These PROs Get a Kick out of Rumbling Vintage Cars and Rockabilly Music

The team at Wisconsin’s Crockett Septic gets in the way-back machine to serve the fun-fueled Symco Weekender hot rod event.

These PROs Get a Kick out of Rumbling Vintage Cars and Rockabilly Music

Hot rods are one of the main attractions at the Symco Hotrod & Kustom Weekender event in Wisconsin. (Photos by Cory Dellenbach)

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George Van Stedum, owner of Crockett Septic, has been in the portable restroom business since 2015 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. The team includes his partner Lori Leggett, office manager and part-time driver; Todd Ross, septic driver; restroom service drivers Douglas Kelley, Jacob Kelley and Mason Wirtz, who also handles shop maintenance; Kathy Trzebiatowski, appointment scheduling; Kazmira Kasten, part-time seasonal cleaning and event setup; and Brian Dye, part-time invoice mailing. For the Symco Hotrod & Kustom Weekender, Van Stedum was on location for the duration, assisted by Leggett. They also received help from Leggett’s son-in-law, Josh Linzmeier.


Leggett and Van Stedum worked together at a warehouse when a family friend called Leggett asking if she had the phone number for a Realtor to sell Crockett Septic. Van Stedum recognized an opportunity and bought the company. After learning the ropes of the septic business, they expanded with portable restrooms. They attended the 2015 Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show and talked with vendors and business owners to learn as much as they could. Within a year, they purchased two portable restroom companies. Crockett Septic has seven trucks for the portable restroom business and more than 500 portable restrooms, 50 hand-wash units and other equipment. The business covers six counties, with “the unwritten rule that all the big events are at least an hour away from the shop,” Van Stedum jokes.


One of their first events was the 42nd Annual North Central Wisconsin Antique Steam & Gas Engine Show in 2015. After the event, they were contacted by a Union Thresheree Club member to discuss servicing their 50th anniversary in Symco in 2017. John Spence, event promoter for the Symco Weekender held in the same location, noticed the restrooms at the Thresheree. Spence asked Van Stedum to contact him, and they contracted to provide restrooms and services in 2018.


In its 12th year, the Symco Weekender, held Aug. 9-10, 2019, filled up the nearly 100-acre site with 600 cars and trucks from the 1920s to 1960s, as well as about 140 vintage campers among more than 700 campsites filled along the Little Wolf River that runs through the grounds. Besides hot rods to check out, the site has a man-made midcentury Americana town including a post office, hair salon, working blacksmith and print shops, along with the world-famous Unionville Saloon that was built in 1896. There were food vendors and events for families during the day and adult activities in the evening — flamethrowing cars and burnouts for gearheads, as well as minibike races and parade. A pinup contest dictates ’40s and ’50s wear only, and campers typically wear swimming wear from that era as they enjoy activities on the river. Honky-tonk and rockabilly music played from Thursday, when campers pulled in, through Saturday evening.


Crockett Septic already had 87 restrooms and hand-wash stations from Satellite | PolyPortables and T.S.F. on site for the Thresheree event a few weeks prior to the Symco Weekender. Van Stedum met with Spence before the car event to work out details and restroom placement. Based on increased attendance in 2018, 11 additional units were added in 2019 for a total of 111 portable restrooms. The increase was merited, as the number of full campsites increased by 30% from the year before. More than 10,000 people attended the 2019 Symco hot rod event.

Crockett Septic delivered 23 add-itional restrooms, a handicapped unit and seven more sinks to accommodate the car show. They went through the units already on site to make sure they were fresh and clean before the event. In addition to standard restrooms, Crockett Septic set up two TJ-KID units from T.S.F., one Satellite | PolyPortables family changing station unit and nine hand-wash stations from T.S.F. The units were delivered with a 2007 Hino 268A truck with a 1,000-gallon waste and 350-gallon freshwater flat Crescent tank and Masport pump that can also haul 10 units.

“We set up 16 banks of restrooms,” Van Stedum says. All were lighted with either solar-powered LED J-Lights (J&J Portable Sanitation Products) or battery-powered LED motion lights (Satellite | PolyPortables). They set up 46 units for the campground area.


Van Stedum arrived on Thursday. Leggett and Linzmeier were there for part of the weekend to help. For servicing, they used a 1997 Ford F-800 with a 1,600-gallon waste and 400-gallon freshwater tank from Abernethy Welding & Repair (the truck was built out by Crescent Tank), as well as a 2017 Ram 5500 with a 650-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater tank and Generac Mobile pressure washer built out by Imperial Industries. Pumps are from Masport and Conde (Westmoor).

Van Stedum, Leggett and Linzmeier serviced the restrooms starting at 3:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Two additional rounds were made on Saturday to add paper and check on the restrooms. They also checked the T.S.F. hand-wash station to begin each service day.

“They see us come through with backpacks, so everything is stocked and they appreciate the extra effort,” Van Stedum says. He and Leggett use their camper for a place to sleep during the event. They park on the edge of the campground next to their 2007 Sterling, carrying a 2,500-gallon Imperial Industries steel tank with a National Vacuum Equipment pump. “The 2,500-gallon truck is my backup and transfer truck,” Van Stedum says. It comes in handy for events to provide storage for restroom waste.

The year before, the three trucks had enough capacity for the weekend without going to a treatment plant. But that was not the case in 2019. Van Stedum unloaded 1,000 gallons on Friday, and all the trucks were full again after the Saturday early morning service.

Being onsite helps keep him on top of issues that come up, Van Stedum says. For example, one bank of restrooms was getting a lot of use, so he moved over a couple of reinforcements. He arrived early enough to accommodate vendors and volunteers setting up and to set up and clean eight restrooms that tipped over during a windstorm Wednesday night.


Having a septic truck onsite is not always well-received because of possible odors. Crockett Septic uses cherry-scented pump oil from J&J to mask odors. They used the same cherry scent from Truex squeeze bottles and J&J deodorants and J-Disks in all the restrooms. Another feature attendees appreciate is the LED motion lights installed in every restroom; they also make it easier for workers cleaning restrooms at night.


On Sunday afternoon, the trucks were driven to the treatment plant to be emptied before pumping the restrooms on site. With three transport trailers (homemade or McKee Technologies - Explorer Trailers) and the Hino truck to haul up to 48 units, some of the restrooms were returned to Crockett Septic’s shop on Monday. Others were pumped, cleaned and moved directly to another site for another nearby threshing event a couple weeks later. “We had everything cleared out by midweek,” Van Stedum says, with two crews working during the day and more help at night.  


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