Best Portable Sanitation Service Tips for Working a Food and Beer Festival

Michigan’s Williams & Bay Pumping found a little extra maintenance goes a long way at the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival.
Best Portable Sanitation Service Tips for Working a Food and Beer Festival
The Williams & Bay team includes (from left) Shawn Smedley, Norm Krogel, Bill Leader, Denise Schoelles, Dave Irwin, Scott Novak, Joe Williams, Todd Hannah, Steve Egeler, Tom Parsons, Jimmy Quigley and Mike Nesky.

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Williams & Bay Pumping Services is located in the extreme northwest corner of Lower Michigan. Owner Joe Williams leads a team of 12 full-time and two part-time employees. Portable restroom rentals and service make up 20 percent of the pumping company’s revenues.


Williams’ father, Ron, started a pumping company in 1983 with a vacuum truck built with the help of a friendly welder. “After assembling the truck, my dad went to National Vacuum Equipment (NVE) in Traverse City to buy a pump, saw a copy of Pumper on the desk, and realized he could have bought a ready-made truck,” says Williams.

He bought the business in 1993 and expanded the Cedar, Michigan, business to include septic inspection, sewer and drain repairs, and portable restrooms. He purchased Bay Pumping in 2006, while expanding both revenues and geographic reach from a local service provider to a radius of between 55 and 60 miles. Williams is an active member of the Michigan Septic Tank Association.


Williams & Bay offers almost 550 portable restrooms: 83 Fleet Series with hand-wash units and a PolyLift from PolyJohn Enterprises; 110 High Techs and four Tufways from Satellite Industries; 152 Tuff-Jons from T.S.F. Company; and 161 Glaciers from Five Peaks. The company runs 29 handicap units, including 25 that are ADA compliant.

Williams purchased 175 of the units in 2015 to take on two separate festival contracts in a single weekend, increasing the company’s capability to bid on larger events. The company also offers 28 stand-alone Bravo hand-wash stations from PolyJohn.

The fleet includes three Freightliners: a 2011 M2-112 with 5,200-gallon aluminum tank and NVE 607 Challenger pump built out by Imperial Industries, and two 2007 M2-106 rigs with 3,300-gallon steel tanks and Max Pack vacuum systems from NVE, built by Marsh Industrial. A 2008 Peterbilt 340 carries a 3,600-gallon Progress aluminum tank and NVE 607 pump.

On the portable sanitation side, Williams & Bay has a 2012 Ford F-550 with a 650-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tank and NVE pump from Satellite; a 2008 Ford F-550 with the same tank and a Masport pump; and a 2008 GMC W-4500 with a 550-gallon steel wastewater and 250-gallon poly freshwater tank and a Conde pump (Westmoor Ltd.) from Crescent Tank Mfg. The trucks haul two 10-unit transport trailers — a Karavan and a ShoreLand’r (Midwest Industries, Inc.).


The 2015 Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival was held Aug. 21 and 22. It highlights the offerings of 70 microbreweries, local food vendors, and a blend of local and regional music at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons — the redeveloped historic grounds of a former psychiatric hospital complex opened in 1881.

”We have more microbreweries per capita in this area than anywhere in the country,” says Williams. “Some local farmers are converting their crops to hops.”

It was the seventh annual festival, drawing 5,000 people, and the third-successive contract for Williams & Bay. A new wrinkle this time: Brew Camp, an overnight campground facility for festivalgoers located 15 miles west of the event.

Williams & Bay delivered 34 Five Peaks Glaciers, five PolyJohn Fleet Series with hand-wash, three Five Peaks ADA-compliant Matterhorns, and six PolyJohn Bravo hand-wash stations.


Rental units come back to headquarters on Monday or Tuesday and are power-washed in preparation for the event. They’re pre-stocked with bathroom tissue currently supplied by Hauler Agent. Restrooms and hand-wash stations are pre-stocked with a range of hand soaps purchased from Sam’s Club.


The event is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday, and 3 to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

“We set up with two guys taking their time,” says Williams. “We’re clear to move in at 8 a.m. Thursday, but by then it’s fenced in and we’re competing with 50 to 60 people setting up food kiosks, stages and brew tents. The grounds are also dotted with 150-year-old trees that need to be protected, so you can’t drive under the branches or anywhere near the roots.”

The event layout is too cramped for a semi-trailer, so Williams sends in the GMC W-4500, which carries six units, and a standard GMC 3500 pickup with flatbed, which carries four. Each hauls a 10-unit trailer for a 30-unit morning delivery.

“We can pull up nice and tight on the property,” says Williams. “VIP units are placed near the headliner stages, and about 75 percent of the units go into one spot near the main events.”

Four additional units are placed at Brew Camp about 20 minutes away.

At the festival site, the crew adds deodorants from either Satellite or J & J Chemical Co.

“They wipe down the road dust accumulated during transit and the units are ready to go,” says Williams. “The second delivery run comes in early afternoon, but by then the site is becoming more congested. We try to follow the event planner’s map; however, some vendors get a little fussy with final placement, so the final five to eight units are strategically placed.”


“It’s a nice-sized event,” says Williams. “We send someone in about two or three hours after the gates open and the crowds begin to arrive. He’s armed with cleaning supplies, rags and bathroom tissue and goes from one end of the event to the other to keep the units clean and tidy and spray fragrance about once per hour. At a beer festival, those units get used pretty heavily, but by wiping them down pre-emptively you can go from ‘yow’ to ‘wow,’ and it puts a nice shine on the event.”

The crew member also keeps a repair kit on hand containing latches, toilet seats, hinges, springs, rivets and a rivet gun — just in case.


During the event, restrooms are pumped and serviced daily at 7:30 a.m. by two technicians driving the Ford F-550s.

“One truck starts on one end of the site and the second truck starts on the other,” says Williams. “It doesn’t take long to meet in the middle, then one of the trucks heads for the campground. Next year we’re recommending that the organizers use six to eight units at camp.”

The trucks unload at the Grand Traverse County Septage Treatment Facility about 2 miles away, as required by the county for all waste pumped there.


“We pick up the units on Sunday or Monday as they were delivered and have them all back here in four or five hours,” says Williams. “We line them all up, bring in the pressure washers and we’re going to town.”


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