An Island Event in the Middle of America’s Biggest City Is a Major Challenge for These PROs

A Royal Flush shuttles hundreds of restrooms through New York City traffic and onto a park in the middle of the East River to serve the Governors Ball Music Festival.

An Island Event in the Middle of America’s Biggest City Is a Major Challenge for These PROs

Fans are shown with a Governors Ball Music Festival banner over the festival grounds. Photos courtesy of A Royal Flush

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The Team

A Royal Flush has 120 full-time employees and another 30 seasonal workers. The company is based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but also has offices and equipment in Holyoke, Massachusetts; Bronx, New York; Philadelphia; and Newark, New Jersey. The company serves Connecticut, New Jersey, western Massachusetts, southern New York and eastern Pennsylvania with more than 10,000 portable restrooms, 60 restroom trailers and 80 trucks.

Company History

A Royal Flush was founded in 1992 by five friends in Connecticut who started with 400 restrooms. It remains family-owned and -operated, though there was a major transition in 2017 after the sudden death of Bill Malone, the principal owner. Two of the other founding partners, Tim Butler and Mauro DaSilva, stepped up to play bigger roles. DaSilva became the chief operating officer, and Butler became the primary owner and chairman of the board. Tom Butler, Tim’s brother, became the chief executive officer.

Special events in challenging locations have become a niche for A Royal Flush. In addition to the Governors Ball Music Festival, the company has been the portable sanitation provider for the New York City Marathon for more than 20 years.

Making Connections

The Governors Ball Music Festival has been an annual event in New York City since 2011. In the early years, it was held on Governors Island, but it outgrew that site and moved to Randall’s Island Park on an island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. After the first year, A Royal Flush bid on the job and won the contract for 2012; and it has been the portable restroom provider ever since. The 2020 event is scheduled for June 5-7.

The Main Event

The three-day event, typically draws 150,000 people to the island park for music of various genres on five stages. The music goes until 11 p.m. There is no camping, so the island clears out for the night, but there are still lots of people moving around the island late into the night, including musicians, food vendors, merchandise vendors and others, along with the crews servicing the portable restrooms.

Getting Started

A Royal Flush begins its work on the Governors Ball Music Festival 10 days before the festival, with deliveries of portable restrooms and luxury restroom trailers to the site. A crew of seven drivers bring the 600 restrooms on Ford F-350 trucks with long custom-built trailers that can carry 28 units per load. The trucks were set up specifically for special-event setups.

“They are our most experienced event team,” DaSilva says. “These are seasoned professionals who have the knowledge and experience to be able to drive the trucks filled with the units in Manhattan and other areas.”

The portable restrooms delivered to the island are Satellite | PolyPortables Global and Liberty units.

“The event units are a nice dark green, and they blend in nicely with the environment,” DaSilva says. “There is greenery there and lots of trees. They work with the landscape.”

A Royal Flush also delivers 65 Satellite | PolyPortables and T.S.F. hand-wash stations, as well as 15 luxury restroom trailers, 28-foot Presidential models manufactured by Black Tie Products. The luxury trailers are for use by performers in the backstage areas, and they are also placed in the VIP areas of the concert venue.

An Urban Island

The most challenging aspect of the music festival is that it’s on an island, so access to the site is limited. While the concertgoers can come on foot, by shuttle bus, car or even a ferry, the only way to deliver and service restrooms is to drive in on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. “There’s only one way on and off,” Tom Butler says. “You really have to be prepared. There’s no Home Depot down the street if you forgot something or you have a last-minute repair. You really have to be prepared for all kinds of contingencies.”

The basic strategy is to bring more than is expected to be needed, including people and equipment. “We overstaff the event,” Butler continues. “If three attendants didn’t show up, I can’t get three people on the island once the event starts. There’s no way. We err on the side of caution.”

A Royal Flush also brings in additional equipment in case something breaks down. As an extra precaution, a 6,000-gallon tank on a tractor-trailer is parked in a parking lot during the event. If all goes well, that tank does not get used.

Keepin’ It Clean

Setup starts 10 days prior to the event, and pickup is done in two days after the event. Timing and execution is very specific, Butler explains, and units are serviced daily and maintained throughout the event, with attendants at every restroom location. A Royal Flush has a staff of 12 attendants keeping the restrooms clean and stocked during the event. With the attendants, drivers and a logistics manager, A Royal Flush has 23 people on site for the event.

The restrooms are serviced by 10 trucks and 10 drivers after each day’s musical events are over. The majority are 2019 Kenworths with 1,500-gallon aluminum tanks (1,000-gallon waste and 500-gallon freshwater) with National Vacuum Equipment pumps outfitted by Robinson Vacuum Tanks. Others were Hino trucks from Andert and carrying Masport pumps.

“With the music festival, you have to think about the flow of traffic from one stage to the next,” says Tom Mahl, event logistics manager. “There are five major stages. Music is going on at all different locations. When one show ends, thousands of people move to a different area.”

Experience Counts

An experienced team enables A Royal Flush to get through heavy traffic with truckloads of units and deliver the necessary service in challenging venues. “We know every nook and cranny of the area,” Butler says. “That gives us the home-court advantage to be able to deliver a great experience for the attendees and for our customers.” 


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