*As seen in The Logbook
Regular exhibitors at the annual Glamping Show, Glampsan ( Plastic Solutions (Aldridge) Limited) 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, one of the challenges, where standards cannot be lowered, is how a site handles effluent waste. Not every site is able to lay down reliable sewage mains to and from the individual glamping units. So, one solution is to rely on waste collection tanks. Such collection tanks need to be completely reliable and also discrete as to not disrupt the “atmosphere” promised by glamping.
We spoke with Glampsan’s General Manager, Jonathan Trelfa, regarding how his business has provided solutions to this essential and delicate matter.
“Our niche is operating in a particular area of hospitality that owners and hosts want to work efficiently, reliably and most importantly, discreetly in the background,” he says, “They are not looking for reviews on how good their waste management is, they’re looking instead for solutions that will mean it’s never mentioned at all.”
Whether it is a five star hotel or a unique cliffside-treehouse-glamping site there is never a time when an owner wants to hear that somethings gone wrong with this part of their business. Eliminating this fear by providing robustly tested products that have endured some of the most peculiar challenges that glamping has thrown at them, is what Glampsan does.
Glampsan specialises foremost in the provision of tanks from 160 to 1000-gallons and more, both for above and below ground. They also provide a range of complementary products and these include sewage lifting stations, waste pumps, rainwater harvesting tanks, sewage treatment plants, septic tanks and water pressurisation and pumping solutions.
Effectively they are a “one stop shop” opportunity for dealing with effluent waste that has proven very popular with glamping and hospitality site business owners seeking and straightforward waste sanitation solutions for their unique set up.
“One of our major product lines is the market-leading Flat Tank,” Jonathan says, “This is an above ground, flat, low-profile waste holding tank that is perfectly suited to the glamping environment. It is easy to use and durable with a low environmental impact. It can also be easily located under or nearby any glamping unit.”
THE MOST ROBUSTLY TESTED TANKS IN THE UNIVERSE (PROBABLY)
The glamping industry is driven by unique experiences in unique locations. Every site is striving to offer something ‘bespoke and different’ that other sites do not.
“At Glampsan,” Jonathan says, “We believe that the challenges site owners will be facing in the future in terms of their waste management infrastructure are only going to get more interesting and more complex. In no uncertain terms we are encouraging this, and perhaps even laying down a challenge with our innovative Flat Tank.”
Jonathan goes on to point out, “Considering that the Flat Tank originally started its life in the construction industry. Collecting waste from toilet blocks, showers and sinks for a high number of construction sites where no permanent sewage facilities are available, when we say it’s been ‘robustly’ tested… we really do mean it.”
TUFFEST VS FLATTEST
The big-brother company, Plastic Solutions (Aldridge) Ltd, supplies this sector in particular and here the tanks are appropriately known as Tuff Tanks. They’re similar products to those offered through the Glampsan division, but with subtly different applications.
Ultimately, whether you have a building site toilet or a glamping hut with an inbuilt toilet and shower, the same ‘waste product’ is produced and needs to be controlled and collected effectively.
And, for glamping and hospitality there is the Flat Tank. This 500, 750 and 1000-gallon plastic effluent holding tank and its smaller counterpart, the Mini Tuff Tank (160 gallons) are constructed from robust and recyclable 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 Flat Tank can be easily transported with them without risk of damage, for example, when empty four men can easily move one.
Now on the fourth generation, Flat Tanks are ideal 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 old-fashioned steel waste tanks. Contrary to steel, this product will not corrode and will always appear fresh and hygienic. In addition, Jonathan says, “Our Flat Tanks feature inbuilt lifting handles, access hatches and ports, all of which are fully sealable against odours and spillage.”
THE LATEST PRODUCTS
Flat Tanks are an effective and simple solution to dealing with effluent waste for start-up glamping sites and many hospitality venues too. Earlier, Jonathan talked about future needs becoming more complex, “One of the problems that glamping owners sometimes have to overcome is how to deal with and remove waste from glamping units located in remote fields. Sometimes perhaps a hundred metres or more from any vehicle access point and an additional problem, “ he adds, “Is how to deal with collecting and removing waste that has to go uphill. The solution to both of these problems is a lifting station.”
Due to demand, they have recently added lifting stations which are plastic tank structures with in-built pumping units and a 240v electric supply to their range. This not only extends the usefulness of their products but enables them to offer a more sophisticated option for their glamping customers.
With regards to innovation, Jonathan continues, “Some of our glamping customers want to install environmentally sustainable composting toilets. Whilst this option is not for everyone, they are growing in popularity and acceptance and we are able to supply composting toilets of the same reliability.”
Jonathan predicts that in the long term, the glamping industry will of course inevitably mature. With it, even more sophisticated solutions will become more and more popular.
“For example, we think that more underground septic tanks and soak-away systems will be an obvious solution for maturing glamping sites,” he says, “For these sites another option could also be to invest in a complete mini sewage treatment system. However, these are substantial investments.”
Long term, Glampsan will most likely add these to their product portfolio. But in the meantime, Jonathan believes that there is sufficient ‘growing room’ to supply their customers with simpler and hence more cost effective solutions.
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 for a toilet manufacturing company between 1991-2008, and from 2011-2014 was the MD for a manufacturer of ground and surface water monitoring equipment. It was March 2014 when he decided to take up the challenge of driving forward Plastic Solutions (Aldridge) Ltd.
“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 and 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 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.
Two years ago Jonathan started the Glampsan brand, which, as was already mentioned, is a division of Plastic Solutions. From 2019 the the Glampsan strategy has been to grow by making use of all available tools. This included heavy investment into the website as well as the development of a strong social media strategy.
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 cumbersome tech.
THE REAL DEAL BEHIND GLAMPSAN
Jonathan says, that even though they sell stacks of their Flat Tanks and ancillary products, what really defines both Glampsan and Plastic Solutions (Aldridge) Ltd is their focus on core service excellence for which they have become very well known.
“It takes four things,” he explains, “Our strong customer service, our complete understanding of the industry, excellent business ethics and always 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 value of hot and cold running water, a shower and working toilets. Also, they are acutely aware of how important it is that guests be completely oblivious to where things go afterwards.
“Glampsan may only cover a few of the solutions needed for the overall glamping experience,” Jonathan admits, “But, they are the most important parts and hosts are no doubt relieved that we apply ourselves fully to this job.”
ADDRESS: Merchant’s Way, Aldridge, West Midlands WS9 8SW:
PHONE: 0800 334 5742 or +44 (0)1922 716725