Jimmy’s Johnnys Lived Every PRO’s Dream by Serving the NFL's Biggest Game

Working restrooms at Super Bowl LIVE meant huge crowds with great expectations, as well as frigid cold in the nation’s icebox. But the crew at Jimmy’s Johnnys loved every minute of it.

Jimmy’s Johnnys Lived Every PRO’s Dream by Serving the NFL's Biggest Game

Rich Anderson spools up a suction hose after servicing a bank of PolyJohn Enterprises restrooms at Super Bowl LIVE. The WorkMate truck from FMI Truck Sales & Service carries a 750-gallon wastewater steel tank, 300-gallon freshwater poly tank and Masport pump.

THE TEAM

By the time football fans tuned into the 2018 Super Bowl on Feb. 4, members of the Jimmy’s Johnnys team were wrapping up servicing portable restrooms for nine nights of Super Bowl LIVE activities in downtown Minneapolis. Though only six employees were on location servicing restrooms and VIP trailer units, all employees were part of the team that made it work, says Rich Anderson, owner of the North Branch (Minnesota) company. 

Planning for the process began months ahead, after Jimmy’s Johnnys learned they won the bid. Lana Garcia served as contact person, working with the company that handled the logistics for vendors and services surrounding the concerts and events for nine days before the Super Bowl. Her husband, David Garcia, coordinated the servicing schedule and workers.

“Everyone was excited about being part of the Super Bowl,” Anderson says. “We picked a few guys to be there, but everyone behind them did their job to keep things going.” To show his appreciation, each of Jimmy’s Johnnys 18 staff members received a jacket that says “Official Service Team” with the Super Bowl LII logo.

COMPANY HISTORY

Being part of the NFL event reflects how far Jimmy’s Johnnys has come since Anderson and his wife, Julie, purchased a 20-year-old portable restroom business with 250 units in 1999. Now they have 2,300 units and an average of 20 employees. Initially located 50 miles north of downtown Minneapolis, Anderson grew the business intentionally by crossing Interstate 694 to add the metro market.

“Our main business core is a five-county area (around the Twin Cities), doing events and construction,” he says. In addition to standard restrooms, Jimmy’s Johnnys offers luxury restroom and shower trailers, freshwater tanks, grease barrels, and storage containers. 

The company in 2012 won the bid to provide 300 portable restrooms to the Minnesota’s State Fair that runs for 12 days up through Labor Day. “This job (Super Bowl LIVE) was very similar,” Anderson points out, with nine service days and 300 restrooms. And the timing was good. Plenty of units were available, and the extra income helped in traditionally slow months.

THE MAIN EVENT

Super Bowl LIVE occupied six blocks of Nicollet Mall for 10 days of free events for the public. There were concerts every evening (48 bands/artists), a zip line, freestyle snowmobile stunts, sleigh rides behind a pickup, cross-country skiing, skijoring (dogs pulling skiers), and other outdoor activities along with dozens of food and beverage trucks and tents. 

With the theme, “Bold North,” Minneapolis worked hard to sell the message of having fun no matter the weather. Nature cooperated with snow — 5-inches on the Saturday before the Super Bowl — and cold, dropping as low as 8 degrees below zero (not counting the wind chill) at night. The visitors came anyway, more than a million over 10 days. 

BY THE NUMBERS

Following the schedule set up by Super Bowl LIVE organizers, Jimmy’s Johnnys began setting up four days before it started.

“Everything was tight, so it was hard to park the trucks; there were tents everywhere,” Anderson notes. 

The plan was to set up two banks of 100 restrooms, smaller groups of 22-40 restrooms and a few others scattered in areas near specific attractions such as the zip line for a total of 300 PolyJohn Enterprises units. In addition, Jimmy’s Johnnys provided two Ameri-Can Engineering Oasis VIP trailers for the musicians, eight 100-gallon freshwater containers and 25 grease barrels for food trucks, and two storage containers for the concert stage area near a snow slide to store equipment. 

Jimmy’s Johnnys had specific times to deliver and set up the restrooms over three days. Anderson saved his employees the hassle of delivering some of the units with strategic planning.

“I always buy toilets in the spring,” he explains. “I ordered them early and had six semi loads (168 units) delivered there (Minneapolis).”

He also had Dynamic Details decals and Deb Industries hand sanitizer dispensers (with Jimmy’s Johnnys logo) shipped to PolyJohn Enterprises for installation, so the units were stickered and ready to use when he unloaded them with a Bobcat and forks. Each of the three days, employees brought trailers with the rest of the units in the morning to unload before semis with new restrooms arrived at 11 a.m. and noon. 

