Tap Into Your Local County Fair For Profits

Pennsylvania’s Pottie Time has placed restrooms at the Clearfield County Fair three years running. Here’s how they provide blue-ribbon service.
Tap Into Your Local County Fair For Profits
The Pottie Time crew includes, from left, Jeff Gearhart, Ken Sarvis, Tyler Lidgett, Sandy and Dave Hess, Scott and Sherry Hess, Zak Kopchik, and Chuck Taylor. They are shown in the company yard with service trucks that carry tanks from Lely Tank & Waste Solutions and Robinson Vacuum Tanks, as well as Jurop/Chandler pumps. (Photos by James Robinson)

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THE TEAM

Scott Hess and his father, Dave, own Pottie Time LLC, a portable restroom and septic service business they operate from the family’s homestead in Grampian, Pennsylvania. Hess gets most of his help from family members – his mother, Sandy, answers phones and delivers septic products, wife Sherry and stepdaughter Justine Yearick do the office work, and brother-in-law Chuck Taylor handles portable restrooms. Septic plumber Zak Kopchik and technician Ken Sarvis are also part of the team, and Hess’ dad does most of the septic work. Hess made sure everyone got a chance to work on the Clearfield County Fair at some point, not only because he needed a lot of help, but also so his guys could enjoy the event.

COMPANY HISTORY

It took Hess two starts before he found a business arrangement that worked for him. He called his first company Sweet Pea, which he started when he bought a local septic company in 1998 after having worked a couple years as a plumber. Hess got out of that business, went back into plumbing, but then started Pottie Time with his father five years later.

He started by buying units at the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo (now the WWETT Show) and then found a vacuum truck in Pumper magazine. The company serves a 60-mile radius around Grampian. About 40 percent of their work is portable sanitation. Hess avoids construction work. “I specialize in special events, parties and weddings,” he says. “It keeps your toilets in better shape and I don’t have to pump in the winter.” Their inventory stands at about 90 units.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

This is the third year the company has served the Clearfield County Fair. “When we got back in the business, they found out and gave me a call,” he says. He did have to bid on it that first year but not since.

THE MAIN EVENT

In 2015 the Clearfield County Fair celebrated its 155th year. Attendance was estimated at 100,000 during the first week of August. The fair began with a free day Sunday and a kickoff parade on Monday, then continued throughout the week with numerous activities. A large part of the fair involves 4-H activities, horse shows, animal competitions, as well as craft and agriculture displays and judged events, but fairgoers also enjoyed a carnival, midway and petting zoo, lots of food and a variety of music.

BY THE NUMBERS

Attendance has fluctuated over the years, so it has been a challenge to figure out the right number of units needed. In 2014 the company provided about the same number as the previous year, but a couple of factors resulted in severely overused restrooms during Friday night’s musical entertainment. First, a beer wagon was brought in and, second, headliner Florida-Georgia Line was considerably more popular than they were when fair organizers contracted with them a year earlier. Units were full by the end of the evening.

To avoid a similar situation in 2015, the company brought in a few extra units, but as it turned out the headliner act canceled at the last minute. A replacement was brought in and the beer wagon was there, but concert attendance numbers were modest.

The company brought in 28 Five Peaks Aspen units and three PolyPortables ADA-compliant units. Hess likes to match colors to his events when possible – white for weddings; red, white and blue for holiday events; and gray for everything else. For the fair he brought in a little of everything but had a design in mind – red, white and blue units were set up in back-to-back, gender-specific pairs, and banks of units were set up with alternating gray and white.

For the petting zoo, the company provided one PolyPortables double-sink hand-wash unit and two company-built hand-sanitizer spray stands.

A week before the fair, the company brought in two Yamaha G4 golf carts – modified with a built-in wooden box in the back – for use by the maintenance crew. A third cart was used by fair personnel during the event to shuttle performers around.

LET’S ROLL

The company used a 2014 Ford F-150 pickup and one of its service vehicles along with two Mustang hauling trailers (one holding eight units, the other 12) from Stone & Company to deliver units to the fairgrounds about 10 miles away. Half the equipment was brought in the day before the fair opened, the other half on Tuesday as attendance started to ramp up. Two units were provided specifically for Monday’s parade and were removed afterward and taken to private residences for fair-related parties. Everything was removed the day after the fair.

Units were placed around the fairgrounds in areas not serviced by permanent restrooms – two at each of the three entrances; two at each animal barn, primarily for use by the kids who stayed with their animals during the week; two for the carnival ride operators; and a bank of units near the grandstand.

KEEPIN’ IT CLEAN

A few months before the fair the company purchased a 2015 3/4-ton Dodge pickup and outfitted it with a Jurop/Chandler pump and a slide-in 300-gallon waste/150-gallon freshwater aluminum tank from Robinson Vacuum Tanks. They had been using their septic truck, a 2003 International with a 2,500-gallon Lely Tank & Waste Solutions steel tank and Jurop/Chandler pump, to pump portable restrooms, having modified it with a hose adaptor and a 150-gallon plastic water container.

The larger truck serviced the easily accessible bank of units while the smaller truck handled the others. Waste from the Dodge was transferred to the International, then transported to the Clearfield County wastewater treatment plant.

The service schedule was the same every day – pump and clean units from 7 to 9:30 a.m., take a breakfast break, pump out campers until noon, then head off to other jobs.

Every couple hours someone would return with paper supplies and hand sanitizer to restock units if necessary and wipe down seats. The company uses Earth Works products from PolyPortables.

THIRD TIME’S A CHARM

Hess says the event went smoothly – which was a relief because the previous two years had some problems. The first year the pump went out on his only service vehicle, and he ended up pumping units all week by hand with a rented sludge pump and two 350-gallon plastic containers, and the second year they had the overuse problem.

“It went great,” he says. “Not one problem. We got a lot of compliments. In fact, we picked up four more fairs for next year already. We were ready for them.”



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