Small Portable Sanitation Outfit Provides One-Stop Shop at Irish Fest

Columbia Potties for the Rockies built a long and loyal relationship serving the growing needs of the Colorado Ethnic Festival.
Small Portable Sanitation Outfit Provides One-Stop Shop at Irish Fest
Owners Dennis and Sheila Nessler of Columbia Potties for the Rockies

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Columbia Potties for the Rockies is one of three lines of business Sheila and Denny Nessler own in Golden, Colo., about 30 miles west of Denver. Although they operate as a team, Sheila focuses on the portable restrooms and Denny on their septic and septage land application work operating under the names Columbia Sanitary Services and Gator Gro. The combined staff includes two administrative workers, three septic drivers, three portable restroom drivers and two semi-truck drivers who haul waste. They work out of their own recently built 2,500-square-foot building and a nearby rented storage yard.

The Nesslers, Dianne Bennett in marketing and the three portable restroom drivers – Kent Simmons, Jason Kulp and Mike Crawford – worked on the Irish Festival. Standby septic drivers were also called into service to help with deliveries.


The origins of the company go back to 1959 when founder Harvey Seipp began pumping out septic systems. In 1998 the Nesslers bought the business from the Seipp family. At the time, Denny was a diesel mechanic and Sheila was a licensed aircraft mechanic. He was eligible for retirement and she was tired of being laid off during every downturn. Having taken entrepreneurial courses during one of her layoffs Sheila thought they were ready to go out on their own. “I just felt like it was a better opportunity to own a business than to work for somebody else,” she explains. So Denny retired and worked for the business full time and Sheila did the same in 2006.

Although they were just doing septic at the time, Sheila would often drop in on portable restroom Education Day seminars at the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International. In 2003 they bought 10 units from Satellite Industries and put out another shingle. “We saw a niche market in the mountains that was being underserved so we started doing single-family residential construction,” she says. Today construction is 45 percent of their work and growing. In fact, they are currently participating in one of Denver’s largest public construction projects, the redevelopment of downtown’s Union Station and the light rail line to the airport. They’ve got 500 units in their inventory and work within a 45-mile radius.


As a member of the Colorado Festival and Events Association, an event planner and vendor group, the Nesslers learned of the event eight years ago, got acquainted with the coordinator and have been the successful bidder on it ever since.


Skirt-wearing gents didn’t garner a second glance over the July 12-14, 2013 weekend at Clement Park in Littleton, Colo. Kilts were just part of the fun at the 19th annual Colorado Irish Festival. The event featured Irish music, Gaelic sports, step dancing, lots of food and drink – and even a Sunday morning Catholic Hibernian Mass. About 20,000 enjoyed this year’s three-stage lineup of traditional and rock bands. Many festival-goers brought along their own instruments for jam sessions.

The “green” theme had a double meaning as the festival pushed for minimal environmental impact, actively encouraging attendees to take mass transit and recycle.


Public restrooms were locked during the festival. Besides providing portable restrooms and hand-wash stations, the company took on responsibility for solid waste, providing recycling bins and trash receptacles and partnering with 5280 Waste Solutions, a local waste management company, for disposal. Nessler says they are doing more and more of this type of partnering. “A lot of times people want a one-stop shop – to book their toilets and their trash together. They also want to do recycling. That’s a big thing now.” The company invested in recycling bins a few years ago sensing this was coming to the market.


The company brought in 10 of their popular pink PolyPortables Inc. Integras for women only (no urinals), 27 blue Satellite Industries Tufways, six PolyPortables wheelchair-accessible units with baby-changing facilities, 14 TSF Company Inc. hand-wash stations, three 55-gallon graywater barrels for food vendors, 20 65-gallon recycling bins and 80 plastic-lined recycled cardboard boxes from Centennial Container Inc. for trash.

Units were placed in nine locations – five banks dispersed throughout the grounds, one or two units in specialty areas (food vendors, bands, VIP) and one outside the fence along the pathway circling the adjacent lake for use by the nonattending public as there was no access to park restrooms.


The company brought in everything on Wednesday but zip-tied units until Friday. Two Ford F‑250s and two service vehicles pulled the 16-unit, 8-unit and 6-unit McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers and the 24-foot flatbed trailer designed for Columbia by McKee for their wheelchair/family units. Removal was Monday.


Units were cleaned early Saturday morning and again Sunday before the 8 a.m. church service. The company uses deodorizers from J & J Chemical Co. and Walex Products Co. and urinal cleaner and washdown from Satellite.

In all prior years the company did an additional cleaning Saturday afternoon, but unexpectedly, right before the event, the organizer decided for safety reasons to cancel that and compensate by adding a few more units. “I had to scramble,” Nessler says. “I had help coming, I had my weekend planned.” But based on the Sunday morning cleaning, she thinks the organizer made a good call. “It went okay. Some of the sinks were out of water, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.”

The team used a 2013 Ford F-550 with a Masport Inc. pump built out by Imperial Industries and a 2008 Sterling Bullet with a Conde pump outfitted by Satellite Industries, both with 650-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tanks. Waste was transferred to the company’s semi trucks for later land application.

Paper products were left on site for event volunteers who kept units stocked. And the Nesslers were on call in the event of a serious problem. “If anything goes wrong, I’ll get a call immediately,” Nessler says. “But we usually don’t have things go wrong. We try to anticipate what they need in advance.”


The company really enjoys this festival and particularly likes working with Laura Nolton, the coordinator. “Laura is really good about ordering enough equipment to where there isn’t a problem,” Nessler says. “She’s really comprehensive, which makes my job easier.”

Although they rebid every year, Nessler believes it helps that they provide good service. “Customers get used to working with you and just would like to keep that relationship going,” she says. “I don’t give them any reason to break that relationship. I really will jump through hoops for them.”


Imperial Industries, Inc. - 800/558-2945 -

J & J Chemical Co. - 800/345-3303 -

Masport, Inc. - 800/228-4510 -

McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers - 866/457-5425 -

PolyPortables, LLC - 800/241-7954 -

Satellite Industries - 800/328-3332 -

T.S.F. Company, Inc. - 800/843-9286 -

Walex Products Co., Inc. - 800/338-3155 -

Westmoor Ltd. - 800/367-0972 -


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