Creating a Superior Fleet

Washington PRO is transitioning fleet of service trucks from diesel to gas engines
Creating a Superior Fleet
TPI Owner Jeff Wilson.

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Jeff Wilson has seen many equipment improvements in the portable sanitation industry in recent years. The owner of TPI Portable Toilets and Septic Tank Services in Longview, Washington, notes enhancements such as better restrooms, routing software and deodorants that help improve customer service.

Wilson identifies just one equipment issue that has been more challenging in the past decade: portable restroom service trucks. He says truck manufacturers have had a difficult time adapting engines to cleaner emissions standards and it shows in performance.

“Truck manufacturers have to be compliant, but it seems to have produced more fragile diesel engines,” Wilson says. “They’re struggling to stay running. They seem to be plagued with computer and emissions control-related problems. We’ve found that we have a hard time keeping new diesel trucks from breaking down on the road.”

Wilson’s solution has been to convert some of his fleet from diesel to gasoline and to buy used when possible. He runs mostly Fords, with Dodge, International and Freightliner brands also in the fleet, and says gasoline engines have been both the most reliable and cost-effective option for his midsized trucks used for restroom service.

“It’s an old wives’ tale that diesel is superior,” he says. “The gasoline engines have a fraction of the computers and emissions controls needed to keep the engines running. We’re getting 3 more miles per gallon per gasoline truck compared to the diesel engines. And gasoline engines love to idle, while diesel engines do not. Our toilet truck drivers do a lot of idling. They go to a job and the truck just sits there while they clean the toilet. And you’re hurting a diesel engine when you do that. The gasoline engines are helping us be profitable.”

To easily react to problems that may arise with any given truck, Wilson prefers using slide-in tanks. He uses tanks from Progress Tank, KeeVac Industries, Brenner Tank and FlowMark Vacuum Trucks. About 80 percent of the truck fleet carries slide-in units that TPI Portables installs in-house. FlowMark builds the company’s fixed-tank rigs.

“The slide-in tanks have really been a blessing to the portable toilet industry,” he says. “You’re no longer at the mercy of a chassis or a computer that breaks down. You can simply unbolt that slide-in and put it on another truck and still meet your customers’ needs. It’s always going to be about meeting the customers’ needs. If you can’t meet those, somebody else will.”

Read more about TPI's fleet, including two World War II DUKW boats, in a full profile. 


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