Tough-Job PROs Don’t Let Anything Slow Them Down, Not Even Hurricane Harvey

Texas-based SouthPoint Rentals is an expert at handling rough terrain, long-desolate routes and serving hardworking crews in construction and in the oil fields.

Tough-Job PROs Don’t Let Anything Slow Them Down, Not Even Hurricane Harvey

Technician John Bustos loads Satellite Industries Tufway restrooms onto a trailer from McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers.

SouthPoint Rentals was born in the remote oil fields of South Texas. Franklin Welding Service of Kingsville was providing welding and construction services for companies working the Eagle Ford Shale play, and it needed portable restrooms at numerous work sites. The company providing and servicing the restrooms was located four hours away from the work sites.

Franklin Welding Service decided to provide its own portable restrooms, so it created SouthPoint Rentals and bought 28 units from Satellite Industries. Then a flatbed truck that had been used for hauling oil field equipment was converted to a restroom service truck with a Satellite Industries vacuum tank and Conde pump (Westmoor). That was in 2011. All operations were coordinated out of Franklin Welding Service’s office until 2016 when Jonathan Sandoval, a former employee and son of one of the company’s partners, became manager of the new company.

Those 28 units were enough to take care of Franklin Welding Service employees, but other companies working in the oil fields saw the truck and began inquiring about portable restroom services. Sandoval kept buying more portable restrooms to meet the demand.

Now SouthPoint Rentals has 540 Satellite Tufway units, two Satellite Industries handicap-accessible units, and more than a dozen hand-wash stations — some made by Satellite Industries and some by PolyJohn. The company has transport trailers from McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers.

The truck fleet is up to four. The original converted oil field flatbed is a Chevy 3500 with a 250-gallon waste and 140-gallon freshwater steel tank. There is another Chevy 3500, also outfitted by Satellite Industries with a Conde pump and a 350-gallon waste and 150-gallon freshwater steel tank. Plus, they have two Dodge 5500 trucks, one outfitted by PortaLogix with an 800-gallon waste tank and a separate 350-gallon freshwater aluminum tank and the other outfitted by FlowMark Vacuum Trucks with an 1,100-gallon waste and 400-gallon freshwater aluminum tank. The bigger trucks use NVE 304 pumps from National Vacuum Equipment.

SouthPoint Rentals also has six 250-gallon Five Peaks holding tanks. It also rents light towers made by Terex and air compressors made by Sullair.

Last November, SouthPoint Rentals received an unusual request for service, a request it fulfilled without charge. Someone connected to Sutherland Springs, Texas, called to ask if SouthPoint Rentals could help out at the scene where a gunman had opened fire at a church, killing 26 people and wounding many others. Six units were sent there right away.

“They needed them for all the first responders and law enforcement and others investigating,” Sandoval says. “We heard there were more than 200 people there from different agencies that were using them. That was just the people in the crime scene area.”

1. Countering an oil field slowdown through diversification

Business in the oil field was booming when SouthPoint Rentals started, but it slowed considerably when the price of oil fell. Sandoval used the slowdown as an opportunity to diversify SouthPoint Rentals’ customer base. “We decided to reach out to local contractors in our area,” he says. “We started doing more construction.”

To increase its contacts and credibility in the community, SouthPoint Rentals joined the Coastal Bend Home Builders Association and the Portable Sanitation Association International. Joining the homebuilders association has been valuable for meeting contractors and establishing relationships. “A lot of people won’t work with you if you’re not part of the organization,” Sandoval says.

Construction site work has grown to about 45 percent of SouthPoint Rentals’ business, about equal to the oil field work. The rest is from events. “We started doing more events. We do a lot of sponsorships, trying to get our name out there,” he says. Sandoval says SouthPoint Rentals has brought in business from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, putting units at a softball field, football games, and local rodeos. It also provides services at outdoor concerts, weddings and parties.

2. Effective hurricane preparation

Hurricane Harvey devastated coastal regions in South Texas, including the Kingsville and Corpus Christi areas that SouthPoint Rentals serves, but the company actually benefitted from the storm, in part because of good preparation.

“When we heard about the storm, I called all our contractors and told them we would be picking up all the units on Thursday and then delivering them back as soon as we got permission to go back out there,” Sandoval says. “Our guys worked 24 hours that Thursday.”

When SouthPoint Rentals started replacing the units, it benefitted from high visibility. “We were the only company out there doing it,” Sandoval says. “There were a lot of people devastated by the storm. They didn’t have power or restrooms, but they saw our units out there. We got a lot of calls.”

The hurricane also produced a lot of demand from new contractors who came into the area to help people rebuild. Some of them set up portable offices with restrooms connected to holding tanks.

3. Scrambling to meet specific demands

When it comes to delivering customers what they want, SouthPoint Rentals goes the extra mile — actually hundreds of miles, if necessary. Not long after Hurricane Harvey, SouthPoint Rentals received an order for a portable restroom to be lifted by a crane up to a rooftop workplace.

Sandoval found a high-rise unit that was ready to go, but it couldn’t be delivered for three days. He didn’t want the customer to have to wait, so he drove 180-plus miles each way to pick up the unit and have it for the customer the next morning.

“They said they needed it, so I loaded up my truck and drove to Cedar Park,” Sandoval says. “We try to keep our customers happy. We don’t want them to go somewhere else if we can provide it for them.”

4. Overcoming difficult terrain

Working in southern Texas presents some challenges, especially the vast distances between service points in the oil fields and the rugged terrain. The heat is also a complicating factor.

“In the oil fields, the locations are very spread out,” Sandoval says. Oil field customers often have numerous units, but they might be 20 miles apart. Most of the roads in the oil fields aren’t paved, so trucks take a beating, and the going can be slow. “It just takes a lot longer,” Sandoval says. “And the rocks chew up the tires a lot quicker, especially with the weight.”

Because of the heat, operators have to be careful not to leave wastewater in the tanks too long because of the potential for bacteria growth. That can mean extra visits to the wastewater treatment plant for dumping. “We have to dump them quite often when it’s real hot,” Sandoval says. “Treatment plants can’t take unsafe levels of bacteria. On Fridays, we try to make sure everybody’s tank is empty so it’s not sitting in the sun over the weekend.”

5. Facing new competitors

After Hurricane Harvey, some bigger portable restroom operators came into the area, but Sandoval says his company hasn’t lost any business to them. “Our prices are not that high. We don’t have the overhead that some companies have,” Sandoval says. SouthPoint Rentals operates from a building owned by Franklin Welding Service, which helps to keep costs down.

Sandoval says he believes in giving all the customers the same price rather than offering separate deals for each one. “Our prices are set, and we give everyone the same rates depending on their location. We’ve kept our customers.”

He’s optimistic that SouthPoint Rentals can keep growing despite additional competition. “There is so much construction going on in the area; there is business everywhere,” Sandoval says. “There is plenty of work out there for everybody.”


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