Portable Restroom Operator Takes on Lucrative Country Music Jamboree

At the Oregon Jamboree music festival, the crew at Buck’s Sanitary Service provides service that sings.
Portable Restroom Operator Takes on Lucrative Country Music Jamboree
Milah Weld helps out her father’s crew, keeping restrooms and hand-wash stations stocked with soap and paper products at the Oregon Jamboree, including these Wave sinks from Satellite Industries.

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The team

Lisa and Scott Weld, owners of Buck's Sanitary Service in Eugene, Ore., have a staff of 10 — an office worker, yard worker, part-time mechanic and seven drivers. Lisa works in the office answering phones and managing the creative and marketing side while Scott fills in on everything from management to running routes to maintenance. Five people worked on the Oregon Jamboree along with the Welds and their three children, Maren, 9; Milah, 13; and Sten, 17; who are accustomed to helping out at events.

Company history

In April 2012, Lisa and Scott Weld bought Buck's — for the second time. Their first crack at it was in 1995 when Scott's father heard the 20­-year-old business was having problems. The family made an offer to the founder and operated it for four years as an add-on to their trash and septic service business. In 1999, when Weld's father retired, they sold it to a national solid waste company. Weld went to work for that company, then 10 years later tried his hand again at self-employment in the trash business. A few challenges cropped up, but they turned out to be fortuitous, says Lisa Weld.

"The very day we found out we'd have to move our shop, somebody came through the door and said, 'Do you want to buy Buck's back?' It was really a door closing, door opening, all in the same day." They quickly jumped at the chance.

Today their business is exclusively portable restrooms, serving the 100-mile-wide Willamette Valley. They've got about 1,500 Satellite Industries units — gray Tufways and Maxims (and a few white ones for weddings, and green units for their University of Oregon tailgating; "quack shacks," they call them after the Oregon Ducks mascot), several ADA-compliant Freedoms and wheelchair-accessible Liberties — an Ameri-Can Engineering Crowd Pleaser restroom trailer, and two smaller Comfort Station trailers from Advanced Containment Systems, Inc. About 50 percent of their work is special events, including, in 2012, the U.S. Olympic track-and-field trials.

Making connections

The Welds live in Sweet Home so they've always had the hometown advantage for the Jamboree and Buck's has done it since its beginning in 1996. They feel confident they'll retain the work as long as they provide good service and a reasonable price.

The main event

In the early '90s, when Sweet Home came up with an idea to help fund civic projects, this little town asked a big star to perform at their first country music festival. Surprisingly, Wynonna Judd said yes and the festival has attracted top talent ever since. In 2012, the 9,000 residents welcomed 40,000 visitors August 3-5, most of whom camped out. Judd was back to help celebrate the Jamboree's 20th anniversary, along with Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, the Charlie Daniels Band, and enough performers for 22 shows on two stages. Other attractions included beer and wine gardens, merchandise booths and a kids' zone. The event is held in a no-facilities, 20-acre park-like setting near the edge of the picturesque town.

By the numbers

The company brought in 265 units (20 Maxims, 10 Freedoms, 20 Liberties, one Standing Room Only urinal unit, and the balance Tufways), three restroom trailers, and 73 hand-wash stations (half Satellite Industries Waves from the company's inventory, the rest PolyPortables, Inc. Tag Alongs rented from a colleague).

Some 115 units, including five handicap-accessible, were set up at the main venue — a few at bus stops, the hospitality center, and parking lots, but the bulk in large banks, along with six to eight hand-wash stations, were placed at the four corners of the facility. The crew placed the ACSI trailers near the stage for the performers and the Ameri-Can Engineering trailer in the food court/beer garden, along with the urinal unit.

Thirty units and six hand-wash stations were arranged in two banks at a smaller, adjacent venue. The rest of the inventory was taken to 23 campgrounds. Thirteen units were rented to individual campsites.

Let's roll

Eight times, Sunday through Wednesday, a caravan of three trailers made the hour-long drive up Interstate 5 from the company's yard to the Jamboree site to deliver units. Two of their 15-year-old company-built trailers held 16 units each and a third trailer carried 20 (also company-built, using an Explorer receiver from McKee Technologies, Inc.). The company used service vehicles to pull the trailers.

Weld tried a new approach for the removal process. Sunday night and continuing Monday, the team pumped and moved all units to a single staging area, which he felt simplified the job. "It's easier to send a driver to pick up toilets if they're all in one spot," he explains. "I probably spent a little bit extra labor, but at least you don't have to send somebody with a map to go to this campground, get these six, go to another campground, get these eight. Then you start leaving sinks behind and the (handicap unit) doesn't fit. It's just a logistics nightmare trying to get the loads to work out." During the week, they grabbed units as schedules permitted.

Keepin' it clean

Jamboree organizers required someone be on site and available by radio at all times so Weld, his son and another member of the team stayed in a motor home at one of the  campgrounds.

Venue units were serviced each night from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. At 6:30 a.m. they started in on the campground units, finishing around 9:30 a.m. During the day, they pumped out 20 RVs and 19 holding tanks — 10 at the two shower facilities and the balance for the food vendors.

Five service vehicles were used: A 2010 Peterbilt 335 and a 2008 International 4300, both built out by Progress Vactruck with 1,500-gallon waste/500-gallon freshwater aluminum tanks; a 2001 Isuzu FTR from Workmate/FMI Truck Sales & Service with an 850-gallon waste/350-gallon freshwater steel tank; and two 2000 International 4700s built out by Lely Manufacturing Inc. with 750-gallon waste/350-gallon freshwater steel tanks. All have Masport pumps.

Waste was transported to the company's yard each night and transferred to a 20,000-gallon tank. From there, another pumping contractor picked up the waste and disposed of it by land application.

Same but different

In one sense, Weld was an old pro at this event, so it was "pretty much business as usual," he says. On the other hand, the size and scope had changed significantly over the years — their first year, they brought in 60 units for one venue and four campgrounds. "That was the most difficult thing for me," he says. "So I had to get my act together." He quickly got his arms around it. "You've got to just scratch your head and kick it in gear and go. We didn't stop moving all weekend."


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