A Passion for the Industry Reaps Rewards

Volunteers of the Year Flay and Glenda Anthony share their passion for the portable sanitation industry and hope others embrace it, too
A Passion for the Industry Reaps Rewards
Flay and Glenda Anthony, accepting the PSAI Volunteer of the Year Award named in their honor.

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When Flay and Glenda Anthony’s names were called recently at the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI) convention, the North Carolina couple thought they had misheard. Not only were they named PSAI Volunteers of the Year, but the award had also been named in their honor: the Flay and Glenda Anthony Volunteer of the Year Award.

“It was quite a surprise,” says Flay. “We didn’t even know there was going to be an award. Volunteering has always been a big thing in our lives.”

Karleen Kos, PSAI executive director, adds, “Part of the surprise was creating the award and naming it after them.

“When we thought about creating a Volunteer of the Year award, it was Flay and Glenda’s model that we thought of – the sort of dedication we want to recognize and hold up as a shining example of selflessness, dedication and grace. Flay and Glenda’s tireless devotion to the PSAI this year, and over many years, has set a bar most of us will never reach.”

Flay, 68, is the retired former owner of Porta-John of the Piedmont in North Carolina. In addition to working in portable sanitation for more than 30 years, he and his wife have been staunch supporters of the industry and longtime volunteers for the PSAI.

“It’s quite an honor,” says Glenda. “When (the PSAI) did not have a director, Flay stepped in; he just enjoyed doing it.”

And Glenda herself, a former elementary school teacher, was right by Flay’s side at most events. “It meant a lot to me to get to know these people in the industry; they really have become like family.”

“It’s an industry where we have an opportunity to serve the public and an opportunity to let people know we fill a need,” adds Flay. “We make great friends of our customers and other people in the industry.”

A 30-year passion

After previously working in insurance, Flay began his career in portable sanitation in 1984, when he was hired by Ned Carpenter at Porta-John; he later became a partner in the firm and worked until his retirement in 2010.

It was also in the 1980s that he began volunteering for PSAI. He served several terms on the Board of Directors, has served as president and, in 2009, received the prestigious Andy Gump Award.

In addition to his service on the board, Flay helped created the initial standards, prep course and exam for the PSAI certification program in 1992. Prior to that, there was some written training, but no formal certification program for service technicians. “The Board of Directors felt that since we were working to be leaders in the industry that we should establish a certification program,” Flay recalls.

“I’ve always felt that being able to improve our service technicians was very important and a very critical part of what we do, so I’ve stayed with that,” Flay says. “We’re in the process of taking certification to the next level (accreditation).”

Today, although he is retired (and admits to enjoying fishing, traveling and visiting his three grandchildren), he still works about 20 hours a week volunteering as the PSAI’s director of event operations, working on the logistics of the conventions. As Glenda notes, “He’s with his ‘full-time’ part-time volunteer job.”

For Flay, it boils down to simply having a passion for the industry, one he acquired early on. He recalls attending PSAI conventions in the 1980s, hearing others speak, listening to the passion of some of the leaders. “Now when I go to these conventions,” he says, “I see some who have been going for 30-some years. (The newcomers) think we’re the old guys!”

Flay notes that his success was based on thinking “on a large scale but acting on a local scale. … You’re always thinking of how to grow the business, reach the next level. But on a day-to-day basis, you have to act locally, establish that customer base, deliver on what you say you can deliver on.

“It’s a very tough thing to do, but you kind of have to have a passion for it; you have to really want to make it happen,” he adds. “You develop a real passion for wanting the people to be happy and be satisfied and find that from within.”

Glenda adds that making staff feel that passion is important as well, getting buy-in at all levels.

Igniting that passion in today’s generation is a bit of a different game, she admits. “They’re bringing an awareness to their age group,” she says. “This puts a whole new light on sanitation in this age group.”

Flay adds that while staying connected 30 years ago meant person-to-person contact, today’s millennials rely on social media.

“I think they have good work ethics, but the way they go about building their passion … they’re mobile; that’s their way to get the word out, to get their passion out,” he observes. “It’s just an evolution. As long as they have (passion) instilled in themselves, then however they pass it on … it continues.”

Flay and Glenda have successfully instilled their passion in their son and daughter, both of whom work in the industry. Son Ryan Anthony is a representative for Satellite Industries, and their daughter Katie Potter works for Porta-John of the Piedmont, now part of United Site Services. 

With an upcoming trip to tour Alaska, Flay and Glenda – who have been married 46 years – show no signs of slowing down. And remaining active in the industry is a priority for them.

“We’re such a misunderstood industry,” says Flay. “We have to let (the public) know that we provide quality equipment with quality service.”

And that, he says, is a work in progress. “The PSAI is working daily to help improve that image and get the word out.”

For Flay, in a nutshell, it’s a no-brainer. “If you sit back and try to do everything the old way, you’re never going to grow, you’re never going to move forward.

“You have to move forward, embrace technology, embrace change and be willing to move forward. Don’t give up the ideas that got you where you are, but there are new ways of communicating those ideas.” 


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