Clean Portable Sanitation a Key to Car Show Success

Hustling Wisconsin crew puts it in high gear to service one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest collector car shows.
Clean Portable Sanitation a Key to Car Show Success
Part of the Packerland Portables crew assembles to provide service at a special event. The group includes, left to right, John Wenzel, Matthew Pingel, Tammy Pennau, Christine Meyer, Mike Meyer and Wade Pennau.

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THE TEAM

Wade Pennau is the owner of Packerland Portables in Wautoma, Wisconsin. His wife, Tammy, assists with the Iola Old Car Show, along with his father, Steve, and his son, Casey, 23, who drives a large vacuum truck. Regular route drivers Mike Meyer and Matthew Pingel each drive one of the two vacuum trucks required to handle daily restroom service; Mike’s wife, Christine, helps Mike. Two other regular route drivers, John Wenzel and Jake Roberts, also pitch in on a rotating basis. Employee Neville Harris cleans and preps restrooms in the company’s yard, and dispatcher William Pierotti keeps things humming in an orderly fashion, says Pennau.

COMPANY HISTORY

A serial entrepreneur who also owns a car wash, a bike shop, a septic pumping company, an equipment and party rental outfit, and a ministorage facility, Pennau got into portable sanitation in 2000 when he bought an existing restroom business in Wautoma to complement the equipment rental business (Wautoma Rental Center). Pennau, 44, continued to grow the company through acquisitions by purchasing another restroom company and a septic service company in 2013 and 2014. The company now employs 11 people.

To service customers, Packerland runs three vacuum trucks built by Imperial Industries Inc. and each equipped with a pump made by Masport Inc.: a 2010 Dodge 5500 with a 575-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tank; a 2006 GMC 4500 with a 775-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater aluminum tank; and a 2005 Ford F-550 with a 575-waste/300-gallon freshwater tank. Packerland also owns a 1998 Dodge 2500 with a 200-gallon waste/100-gallon slide-in steel tank with a Conde pump from Westmoor Ltd.; it’s used as a backup truck.

In addition, the company also owns 600 restrooms, most from PolyPortables and some from Satellite Industries Inc. and T.S.F. Company Inc. That includes 16 handicapped-accessible units and four ADA-compliant units from T.S.F. In addition, Packerland offers 20 hand-wash stations made by T.S.F. and PolyPortables. Packerland also owns a self-fabricated shower trailer, fashioned from a semi-trailer, and two PolyPortables urinal units. For restroom transport, the company uses a trailer from McKee Technologies Inc. and units fabricated in-house.

THE MAIN EVENT

Established in 1972, the Iola Old Car Show (www.iolaoldcarshow.com) – held every July – is one of the Midwest’s largest and oldest auto shows. It hosts about 120,000 spectators during its Thursday-through-Sunday run and features more than 2,000 show cars, 4,400 swap spots, a car corral for selling vintage cars, and 1,600 campsites, all spread across 300 acres in central Wisconsin.

“It’s our biggest special event – sort of like our Super Bowl,” Pennau says.

BY THE NUMBERS

For the show, Packerland delivers about 200 restrooms, including three handicapped-accessible units and two urinal stations. “We use the urinal stations at a couple special events each year,” Pennau explains. “It takes a little extra work to set them up, because they require a privacy screen on both ends.” The company also provides two shower trailers; one was hand-fabricated by Packerland out of a semi-trailer and the other unit was rented from Thunder Showers LLC.

Just about every employee contributes to servicing the show. Packerland starts delivering restrooms on the Sunday before the event begins, using three trucks and three trailers. The deliveries require either an 18- or a 40-mile one-way trip, depending on which of the two equipment yards the units are coming from (either Wautoma or Waupaca, Wisconsin). Each truck makes four round-trips and deliveries are completed by Tuesday, Pennau says.

“The restrooms are located all over the grounds in clusters, ranging in size from two units to 12 or 14 in a group,” Pennau says. “The show organizers have got the restroom locations down pat.”

KEEPIN’ IT CLEAN

Packerland pumps and cleans the restroom units twice a day (once early in the morning and again in the afternoon) for the first three days of the show, and once on Sunday. The company uses two vacuum trucks: a 2006 GMC 4500 and the 2010 Dodge 5500 (a 775-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater aluminum tank and 575-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tank, respectively). The Meyers drive one truck and Pingel drives the other, with other drivers riding with him on a rotating basis.

“It gets pretty congested on the show grounds, so you need good drivers,” Pennau says. “You do the best you can. … No one jumps right out of your way. But our guys are really good about it – they’re very patient and take their time.”

EFFICIENT WASTE DISPOSAL

The nearest treatment center that accepts restroom waste is 18 miles away. So to minimize back-and-forth trips for disposal, the drivers off-load waste into a larger septic service truck: a 2006 Peterbilt with a 3,600-gallon tank, built by Imperial Industries Inc. with a Masport pump. Pennau’s son, Casey, drives that vehicle and makes about one disposal trip each day.

“We can fit about five loads (from the smaller portable sanitation trucks) in the Peterbilt,” Pennau points out. “It helps us keep our operating expenses down for the event.”

WORKING OVERTIME

Employees start picking up restrooms on Monday morning and pickups conclude by Wednesday morning. In all, Packerland devotes almost 10 full days to making the car show a successful event.

“It’s pretty intense, but we kind of like it,” Pennau says. “It’s a lot of long hours. But the car show staff is very easy to work with, which helps make it a success. On our end, our guys are invaluable. … Everyone does their part and it all comes out pretty easy.”



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