*As seen in The Logbook. Issue 4.
Recently exhibiting at the annual Glamping Show, Plastic Solutions is a leading UK manufacturer of plastic tanks for the capture and holding of toilet waste from outdoor structures. While this includes toilet blocks and site welfare facilities, it is the company’s involvement in the glamping industry, especially glamping pods, shepherd huts and log cabins that is gaining a lot of attention.
While glamping can be a very personal and bespoke enterprise, there is one area where standards cannot be lowered and that is how a site handles waste. Not every site is able to lay down reliable plumbing to and from the individual sites and so rely on storage tanks. Not only do these have to be completely reliable they also need to be discrete as to not disrupt the “atmosphere” promised by glamping.
We spoke with Plastic Solutions General Manager Jonathan Trelfa regarding how his business has provided solutions to this essential and delicate matter.
“We specialise in providing products and services for an area that no-one really wants to talk about,” he says, “But site owners have to understand and control this particular part of their business and this is where we come into it, offering expertise and pioneering products that have been robustly tested.”
Specialising foremost in the provision of tanks from 500 to 30,000 litres for above and below ground, the company also provides a range of complementary products. These include sewage lifting stations, waste pumps, rainwater harvesting tanks, sewage treatment plants, cesspool tanks and water pressurisation and pumping solutions. This “one stop shop” opportunity has proven very popular with site owners seeking to compartmentalise the essentials for their set up.
“One of our major product lines is the market-leading Tuff Tank,” he says, “This is an above ground, flat, low-profile waste holding tank perfectly suited to the glamping environment because of its ease of use and low environmental impact.”
THE TUFFEST TANK.
The glamping industry is one driven by unique experiences in unique locations. With every site striving to offer something that other sites do not, the challenges that site owners will be facing in the future in terms of their waste management infrastructure are only going to be more interesting. So, in a way, you could say that Plastic Solutions’ latest offering is actively encouraging this by being by far the most reliable tank of its kind on the market.
Jonathan explains, “The Tuff Tank started its life in the construction industry, collecting waste from toilet blocks, showers and sinks on the huge number of construction sites where no mains sewage facilities are available.”
“And in actual fact,” he continues, “Whether you have a building site toilet or a glamping hut with an inbuilt toilet and shower, the same “waste product” is ultimately created either by users or by guests. Even if there is no convenient mains sewage line nearby, you still have to control and collect the waste.”
Cue the Tuff Tank. This 500, 750 and 1000-gallon plastic holding tank and its smaller counterpart, the Mini Tuff Tank (160 gallons) are constructed from robust polyethylene and are easy to deliver and position.
Their flexible, low profile and lightweight design means they are ideally suited to the changing needs of the leisure sector. As sites grow and units are moved the Tuff Tank can move easily with them without risk of damage. At just 110 kilograms when empty, four men can easily move it.
Now on the fourth generation, Tuff Tanks were designed to meet the ever-changing needs of portable sanitation suppliers, caravanners, campers and glampers. They are a more reliable, easier-to-move and cost-effective alternative to the old-fashioned steel waste tanks. Unlike steel, this product will not corrode and will always appear fresh and hygienic. In addition, this product features inbuilt lifting handles and access hatches and ports which are fully sealable against odours and spillage.
LEADING BY EXPERIENCE.
Jonathan Trelfa is a veteran of the portable sanitation industry and has over 25 years-experience under his belt. He was the managing director of Europe between 1991-2008 for a toilet manufacturing company and a manufacturer of ground and surface water monitoring equipment from 2011-2014. It was March 2014 when he decided to take up the challenge of driving Plastic Solutions forward.
“I’ve known the business owners since I advised and helped them start their toilet rental business in 1994,” he says, “That business is still running successfully today. The company was one of my favourite customers up to the point I left that industry in 2008. When the owners were looking to fill the GM role they asked me to come along for a cup of coffee and a chat: I was looking to do something different at that time. It seemed like a very good fit for both sides.”
They started in 2010 and made steady progress until 2014 at which point they developed a range of new products and brought in a focussed business and marketing plan. Since then they have tripled their turnover in the construction industry. It was soon after that they recognized that there are a wide range of industries and sectors that could benefit from their services and products.
In 2017, as they were outgrowing their old site they purchased new premises outright and after some essential refurbishment moved in early in 2018. According to Jonathan their growth plans have also meant the laying on of extra production tooling to keep up with demand and the employment of further staff in sales and warehousing.
Jonathan has kept in contact with both old employers and customers over the years. Fondly remembering when his first employer took him out at 4am on a freezing German morning to go clean a toilet as part of his induction!
“It didn’t hurt the friendship,” he remarks, “After all, if you’re going to advise customers on how to get involved in portable toilets, you need to be able to talk about all aspects of the business. You have to be genuine and committed to selling ethically.”
On the technology front Plastic Solutions have invested heavily over the last year and a half in software to aid their sales and customer support staff. Jonathan explains that throughout his working life he’s always been agitated if a ringing phone wasn’t picked up within three rings. To make this possible he created tools and the environment so that their staff don’t get bogged down by too much tech.
“It’s also clear that we are in the age where customers most readily search the internet for what they want rather than Yellow Pages,” he says, “So we’ve made our websites clear and simple to use. And, on the trending topics front, we’ve recognised the need for a suite of products for the glamping industry: a suite of products that our competitors didn’t really consider.”
THE REAL SERVICES BEHIND PLASTIC SOLUTIONS.
Even with Tuff Tank being released and their other products leaving the shelves as fast as they can be put on them, when asked about what the core services of Plastic Solutions were, Jonathan didn’t even mention the pioneering products he has become so well associated with.
“It’s four things,” he explains, “Our strong customer service, our complete understanding of the industry, excellent business ethics and going the extra mile for our customers.”
Glamping guests are spending their hard-earned money to stay “off grid” but expect to have the same comforts as they would at home. Any site owner knows the importance of hot and cold running water, a shower and flushing toilets. And how important it is that guests be completely oblivious to where things go after the flush.
Glampsan (T.A Plastic Solutions) may only cover one part of many needed for the complete glamping experience, but it is one of the most important parts and they apply themselves to it fully.
ADDRESS: Merchant’s Way, Aldridge, West Midlands WS9 8SW:
PHONE: 0800 334 5742 or +44 (0)1922 716725