South Carolina PRO Puts Best Foot Forward to Serve a Huge Running Event

It’s a sprint to the finish as Nature’s Calling places, serves and picks up 600 restrooms on Charleston’s big race weekend

South Carolina PRO Puts Best Foot Forward to Serve a Huge Running Event

Service technicians Clifton Jennings, left, and Del Springs service restrooms after the runners have left the area.

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THE TEAM

Nature’s Calling was founded in the early 1990s by Russ Perkins. The company serves the Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, markets from offices in Ridgeland and North Charleston, South Carolina. Nature’s Calling serves construction sites, company picnics, building renovations, festivals, sporting events, emergency response efforts and military mobilizations. It offers portable restrooms, hand-wash stations, large and small specialty trailers, roll-off and front-end containers for trash or recycling, plus compactors. Nature’s Calling provides waste disposal for many large special events in the Southeast U.S., and it aims to be a one-stop shop that can take care of all the liquid waste and solid waste disposal needs for construction sites or events. As Chett McCubrey, general manager, puts it, “We try to be the one-invoice, one-contact-number provider for an event coordinator.”

THE EVENT

The Cooper River Bridge Run, held on April 7 last year, bills itself as the third largest 10K (6.2 mile) race in the country and the best organized 10K race in the world. The first run was held in 1978 with about 1,000 runners, double what the organizers expected, and it has grown to where the field has to be capped at 40,000 participants. Nature’s Calling has been the exclusive portable restroom provider since 1999.

The runners start in Mount Pleasant and follow a route over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the Cooper River Bridge, into downtown Charleston. The bridge is one of Charleston’s major thoroughfares, and it is closed for several hours to accommodate the race. The event is a fundraiser for numerous local charities. At the finish downtown, there is a festival in Marion Square.

There are also numerous other events, some tied to the Bridge Run, and some just timed to take advantage of the large influx of tourists that weekend. Nature’s Calling is the provider for several of them, the largest being the Flowertown Festival, a three-day event in a nearby Charleston suburb of Summerville.

 PLANNING PROCESS

After working this event for 20 years, Nature’s Calling has a good idea where restrooms should be placed for maximum utility, but every year there are always some changes. Before the event, the company holds a meeting with run organizers and representatives from local government to go over unit placement and changes in traffic patterns. “There are always some road construction issues,” McCubrey says. “There are places where we put units last year that we can’t this year. We provide comments and suggestions about what we could do a little differently. We try to work out all those issues before race day, obviously, and go from there.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Nature’s Calling deploys more than 600 portable restrooms and 30 hand-wash stations (Satellite | PolyPortables) over the weekend, and more than 500 of them are for the Bridge Run. The run also requires front-end containers and roll-off containers for trash and recycling (Baker Waste Equipment). The Flowertown Festival also requires restrooms, hand-wash stations and trash and recycling containers.

To move the portable restrooms to the sites and back, Nature’s Calling deploys three 16-unit Laxi-Taxi trailers made by F.M. Mfg. The trailers are towed by three Dodge Ram 3500 or 4500 pickup trucks with stake bodies that can hold four to six portable restrooms, so each truck-trailer rig can haul 20 or 22 units at a time.

Four vacuum trucks are used to empty the units before bringing them back to the Nature’s Calling yard in North Charleston. The fleet includes Hino 195 and 268 trucks, plus two International 4300 models. The trucks are outfitted by Amthor International or TruckXpress with aluminum tanks (1,500-gallon waste, 500 freshwater) and Masport pumps.

LET’S ROLL

On the Mount Pleasant side of the river, where the Cooper River Bridge Run starts, Nature’s Calling can start putting out portable restrooms as early as the Monday before the Saturday event because most of the units can be placed in parking lots or other places that don’t impede the flow of normal traffic. None of the units go on the bridge itself. Most are at the starting area, where participants begin to gather a couple hours before the start of the run. Another large number of units are downtown where participants and family members might spend a few hours after the race. Because the downtown units have to be out of the way of traffic, they have to be placed overnight Friday for the Saturday morning event, and they are picked up overnight Saturday and early Sunday.

“It’s a pretty big weekend for us coordinationwise, staffingwise and equipmentwise,” McCubrey says. “We pull people and resources from every department, not just our portable toilet division, to make sure we can accomplish what we need to accomplish in a timely manner and get it back in a timely manner.”

Nature’s Calling dedicates one crew to placing units in Mount Pleasant starting on the Monday before the race, and that crew stays busy with Bridge Run work the rest of the week. For the weekend itself, McCubrey says everyone knows it’s the biggest weekend of the year for the company and people who don’t normally work on weekends will be on duty.

“We can count on some of the toilet route drivers who don’t normally work on the weekend to be available,” McCubrey says. “We use some of our other roll-off drivers, septic truck drivers, yard folks and managers, and whoever we can pull at the time to make sure things get out and get picked up quickly as well. We use people from across divisions, so we keep the staffing all in-house, which is nice.”

QUICK PICKUP

Since it is a one-day event, the portable restrooms for the Bridge Run don’t need to be serviced, but they need to be picked up quickly. “We have units that line pretty much the entire mass of people waiting to start,” McCubrey says. “As the groups of runners are going through, we’re actually coming in right behind them and pumping the units and picking them up immediately. We also have a crew loading them on trailers and bringing them back to our yard. They drop them off and head back to get another load. We’ll do that back and forth until we get all the units picked up. We’re doing trash collection and some recycling collection in conjunction with the portable toilet removal.” The normal route to Nature’s Calling’s yard in North Charleston would be over the Cooper River Bridge, but at that point the bridge is still closed, so the pickup crews have to take a longer route.

It’s a different story with the equipment at the Flowertown Festival. That’s a three-day event, so the toilets have to be serviced each day and the trash and recycling containers have to be swapped out each night after the festival hours.



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