“People from the committee were impressed when the trucks showed up,” Lana Garcia notes. “The restrooms looked amazing, picture perfect.”

LET’S ROLL

Six Jimmy’s Johnnys staff, including Anderson, took care of the servicing throughout the event. Due to tight security, all had to provide driver’s licenses for clearance and received official badges with photos. They also had to provide VIN and license numbers for each truck. 

Employees, George Halverson and Scott Engren, shared the 5500 Chevrolet Kodiak from Lane’s Vacuum Tank with a 900-gallon waste and 400-gallon freshwater steel tank and Masport pump to take care of the two banks of 100 restrooms. Three other WorkMate trucks from FMI Truck Sales & Service with 750-gallon wastewater steel tanks and 300-gallon freshwater poly tanks and Masport pumps, and a 2017 Dodge Ram from Satellite Industries with 600-gallon waste, 300-gallon freshwater steel tank were used to service the rest of the portable restrooms. Employees David Garcia and Ben Pilquist serviced the smaller banks of restrooms, and Anderson took care of a bank of 21, the scattered units near the zip line, and other areas. 

Most days the usage was light enough that all the waste could be pumped into the biggest truck and a smaller truck to be dumped at a treatment plant about 20 minutes away in one or two trips. 

“Our biggest unknown was how cold and how heavy the traffic was going to be,” Anderson says. “A lot of nights it was so cold that the dump valves were freezing,” Anderson says. Drivers used propane heaters to thaw it enough to dump. 

Lana Garcia adds that prior to the event, staff planned what they would do in worst-case scenarios. While none of them happened, they used some practical prevention tactics. Workers took along extra restroom units in case they needed to exchange them, and they filled urinals with water softener pellets and the toilets with a brine mix.

“We had methanol ready to combine with the brine if it got real cold, but we never needed it,” Anderson adds. 

The crew arrived daily between 10 p.m. and midnight, after the bands and crowds left, to pump and clean the restrooms and refill them with brine that shop worker Clare Morrisette prepared for them each day. 

Fortunately, the restrooms weren’t overly used every day, as the crew had feared. That is, until Saturday. The day before the Super Bowl, the weather, crowds, and crazy traffic converged to make everything a challenge.  

“They were filled right to the brim. Some toilets had 6 inches of snow packed inside, and we had to shovel them out. The 300 toilets usually take two hours to service. That Saturday, we got there at 10 p.m. and didn’t get out until 5:30 a.m. It took half an hour to go six blocks — at 4 a.m. it was still gridlocked,” Anderson recalls.

He was grateful every day wasn’t like that. He was also grateful that the portable restrooms weren’t damaged. A couple had graffiti, and one had the soap dispenser ripped off the wall, but that was the extent of the damage.

He credited Garcia for taking care of the restrooms each day. She was attendant for the VIP trailers and carried a backpack with toilet paper and cleaners. She had a radio and regularly checked all the restrooms and cleaned them or locked them when they didn’t meet Jimmy’s Johnnys standards.

WRAPPING IT UP

The Monday after the Super Bowl, Jimmy’s Johnnys had all its restrooms removed after taking loads out late Saturday night, after 3 p.m. on Sunday, and the rest on Monday.

“We have trailers that haul 14-26 units (Ameri-Can Engineering, Lane’s Vacuum Tank), and we can pull 96 at one time,” Anderson says.

Other than having to thaw a frozen hose used to fill the VIP trailer water tank, everything went well for a big event in the Bold North.

“They (Minneapolis organizers) actually said this was the first time they didn’t have any problems with portable restrooms,” Garcia says. “We got an email saying what a great job we do. We are a smaller company, and we knocked it out of the park.”

“They (committee) were super, super happy with us,” Anderson adds. 

One of the things the committee emphasized was having attractive restrooms with decals neatly placed on all four sides. That’s also a priority for Anderson, and by ordering units early, the new restrooms debuted at Super Bowl LIVE and are now ready to go to work this year. With many Minnesotans attending the event, the exposure may net more work in the future. 

“When I was cleaning, a lot of people said we had the cleanest restrooms they had been in,” Anderson says. “When we did the State Fair, we saw a boost in business from being there. Super Bowl LIVE was a great opportunity to prove Jimmy’s Johnnys is ready to serve large venues — even in winter.”

However, though it may be tempting, the Minnesota company has to turn down one job request Garcia received while working at Super Bowl LIVE. Someone asked her “Do you want to come to Atlanta for the next Super Bowl?”

Unfortunately, that is a little outside Jimmy’s Johnnys territory. 



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