The MVP of Portable Sanitation: The Service Truck

Isuzu trucks from FMI drive productivity and profits for PortaPros
The MVP of Portable Sanitation: The Service Truck

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When asked to name the most valuable piece of equipment owned by PortaPros in Nampa, Idaho, Marcus Hunter, the company’s general manager, answers without hesitation: the company’s Isuzu service vehicles.

The company owns five of the cab-over style vacuum trucks, all outfitted by FMI Truck Sales & Service with FMI’s WorkMate tanks and Conde pumps (Westmoor Ltd.). Three of the trucks are configured to carry 750 gallons of waste/350 gallons of freshwater and two are slide-in units that carry 300 gallons of waste/225 gallons of freshwater.

“Each vehicle provides a combo application,” Hunter explains. “They can go out and service a route or go out as a pickup and delivery vehicle. Each truck has a liftgate that allows us to secure toilets to the bed of the truck. Three of the trucks can hold up to six restrooms and the other two can carry up to 10.”

Hunter says the company did thorough research before deciding to invest in the Isuzus. A key factor: The trucks get better fuel economy than the previous fleet — about 9 mpg compared to about 5 mpg.

“We wanted to minimize expenses and maximize efficiencies and capabilities,” Hunter explains. “We drive our vehicles a couple hundred thousand miles a year. We also track our vehicles’ operating expenses on a cost-per-mile basis and find that, on average, the Isuzu costs about 70 cents per mile to operate versus more than $1 a mile for larger (medium-duty) trucks. So if you’re driving 200,000 miles a year, that adds up in a hurry.”

In addition, the cab-over design’s smaller wheelbase and turning radius offers greater maneuverability. “That small turning radius helps for the simple fact that when you’re picking up or delivering or servicing restrooms, you often find yourself in close quarters,” he says. “We want maneuverability to avoid bumping into things and doing damage.”

Under PortaPros’ asset-management plan, the company replaces vehicles about every five years. Hunter says that research shows the cost curve on maintaining pump trucks increases after five years, plus warranties expire after that, too. But he lauds the Isuzus for their reliability.

“They’re great vehicles,” he says. “They’re easy to use … and they’re less strenuous on our drivers because they don’t have to climb up into them. They also don’t have air brakes, which have a different level of sensitivity – they’re easy to lock up immediately and require a steeper learning curve to use. And the trucks provide greater visibility too – you can see everything.”

Read more about PortaPros in a full profile. 


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