Torrential Downpours No Match for Washington Portable Restroom Operator

Torrential downpours marred a popular lumberjack festival, but Randy-Kan adapted to help flooded organizers make the most of a bad situation.
Torrential Downpours No Match for Washington Portable Restroom Operator
The Randy-Kan team at Old Mill Days included, left to right, Karrie Henricksen, Randy Bauer and Jake Schrader. Their 2004 GMC service truck from Abernethy Welding & Repair is shown in the background. (Photos by Mark Mulligan)

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THE TEAM

The Kitsap Peninsula across Puget Sound from Seattle is the service territory for Randy-Kan Portable Restrooms. Randy Bauer and Karrie Henricksen operate the business from their home in Kingston, Wash., and their storage yard in Poulsbo, Wash. They have one full-time employee, Jake Schrader. And Randy’s son, Chase, 15, often pitches in as well. Bauer works in the field, while Henricksen takes care of the office, does the marketing and works with the bookkeeper and accountant.

COMPANY HISTORY

At one time, Bauer owned a septic service business. But about 14 years ago he noticed a large out-of-town firm was buying up all the local portable restroom companies. “I thought, that’s not right,” he says. “There’s got to be a local guy.” That guy turned out to be him. He purchased 25 Global units (Satellite Industries) and an Erickson Tank & Pump slide-in unit and gradually eased out of the septic business. Today they’ve got about 300 Satellite and PolyPortables units.

About 40 percent of their work on the 400-square-mile peninsula is for special events. They do work for local festivals, biking and running competitions, weddings, the parks departments and nearby cities. In 2013 they served the county fair for the first time, one of their biggest and most successful events to date.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

The company has been servicing Old Mill Days since its inception eight years ago. Bauer says it was a chance meeting that got him the job. “I just happened to meet John Miller, the gentleman who runs it. He had seen some of our units at other events.” By then Bauer had a seven-year history behind him and a reputation in the community. “Everybody says we have the cleanest restrooms they’ve ever been in. I love hearing that – that puts a smile on my face,” he says.

THE MAIN EVENT

Old Mill Days is an annual festival celebrating Port Gamble’s roots in the timber industry. In 2013 the event took place Sept. 27-29 – the same weekend as an unrelenting, record-breaking rainstorm, necessitating quite a few changes in the lineup of activities. The classic car show, the Saturday night band performance and most of the logging competitions (log roll, axe throw, pole climbing) were canceled. The kids’ carnival ran Friday evening and Saturday morning for a few hours before giving up.

But many vendors stuck it out and so did tough lumberjack-artists who went on with their planned chainsaw carvings – everything from delicate ice sculptures to massive works of art cut from logs. This is always one of the highlights of the event and a few thousand hearty souls donned their raincoats and enjoyed watching the action. Promoters generously waived the admission fee. “They just thought it wouldn’t be fair,” Bauer says.

BY THE NUMBERS

The company supplied 16 light gray Global units, two Liberty wheelchair-accessible units and an ADA-compliant unit. All the company’s units have hand sanitizer – which they do not charge extra for. “It goes along with our tagline. ‘Be wise, sanitize.’ We want people to know we’re serious about their safety,” Henricksen says.

In addition they brought in four PolyPortables Tag Along and two PolyJohn Enterprises Applause hand-wash stations and two complimentary PolyJohn MiniSan hand sanitizer stands. Units were placed in eight locations around the site.

LET’S ROLL

The company dropped units off Thursday using a Liquid Waste Industries (LWI) Inc. 10-unit transport trailer. They also made good use of the newest addition to their tool chest, a Deal Associates Super Mongo Mover which they’d gotten only the week before. It proved itself immediately because removing units was considerably more difficult than setup. By Monday field conditions were so bad Bauer was concerned his vehicles would get stuck. So units were brought to the service vehicles using the Mongo Mover and the event promoter’s ATV with an attached small trailer.

KEEPIN’ IT CLEAN

Units were pumped and cleaned Saturday morning around 6 a.m. by Bauer and Schrader using a 2004 GMC 4500 outfitted with an Abernethy Welding & Repair Inc. 700-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tank and a Masport Inc. pump and a 2009 Ford F-550 outfitted by Satellite Industries with a 500-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tank and a Conde pump (Westmoor Ltd.).

A second servicing was scheduled for early Sunday morning but since usage was way down Bauer just hosed them down and restocked them. “We were able to limit our service to help the promoter out a little bit,” he says. “Even though we did it as a set price, we gave him a break because we knew he was not going to do very well for the weekend.” The real cleaning came after the event when it took a full day to remove the mud, grass and sawdust from the units.

The company uses eco-friendly products from PolyPortables. Henricksen is fanatical about using environmentally safe products. “Because we do schools and parks, I want to make sure that if someone tipped over a unit it wouldn’t hurt an animal or a child or harm the environment,” she says.

Henricksen also sees to it that the crew has proper work gear, including gloves, glasses and company shirts. Because of the rainy climate, a critical element of their uniform is Gage rain gear from Grundéns USA Ltd., a product Randy-Kan helped test-market. “Without it, their job would be heinous in the weather,” she says.

The company has worked out a disposal arrangement with a nearby septic and grease trap pumper. They keep two 1,200-gallon holding tanks at his yard and he takes the waste to a treatment plant.

COME RAIN OR SHINE

Organizers and vendors put a lot of work into planning Old Mill Days and were disappointed by the turn of events, but everyone made the best of it and hopes to be back next year. Bauer says Miller treats his vendors well and he wants to do the same in return. “You need to work with your promoters to be fair with them,” he says. “That’s my big deal – I want to be fair with everybody.”

Although working conditions were tough, Bauer and Schrader did what they had to do. “There were still a lot of people using the restrooms so we still had to work hard and do our thing,” Bauer says. “Randy-Kan marched on.”



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