78-Year-Old Portable Restroom Operator Welcomes Retirement

Retiree has seen many changes during his time in the portable sanitation industry: “We’re modern now.”
78-Year-Old Portable Restroom Operator Welcomes Retirement
Dale Downs, right, is shown with grandson Taran, left, and son Ken. Three generations have joined forces to help build the Port-A-Jon portable restroom company.

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Dale Downs has worked hard to help build Port-A-Jon Inc., a portable restroom operation serving areas in Texas and Louisiana. Now 78 years young, he has been with the company for 13 years, after retiring for the first time — at age 65 — from ranching in 2001. And now he faces his second retirement — from the portable toilet industry. 

Owned and operated by John and Gloria Harper and family, Port-A-Jon operates 30 portable restroom service trucks, serving primarily industrial customers in an area called the ArkLaTex. 

In a press release from the company, Harper called Downs an “exemplary leader.” The company said it appreciates his faith, loyalty and work ethic.

While employed at the portable restroom company, Downs managed the repair of portable toilets, trailers and other equipment. And he admits that the industry has gone through many transformations in the past 13 years. 

“There’s really been change,” he says. “We have invented all kinds of things to move toilets. And we’re modern now.” 

In 2008, Downs’ son Kenneth joined the Port-A-Jon team as fleet manager and chief mechanic. Kenneth made the switch because he wanted to work with his dad. 

Then in 2009, grandson Taran became the assistant fleet manager specializing in maintenance records at Port-a-Jon. Over the years, three generations have joined forces to help build the portable restroom company. 

Downs says the three men have enjoyed working with each other. “We get along very well,” he says. 

While some people might dread having to travel for a job, Downs says he appreciates being able to work across the company’s 170-mile service territory.

“I actually enjoy getting out and locating where we take our toilets and seeing new country,” he says. 

In his retirement, Downs plans to play with a flock of chickens he recently purchased and pursue a woodworking hobby.   

Not only has Downs made an impact on the portable sanitation industry, but the industry has also made a lasting impression on him.  

He says: “I’ve really enjoyed my time in the industry.”

If you’re getting ready to retire, make sure you’re prepared. Here’s some advice to help you make a smooth transition into retirement: www.pumper.com/editorial/2013/06/the_great_escape.  


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