Atlanta PROs Broke Into the Majors and Hit a Home Run

Timing is everything when Blu-John services Atlanta Braves games at newly opened SunTrust Park.
Atlanta PROs Broke Into the Majors and Hit a Home Run
Tom Schenderlein, left, supervisor, and Roger Smith, a Blu-John driver, are shown servicing restrooms in a parking lot at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. (Photos by Kaylinn Gilstrap)

THE TEAM

Blu-John is owned by Jeremy Hawkins and ADCO Holdings, headquartered in Atlanta. ADCO Holdings is part of ADCO International, a global portable sanitation company with operations in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Tom Schenderlein is the assistant manager directly responsible for the Atlanta Braves service operations. Many different employees contribute to the summer-long service.

COMPANY HISTORY

To build a presence in the U.S., ADCO made its first acquisition in the U.S. in 1998, and established Blu-John in 2000 as a “greenfield” startup in Atlanta. Under the corporate umbrella of Blu Site Solutions, ADCO now operates seven U.S.-based portable sanitation operations. Three of the Blu Site operations are located in Florida, with two more in Georgia and the remaining two in North Carolina. Blu Site serves customers in seven states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

EQUIPMENT ROUND-UP

Blu-John owns thousands of restrooms, primarily made by PolyPortables. The division also owns dozens of Hino and Ford restroom service trucks built out by TankTec and Lane’s Vacuum Tank. They feature aluminum tanks ranging in size from 500 gallons waste/250 gallons freshwater to 5,000 gallons waste/800 gallons freshwater, and are equipped with Masport, Jurop/Chandler and National Vacuum Equipment (NVE) vacuum pumps. The company also owns several GMC 5500 flatbed trucks used for restroom delivery and pickup, restroom trailers from Satellite Industries, hand-wash stations made by PolyPortables and flatbed trailers from by Liquid Waste Industries.

THE MAIN EVENT

This is the eighth year in a row that Blu-John is servicing the 81 home baseball games played by the Atlanta Braves. There’s a new wrinkle this year, however, because the Braves moved from Turner Field to SunTrust Park, located about 10 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta.

PLANNING AHEAD

Preparation for servicing the games begins a couple months before the season, when Hawkins meets with Braves officials to review pregame ticket sales, which is a good indicator of how many restrooms will be needed for games. The most popular games, of course, are on holiday weekends like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, plus any marquee games where the Braves play the best teams in the Major League.

Blu-John provides about 80 restrooms for the most popular games, 60 for medium-popular games and 40 for the least-attended games. Hawkins doesn’t expect any low-attendance games this year because the new stadium is a popular drawing card for fans.

The Braves home stands range from two to 10 or 12 games in a row. Weekday games usually start at 7:30 p.m. and weekend games typically begin at 1 or 4 p.m.

LET’S ROLL

To service a typical game, Blu-John drivers use the company’s GMC flatbed trucks and pull-behind trailers to deliver and pick up restrooms. Each driver can deliver 20 restrooms — eight on a truck and 12 on a trailer, Hawkins says.

On the morning after each game, Blu-John generally pumps out and cleans all the restrooms with one route technician, using one of the company’s Hino 338s, equipped with a 1,500-gallon waste/500-gallon freshwater tank and an NVE pump. If another truck is required, a dispatcher calls in one of the several service trucks Blu-John typically has working in the area, Hawkins says.

Blu-John is required to provide brand-new Atlanta Braves-blue restrooms every year. The company buys PolyPortables Axxis and Vantage units, which feature a handbag shelf, a mirror and coat hook, plus Purell hand-soap dispensers.

“The Braves want the nicest restrooms available for their patrons,” Hawkins explains. “I don’t mind it, either, because people see nice new Blu-John restrooms. So it’s good for the Braves, good for the patrons and good for us.” After the season ends, the new units get combined with the company’s inventory of special-event restrooms.

TIMING IS CRITICAL

On the first day of a home stand, drivers deliver the restrooms around 6 a.m. It’s about a 40-minute drive one way from the Blu-John yard to the stadium. “We have to start early, before the traffic gets too heavy,” Hawkins notes. “If you don’t make that window in the morning, you’re in trouble because thousands of people work in the business buildings that stand all around the stadium.”

The same is true for the morning after a game; the restrooms get cleaned before freeway traffic and tailgaters become an issue, he says.

It takes about two hours to set up the restrooms, which are located within a 1-mile radius around the stadium. “About half of the restrooms are located in the stadium’s largest lot, which is dedicated to just tailgating,” Hawkins says. “We strategically place the other restrooms in clusters of two to six in the rest of the stadium’s parking lots.” The bigger the lot, the more restrooms it receives. The restroom clusters are anywhere from 200 to 500 yards apart, he says.

FAMILIAR BUT DIFFERENT

The biggest difference between the old stadium and the new stadium is the parking lot configuration. At Turner Field, the Braves owned more of the parking lots around and the lots were large. At SunTrust Park, the Braves organization leases parking space from adjacent businesses. As such, the parking lots are smaller and spread out a little more than at Turner Field.

But one thing remains the same: The pressure to deliver great service for a high-profile event, 81 times a year. The exposure to tens of thousands of people at each game is a high-risk, high-reward venture. On one hand, the publicity is great; Hawkins maximizes the opportunity by putting a Blu-John decal on all four sides of each restroom. But that visibility can also backfire if service is anything but top-notch, he notes.

“You don’t want to make a mistake, because it’s a lot of exposure,” Hawkins says. “But so far, it’s been great.”



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