Computer Programmer Bobby Tucker Incorporates Many Technology Upgrades Into His Restroom and Roll-Off Container Business

Easy-Haul has found the perfect combination of services to offer busy construction contractors in a fast-growing region of south Alabama

Computer Programmer Bobby Tucker Incorporates Many Technology Upgrades Into His Restroom and Roll-Off Container Business

The Easy-Haul team includes (front row, from left) Ronnie Malec, C.J. Jones, Vernon Edwards, Robert Bishop, Todd Roth, Justin Self and Jarred Richardson. In the back row, from left, are Terry Rencher, Tim Crowe, Bennie Richardson, Dodson Brown, Quinten Rencher, Travis Brown, Joseph Mixon, Bobby Tucker and Austin Tucker.

When a computer programmer starts a business, it’s a sure bet technology will be front and center in handling as many aspects of the enterprise as possible. That was the case when Bobby Tucker started a roll-off container business in 2004, later adding portable restrooms.

Although successful as a programmer in the petroleum industry, Tucker realized there might be better ways to make money. “He liked the idea of being able to purchase equipment and that equipment generating the revenue,” explains his son Austin Tucker, the company’s vice president. “As a computer programmer, it was all on him to do the work, and this was a way equipment could make money for him.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, it looked like a roll-off container business would fit the bill, and in November of that year, the senior Tucker bought a truck and four containers, brought his brother Todd Roth on board and started Easy-Haul. Austin, a pre-med student, joined them in December, planning to stay temporarily.

“My dad was also about to begin pastoring a church, and I told him I’d give him a semester or two, with plans of going back to school,” he says. “But I ended up staying and working with him.”

The company’s 17 employees operate out of a building that houses their office and shop and an enclosed fueling, washing and storage garage on a 5-acre property in Fairhope, Alabama, located on the east side of Mobile Bay. Austin oversees overall operations, his brother-in-law Jarred Richardson manages the portable restroom division, long-time employee Justin Self handles the roll-off division, and Bobby programs software updates and helps manage operations. The four work mostly in the office, answering phones, dispatching staff and doing paperwork. Austin’s mother, Pam, comes in weekly to do invoicing. Their service territory covers Mobile and Baldwin counties, the state’s two largest counties.

SAME-DAY SERVICE

Seven drivers work on the roll-off side, which accounts for about 70% of the company’s revenue. Growth has been steady, and each year they’ve added 30 to 40 containers. They now have 615 20- and 27-yard Thompson Fabricating containers with SwapLoader USA hoists and eight Peterbilt trucks.

One big selling point is offering same-day service when customers need it, such as for large demolition jobs. And they mean it.

“I tell our guys all the time, ‘If we promise a guy that we’ll get to it, then we’ve got to do everything we can to get to it,’” Austin Tucker says. “I think that’s why a lot of our homebuilders stay loyal to us, because they know they can rely on us.”

The company also has 40 20-foot cargo containers. It’s not a huge part of the business, but customers appreciate being able to get one when they need it. The units are modified with a hook and bottom runners so they can be picked up and hauled by the Peterbilts.

BRANCHING OUT

Over the years, the Tuckers thought about adding portable restrooms but were a little hesitant. But by 2012, they took the plunge and bought a truck and 75 units.

“Once we did it, it was extremely successful and we’ve done really well,” Austin Tucker says. “Our homebuilder customers appreciate that they can get both a roll-off and restroom. It really keeps it simple for them.”

The division employs four technicians. Equipment is from PolyJohn Enterprises: 575 standard and high-rise portable restrooms (in the same yellow as their roll-off containers), nine wheelchair-accessible units and 27 hand-wash stations, as well as a number of holding tanks. The company also has a four-station restroom trailer from A Restroom Trailer Co. (ART Co.).

Construction accounts for about 85% of the company’s portable sanitation work, much of which is residential — large condominium projects along the beach, for example. The company’s goal over the next year or two is to increase its event business through advertising and social media and by developing more contacts in the industry. Events include the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival, Theater on the Bluff and a lot of weddings. About 20 of the event units have Walex Products solar lights, which are a hit with customers and users.

The company has five vacuum trucks — Ford F‑550s (2016-19) built out by Lane’s Vacuum Tank with 950-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater steel tanks and Masport pumps. They prefer smaller trucks because it’s easier to find drivers and the trucks are more maneuverable on job sites. The company uses Walex deodorant products. Disposal is at a few nearby treatment plants, but Tucker says it’s getting harder across the state to find plants that will accept portable restroom waste.

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS

The company strives for professionalism in an industry that sometimes suffers with a negative image, Tucker says. Employees work on how they look, how they behave and how they speak.

“The drivers wear uniforms,” Tucker says. “They’re not out there in just a T-shirt or a plain white shirt. They wear a polo shirt with our logo on it. They look nice, and they’re trained to be professional. Our goal is that if we put a restroom on your job site, then that builder’s customer should be OK to go in there and use it. It’s something we pride ourselves on.”

New hires go through a week of training, spending time in the office and on the road with other drivers, so right from the beginning, they understand company expectations about professionalism and the best way to service units.

The Tuckers insist units be referred to as portable restrooms in an effort to change the negative image the industry. When people use another term, company personnel gently correct them. This philosophy began on the roll-off side: They do not refer to roll-off containers as cans, for the same reasons.

CUSTOM SOFTWARE

Bobby Tucker created all the company’s software, including programs for accounting, inventory, routing and dispatch. Drivers use iPads. In the morning, after doing a pretrip inspection, they log in and enter the mileage of the truck. That then goes into the maintenance program so Ronnie Malec, shop foreman, can stay on top of oil changes and general maintenance. Drivers then pull up their schedule for the day. Google Maps and Apple Maps are integrated into the software to assist in finding their jobs. When they click “done” on a job, the office is immediately notified.

“That way we’re assured they’re actually servicing each one,” Austin Tucker says. “It also helps us to efficiently dispatch them and make sure routes are being managed efficiently. It pulls in the latitude and longitude and shows how far the driver was from that job site, so if a customer calls and says the guy never came, we can tell them he was there or we can say, ‘You’re right. Let’s see what happened.’” The software shows truck locations at all times, so if an emergency comes up, it’s easy to identify who should be sent.

PROMOTING FROM WITHIN

Tucker says they’re very competitive in the labor market. They pay fairly, provide health and dental benefits to employees and their families, and have a good reputation as an employer. A number of employees have been with them for a long time.

New hires often come by way of employees bringing in family members or making referrals.

“I’ve had a lot of that, and that’s been extremely successful,” Tucker says. “It works well because when you’ve got one brother in the roll-off and another one in the restroom, it seems like there’s a little bit more accountability for each of them — not wanting to mess it up for the other guy.”

They tend to get their roll-off drivers — a higher-paying position requiring a commercial driver’s license — from the portable sanitation division. It’s a great way to provide new hires an opportunity to get on board, work with the company and then move up, Tucker says.

GOING HOME EVERY DAY

Tucker admits it’s not necessarily glamorous working in the sanitation industry, but he appreciates that he can work alongside his dad and his family.

“We all work hard, we get here early and work together to get the job done. At the same time, I get to go home and be with my family,” he says. “And it’s really rewarding seeing these guys have the same opportunity.

“Some of our roll-off drivers were driving over the road and weren’t able to be home with their families. It’s a lifestyle change for them and their kids,” he continues. “Being able to hire guys like that and see it make a difference in their lives is important to me and probably the most rewarding part of the job.”  



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