Portable Restroom Operator Stands Behind New Vacuum Truck’s Dependability

Lots of chrome, a classy two-tone paint scheme and simple graphics bring understated style to the latest dependable vacuum truck in the FarWest Sanitation & Storage fleet.
Portable Restroom Operator Stands Behind New Vacuum Truck’s Dependability
Alex Rodriguez, of FarWest Sanitation and Storage, loves the look and the fuel efficiency of his newest Hino restroom service rig. (Photo courtesy of Alex Rodriguez)

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THE RIG: 2013 Hino Model 338 used for running daily portable sanitation service routes.

COMPANY: Alex Rodriguez and his wife, Lola, started FarWest Sanitation in 1994. To their surprise, this arrangement quickly developed into a thriving Northern California business enterprise. The company specializes in providing portable sanitation for industry, construction and special events. They employ 27 field technicians and several  office and administrative personnel. They carry thousands of portable restrooms and run 27 vacuum trucks.

BEHIND THE WHEEL: Technicians Ignacio Barriento and Aaron Lantrip are the regular drivers.

SPECS: The truck was built out by TankTec with an aluminum 1,500-gallon waste/500-gallon freshwater tank and Masport HXL4 165 cfm pump. The route runner is powered by turbocharged, intercooled J08E VB diesel engine producing 260 hp. It has a six-speed Allison automatic transmission, Dana Spicer driveshaft and Meritor axles. Features include a dual restroom carrier and aluminum wheels. The cab provides high visibility, comfort and low noise levels.

Rodriguez has gone with an understated look to his truck paint and graphics. They feature a two-tone paint scheme with silver metallic and the company’s custom dark gray. In addition to an abundance of chrome, the rigs are kept impeccably clean. “I think these trucks are flashy enough without having to splash photos and bright colors all over them,’’ he says. “All of our vehicles have the same look. We’ve been around long enough now that people recognize our rigs.’’ The bold FarWest logo and a phone number are emblazoned on the chrome tank. The logo appears again on the truck doors along with accent pinstriping.

WORKIN’ FOR A LIVIN’: In the busy summer season, April through October, each rig services 55-60 restrooms daily. Some routes can run hundreds of miles in a day, making Rodriguez thankful for the fuel efficiency of two Hino units. “These trucks will save an average of 6 to 7 gallons of diesel fuel a day, which adds up to more than 40 gallons in a week,” says Rodriguez. “That’s very significant to our bottom line.”

ROLLING THE ODOMETER: 30,000 to 35,000 miles per year.

WHAT I LIKE MOST ABOUT MY TRUCK: In short, Rodriguez is excited for the potential durability and efficiency the Hino trucks offer. “I have a good friend in a different industry who’s been running Hino trucks for years, and every year he’s asked me when I was going to get them,” says Rodriguez. “We finally got them, and I haven’t been disappointed. They are very durable.’’ Rodriguez also likes the maneuverability in addition to the fuel economy. “We are even running biofuel in one of our rigs,” says Rodriguez. “To me, that’s exciting.”

CREATURE COMFORTS: The cab is driver-friendly, with air conditioning and a CD player. The truck also sports air-ride seats, cruise control, power windows and a tilt-wheel. “The Hino has a very smooth ride, and there’s plenty of room in the cab for two people,” says Rodriguez. “My techs are very happy with them, and if my guys are happy, I’m happy.”

WHY HINO?: When Rodriguez started FarWest, he ran Ford trucks, then switched to GMC, then International. He saw improvement in maintenance costs with each vehicle. But all have paled in comparison to the Hino, he says. “Yes, there is more on an upfront cost with the Hino, but in my opinion it’s worth it,” he says. “I don’t pull any punches in buying equipment. When you buy cheap, you end up paying in the end. Our old service trucks would fall apart in a couple years. After awhile, it was just too many trips to the mechanic.”

PAMPERING MY RIG: Rodriguez requires drivers to inspect their vehicles before beginning daily routes and at several times throughout the day. Employees receive incentives for keeping their rigs clean. “I believe that what you present on the road reflects how you run your business,” he says. “We want to present equipment that is new, innovative and clean. All the products we provide are top-of-the-line.”

MY BACKUP SERVICE VEHICLE: Rodriguez has hung onto a couple of his old International service vehicles, but is in the process of changing them out for Hino trucks, too. “It’ll take us a couple more years, but eventually our whole fleet will be Hino trucks,” he says. “By then, our first couple rigs will be our backups.”

WHEN I’M NOT IN THE CAB: While he rarely drives routes anymore, Rodriguez handles much of the day-to-day administrative work at FarWest. He enjoys staying busy when not at the office, especially enjoying playing golf with his grandson at some of the hundreds of northern California courses close to his home. Rodriguez, 64, is inching toward retirement, and has taken the initial steps to hand the business down to his daughter and son-in-law, Carmen and Aaron Lantrip. “I’m slowly starting to let go, but I still enjoy it, too. I’m still excited coming to work every day, and as long as I have that, I’ll keep doing it.”


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