Fine-tuned Logistics Allow Canadian Portable Toilet Company to Enjoy and Supply Folk Festival

Bio-Liquid Waste Disposal provides more than a decade of solid service for a folk music festival in a remote Canadian fishing village.
Fine-tuned Logistics Allow Canadian Portable Toilet Company to Enjoy and Supply Folk Festival
Setting up at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival, the service team pauses for a photo. From left are Estelle and Francis Overmars, Maureen and Mark Overmars, Ashley Tozer and Andy Ledrew. (Photos by Warren Robertson)

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THE TEAM

Bio-Liquid Waste Disposal is located in the small town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Can., about 100 miles northeast of Halifax. The business is headed up by owner Francis Overmars. His 28-year-old son Mark joined the business in summer 2013. Three additional employees include Bailey Hayne, who works the office, and Troy Miles and Andy LeDrew, who perform field duty.

COMPANY HISTORY

The company was established in 1987, a new endeavor branching off from the family business of raising dairy heifers. It began by pumping residential septic tanks and started offering portable restrooms in 1992. It now offers a number of services to the community, including portable restroom rentals and service, septic tank pumping and service, and excavation work.

EQUIPMENT CORNER

The company offers 150 portable restrooms from PolyJohn Canada, including four white wedding units and a wedding trailer from Wells Cargo. The company fleet, all built out by Vacutrux Limited, includes two trucks regularly used for portable restroom service. The first is a 2008 Sterling Bullet with a three-compartment steel tank – a 720-gallon waste compartment in the middle and two 150-gallon freshwater compartments, one in front and one in back – with a Wallenstein pump. The second is a 2009 Chevy Silverado pickup with a slide-in 300-gallon waste/150-gallon freshwater steel tank and a Wallenstein pump. However, for this event, the company brings two additional trucks regularly used for septic service. One is a 1999 Sterling featuring a 4,000-gallon steel tank, 120-gallon freshwater polyethylene tank and Fruitland Manufacturing pump. The second is a 2006 Peterbilt with a 2,500-gallon steel tank and Wallenstein pump. Portable restrooms are transported on a 12-unit McKee Technologies trailer, as well as six- and 10-unit trailers, built in-house.

THE MAIN EVENT

The 2013 Stan Rogers Folk Festival is an international music event honoring the life of Canadian songwriter Stan Rogers, who died in an airplane fire in 1983. The three-day event has been held in Canso, Nova Scotia, on the first week of July since 1997. The fishing town of 800 faces an influx of 10,000 music lovers for the weekend. The event attracts top talent; the 2013 headliner was bluegrass performer Ricky Skaggs. For 2013, the festival added a fourth day of events on Thursday, running from July 4th to the 7th.

“The community was hard hit by the collapse of the Maritime fishing industry,” says Overmars. “The folk festival is part of its effort to diversify its economy. Stan Rogers was originally from Ontario, but he had a real love for the East Coast and understood surviving tough times here.”

Overmars has had the contract for the festival since 2001.

LOGISTICS

Canso is quite a haul for the technicians of Bio-Liquid Waste Disposal – the drive of 70 miles southeast takes about 90 minutes. The contract requires delivery of 80 PolyJohn restroom units incorporating hand sanitizers, as well as eight stand-alone PolyPortables hand-wash units to the remote location and Overmars plans delivery of the units days ahead of the event, taking advantage of any work near Canso prior to the festival.

“There’s one road into town and one road out, so if you’re on the road to Canso, it isn’t because you’re on the way to somewhere else,” he says. “We don’t want to deliver 80 units all at once, so we combine the delivery with our regular business as much as possible.”

Overmars rents a house in Canso during the festival for his family and the employees to remove the commute and reduce the stress of serving a major event. They enjoy the event as well as work at it.

RESTROOM PLACEMENT

The town has few hotel spaces so most attendees rent spaces in residents’ homes, camp out or use trailers for the duration of the event. About 55 of the portable restrooms are placed close to the event activities. The festival organizer designates another 25 to be placed throughout town where tourists will stay. Some restrooms are placed on the premises of the local marina, for example, while others are placed in groups of four to six on temporary campgrounds provided by the festival.

Canso’s weather can be unpredictable and subject to rains and stiff ocean breezes. Overmars ensures restroom units are placed in secure, sheltered locations as much as possible. Workers add extra water to the units exposed to wind as ballast.

LET’S ROLL

During the event, restrooms are serviced twice a day, at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. to take advantage of daylight hours and thinner crowds. For this event, Overmars utilizes dry packet deodorizers from PolyPortables because they are convenient to transport and handle.

“We want to minimize any driving back to Antigonish, so we empty the trucks into the 1999 Sterling septic pumper,” says Overmars. “That typically means that we only need to make one trip back to Antigonish during the event, usually on Sunday morning.”

The large tank is then emptied at the company’s sewage lagoon in Antigonish.

“Careful planning allows us to enjoy the weekend,” says Overmars. “Getting the restroom units there is actually more stressful than servicing them.”

At the close of the festival, the restrooms are pumped one final time and begin the return trip to Antigonish where they’re serviced.

TURNAROUND SERVICE

Within a few days, all of the units are back at home base and being prepared for the next slate of events. The Antigonish Highland Games, requiring 40 units, was held the following weekend. The weekend after that featured two simultaneous events requiring all portable restrooms to be put into play: a NASCAR race at the James River Speedway in Antigonish, and the Evolve rock festival held outside Antigonish.

“We’re stretched a lot thinner and the trucks are constantly moving in and out of the action, so it requires more attention to logistics,” says Overmars. “It’s also a much younger crowd at Evolve – they aren’t quite as relaxed as the folk music fans.”



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