Make This a December to Remember

Reflecting on the past year in portable sanitation, these are a few of my favorite things

Make This a December to Remember

Robert James “Herby” Lindsay, who passed away a year ago, is shown with one of Harold Ross’ restroom units. (Photo courtesy of Harold Ross)

Many of you may be, like me, in the mood to count your blessings this time of year. The meaningful holiday season is on the horizon, and there’s an industry-wide sigh of relief as demand seems to slack off a bit with the cold and (in some areas) snowy weather. For me, it’s a good time for me to reconnect with PROs about potential stories for upcoming issues, look ahead to 2018 trade shows, and reflect on the trends that will shape your companies in the months and years ahead.

For 2017, here are a few of the things I am thankful for as a trade-publication editor: 

Contractors who share their knowledge

Thank you to all of the PROs who’ve told their success stories in our PROfile and On Location features in 2017. Our year-end Back at the Office column in this issue reflects on one piece of advice from each of the 12 PROfile companies from the past year. I know that the advice these contractors generously share has an impact on the entire portable sanitation industry. How? I hear this message regularly from other company owners. They express their thankfulness to the featured PROs, often explaining that one piece of advice stuck with them and was crucial to their business-building efforts. You should all be proud because helping others helps the whole industry improve professionalism.

Oh, and I want to include one side note about the companies we feature. Sometimes the owners have reservations, feeling like there’s a perception that they are boasting or bragging about themselves in these stories. I don’t see it that way. I believe most PROs approach this opportunity with an attitude of helping others succeed and raising the standards of the industry. I am in their debt for letting PRO in for a glimpse at their operations. If you see any of these company owners — for example, at the WWETT Show — congratulate them and let them know what you learned from their story.

Growing events that fuel the industry

Isn’t the growing scope and sophistication of special event restroom service amazing? It wasn’t so many years ago that a contract for 100 restrooms represented a top-tier customer for just about any portable sanitation contractor. While that’s still an event to be proud of, PROs are serving many supersized special events these days that require hundreds of standard restrooms, a number of VIP restroom trailers, showers, sinks, holding tanks and an elaborate plan to service them. And many of these music festivals, parties in the desert, and gatherings for the solar eclipse — to name a few — would not be possible without portable sanitation. The services you provide are making the seemingly impossible possible. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next year.

A strong wastewater industry infrastructure

PROs promise and deliver vastly improved service all the time. But it wouldn’t be possible without a dynamic infrastructure of equipment manufacturers. Standard restrooms are more attractive and functional. Manufacturers are making them lighter and more durable in addition to continually offering more variety in the products. Demand for restroom trailers — chiefly for weddings, high-end events and commercial remodeling projects — is way up. And many PROs say they must have VIP trailers in the yard to remain competitive. In response, builders are presenting many more just-like-home-or-better designs, and this sparks the imagination of customers to find new uses for high-end service. Innovation is also happening in other areas — vacuum tank design, deodorant products, etc. — and it all helps bring more legitimacy to the industry.

I hope I have the pleasure of catching up with all of you this month or in the year ahead. If you want to reach out to me, send me a note at editor@promonthly.com. With Christmas music playing in the office and the snow falling outside, it’s a good time for me to chat. 

A TRIBUTE TO HERBY

I bet you’ve all known your share of guys like Herby.

Harold Ross of Room to Go in the Toronto area recently sent a tribute to his friend, Herbert James “Herby” Lindsay, a pioneer in the wastewater business in Canada, as the one-year anniversary of Herby’s death approaches. Herby passed away Dec. 21, 2016, at age 80. Ross wanted to let the portable sanitation industry outside of Ontario know a little bit about Herby, and I wanted to oblige his request as the holidays approach, a time when we are especially thankful for good friends.

“Herby was one of life’s special characters — he lived life full-blast. When he was in the room, everybody knew. Although his voice might be loud, he was not a loudmouth. What he had to say was important to him and to almost all who listened,” Ross writes. “Not everyone agreed, but everyone listened. His heart was in the right place for his business and for our industry.” 

Herby got into pumping the same way many others have over the years. He recognized a need and went out to fill it. Ross explained that Herby worked in an accounting department at a construction-related company in Sudbury, Ontario when in 1965 he thought it was costing too much to handle the company’s waste. So, he bought a vacuum truck and started doing it himself.

A moonlighting job started with a handful of wooden restrooms, and Herby Enterprises Ltd. was born. After a lot of years of hard work and expansion, portable restrooms around Sudbury came to be known simply as “Herbies.”

Over the years Herby served his community in many ways: through the chamber of commerce, the Masonic Lodge, and donations to many organizations including his favorite — the Special Olympics. He served as the president of the Ontario Association of Sewage Industry Services.

I didn’t know Herby, but he represented the kind of stand-up small-business owners who populate this industry. Ross will forever recall an image of a smiling Herby riding on his backhoe in the company yard.

“Herby was good to his employees. He demanded hard work and was strict, but he shared the company’s success … through regular raises, year-end bonuses, incentive awards and a family-business atmosphere,” Ross writes. “Most of his employees were there for the long haul, and many children of employees signed on with the company — a good place to work.”

It’s good to take time to remember and be thankful for Herby and all the great industry friends we’ve lost over the years. As the holidays approach and we look forward to the challenges a new year brings, I wish you all health and happiness.



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