Wisconsin’s A-1 Septic Supports Student Sharpshooters

A northern Wisconsin PRO is delighted to donate restroom service for a high school invitational trap-shooting competition

Wisconsin’s A-1 Septic Supports Student Sharpshooters

Student shooters compete at the Northwoods Invitational Trap and Sporting Clay Shoot in northern Wisconsin. (Photos by Cory Dellenbach)

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Tom and Candy Arts are the owners of A-1 Septic Service and Installation in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, population 8,000. The company specializes in septic work but operates a small portable sanitation operation as well.

Their team of 11 includes three office personnel, vacuum truck operators, an installation crew, someone who handles soil testing and permitting, and one portable restroom technician. They operate out of one location but have local phone numbers in three surrounding towns. Greg Golden, plumber and vacuum truck operator, spearheaded the Northwoods Invitational Trap and Sporting Clay Shoot event, coordinating with the client and helping the technician. 


The company’s origins go back to 1960. The Arts purchased the company in February of 2000 from the original owner. Tom Arts had been in a management position in a factory but says plumbing, soil testing and working outside started to have more of an appeal.

“And I figured I was at a point in my life where, why not go over a million dollars in debt and just see what happens?” he jokes. “But it’s worked out. Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it.”

Portable restrooms were a small part of the company when they bought it — 10 or 12 units — but they continued to purchase more units as the need arose. Today they’ve got 60 standard and 10 wheelchair-accessible units and four hand-wash stations from Five Peaks and Satellite | PolyPortables.

“It was just something out there that we felt the need to be involved in,” Arts explains. “We’re in a rural area so we don’t have a lot of them because there’s not a tremendous demand. So it’s not our main business but it’s definitely a part of it — just another spoke in the wheel.” They provide units for local events and construction sites (about half and half) within a 45-mile radius. The outdoor wedding industry is also very big in their area.


Shooting sports are popular in the Northwoods, the northern part of the state known for its forests and lakes. Trap and sporting clays are two variations of the sport in which contestants, using shotguns, shoot at clay targets launched into the air by automatic throwing machines. In trap shooting, contestants shoot from five stations in one area, and targets are shot from a trap in front of them. In sporting clays, about a dozen shooting stations are set up throughout a large woodland course, and speeds, angles, trajectories and directions of the targets are unpredictable, simulating real-life bird and rabbit hunting situations. Contestants are organized in teams of two to six.

Over the May 18‑19, 2018 weekend, about 150 high school students from around the state, both male and female, took part in the Northwoods Invitational Trap and Sporting Clay Shoot held at the Harshaw Sports Club, a trap and sporting clays facility, in Harshaw. Venues typically rotate for these competitions, and club members and townspeople were excited to host the event for the first time. The competitions help develop students’ skills, provide a fun challenge and promote safety.


Arts is a member of the Harshaw Sports Club, and when he found out they were hosting the Northwoods Invitational shoot, he volunteered his services.

“A lot of the towns around this area have trap teams in their high schools,” he says. “The club was able to host the event, and I volunteered to do the portable toilets. Whenever there’s something that involves veterans or kids, we always try to step up to the plate and we just donate. That’s how we got involved.”


Contestants, parents and coaches had access to the restroom facilities in the clubhouse during the event, but the company did provide units for the more remote sporting clays course. Seven Five Peaks blue standard units were set up around the course in seven locations near shooting stations — “Or where we could find a level place to put them,” Arts says.

Units were supplied with hand sanitizer and Walex Products Porta-Pak drop-in deodorizers.

The company brought the units to the club — about 10 miles down the road from its facility — two days before the event using their service truck, a GMC 3500 flatbed built out by Specialty B Sales with a 300-gallon waste and 100-gallon freshwater stainless steel tank with a Jurop/Chandler pump, and a two-unit trailer from Utility Trailer. But as there were no roads in the backwoods, to take the units from the clubhouse to the shooting course, they hooked the trailer to a Polaris Sportsman 500 all-terrain vehicle and brought them in one and two at a time.

On the Monday after the event, units were taken back to the clubhouse for pumping before returning them to the shop where they were pressure-washed. Waste was off-loaded onto a septic truck and then taken to the treatment plant in Elcho.


Arts was out of the town the weekend of the event but says by all accounts everyone enjoyed themselves. And he jokingly reports that none of the units sustained injuries — “So, the kids did well!” In fact, townspeople and club members were very impressed with the kids, he says. One “grumpy old guy” summed it up to him — “You know what I learned? I learned that there’s hope. These kids were unbelievable. They were respectful, they were just so polite and they were very focused on safety.” 


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