While small businesses everywhere are struggling, one service is still flush with customers.
More people are staying at home, and that means more people are using their own toilets rather than the facilities at work or school. Charles Peloni, owner of Peloni’s Pumping and Portable Toilets, said that while certain aspects of his business are down, he’s getting more calls than ever from people who need their septic tanks pumped.
“I’m having to turn people away for pump-outs,” Peloni said.
Overall, Peloni’s business is taking in about the same revenue it did pre-pandemic, he said.
In addition to installing and maintaining septic tanks, his company rents out portable toilets for events. With fewer birthday bashes and cookouts to drive demand, that cash stream has dried out.
But the upswing in demand for septic tank pump outs has offset the decreases in revenue elsewhere, he said.
Pump outs make up about 30 percent of his revenue, Peloni said. Prior to the pandemic, he was pumping 15 to 20 tanks per week. Now it’s up to 30 a week, and that’s about all he can handle.
“I’m booked full until this coming Friday,” Peloni said.
Other companies in town are booked, too, a woman told Peloni while trying to schedule an appointment last week.
“It’s just depressing when you have to tell four or five people a day that you can’t get to them,” Peloni said.
Even with the influx in pump-outs, Peloni said his business is having to adapt with the times, Peloni said.
One of his five employees, an office worker, had to be laid off.
“I’m hoping I can bring her back soon,” he said.
Another septic tank businessman, Rocky Ford, said his company, A&B Construction, has gone from doing 10 to 15 pump outs per week to about 20 or 25. But most of his money comes from new construction and repairs, said Ford, who also serves as a Columbia County commissioner.
“There’s really not a whole lot of money in pump outs,” he said.
The economic impact of the pandemic has yet to really materialize as far as his business is concerned, Ford said, but he expects a 40 to 50 percent reduction in overall revenue once the worst hits.
“The slowdown is about to catch up with us,” Ford said.