it a special way to celebrate
Veterans Day."


De Jong and Van Dam founded Diamond Environmental Services in February 1998, three months after de Jong's father, Arie, sold the family's previous business, Coast Waste Management. The pair started their own portable sanitation company with two trucks and one service route, with de Jong handling sales and Van Dam driving the route.

Within days they bought out another company and its 350 portable restrooms, four trucks and various routes. Today, between its headquarters in San Marcos, Calif., and satellite facilities at Miramar, Perris and Santa Ana, Calif., DES employs more than 150 and owns more than 10,000
portable restrooms.

The company serves most of Southern California, from Los Angeles to Palm Springs to San Diego. Its service area includes the San Diego Naval Base, home port of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, 55 Navy ships and 180
individual commands.


DES has worked many events at the Navy base the past decade, which made it a logical choice to handle the Carrier Classic. Even though Copeland and his crew had clearance to get on the base from previous jobs, they still had to pass another Navy security examination because President Obama was attending. The security card they carry on base contains a bar code, photo ID and a microchip that allows security personnel to track
their whereabouts.

To reach the Vinson, they had to pass through a security gate at the base's entrance and another gate at the head of the pier where the ship was moored. "The guards didn't let us onto the pier unless there was room for our trucks, so sometimes we had to wait around until another truck left the pier," Copeland said.


The Carrier Classic was the first of what will be an annual event in which two top college basketball teams play aboard a U.S. Navy ship. In this matchup, the North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Michigan State Spartans, 67-55, before a crowd that included President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and many military dignitaries.

The ship chosen for the inaugural game, the USS Carl Vinson, is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The Vinson was the ship that buried terrorist Osama Bin Laden at sea in May 2011.

The Carrier Classic attracted 8,111 fans, most of whom were U.S. military servicemembers. Fans sat in temporary bleachers around a court centered on the ship's 4.5-acre flight deck. The ship weighs nearly 100,000 tons and stretches 1,092 feet, the length of three football fields, including the end zones. It's home to 5,000 to 6,000 officers and enlisted sailors when flight crews are aboard.

Taxpayers did not pay for the event. Quicken Loans was the title sponsor, and advertising and private grants covered the rest.


DES provided 86 standard blue Satellite Tufway portable restrooms, 13 Satellite handicap units, 21 PolyPortables Tag Along hand-wash stations, and two 24-foot Comfort Station trailers from Advanced Containment Systems. This might not seem like enough restrooms for an event this size, but the Vinson is equipped with more than 420 bathrooms (or "heads"), many of them near the flight deck, and these facilities also were open during the event.

The Navy directed that eight standard restrooms, one handicap unit and two sinks be placed on the pier near the ship. Everything else, including the Comfort Stations, was hoisted from the pier to the ship's flight deck about 80 feet above by giant cranes, which roll up and down Navy piers on tracks. The portable units were not crane models, so the crane's rigging crews used heavy-duty straps to secure and lift the units and trailers aboard. Once on the flight deck, Copeland's team arranged the units at the Navy's direction in five horseshoe-shaped clusters with sinks in between.

Although none of the units were designated for use by the President and First Lady, all units were inspected at least once by Secret Service agents before the Obamas arrived.


The company started delivering the units about a week before the event, knowing their team would sometimes need to sit and wait for pier access and available cranes to lift the units aboard. Clay Adams was the main driver and his son, Josh, worked as an attendant, servicing, restocking and cleaning units as needed during the event. Copeland, Alex Gomez and Ricardo Carmona helped with deliveries. Bree Muniz and Bel Ybarra handled the inventory tracking and billing.

To haul the units, the team used a 2010 Kenworth T270 delivery truck with a 24-foot cargo box for materials; a 1992 International 466 20-foot flatbed, and a 1996 International 466 20-foot flatbed to pull 24-foot trailers carrying the restrooms; a 1993 International bobtail truck with a fifth-wheel hitch, and a 1994 Freightliner bobtail with a fifth-wheel hitch to haul the Comfort Station trailers.


The company kept attendants aboard the Vinson before, during and after the event to monitor the units. Their dress code required slacks and polo shirts. Afterward, the team used two vacuum trucks to pump the units once they were back on the pier. Both trucks were 2010 Kenworth T270s equipped with 900-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater steel tanks and Tuthill blowers, and were assembled by Southern California Tank and Fabricating.

When the units were on the Vinson's deck, they required occasional checks, but no pumping because they weren't used much until the event. The day after the Carrier Classic, the team helped lower the units back to the pier, pumped them out, reloaded and transported them back to the company. The removal took two days.

While on the pier, all DES team members were required to wear hardhats and steel-toed shoes. "Any time you're working around cranes on Navy piers, you must wear safety equipment," Copeland said.


Even though this was the first Carrier Classic and security was tight for President Obama, Copeland said the job was "pretty cut and dried." Since the company hired him 12 years ago as a route driver, Copeland has regularly worked on the Navy base. Likewise, most of his team had worked there too. "Other than the fact we were aboard an aircraft carrier and had to go through extra security, it wasn't a totally new experience," Copeland said. "We live for these things."


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