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This Custer Septic Service portable toilet is set up at Challis city park as construction of a new restroom, sidewalk and parking area is underway.

With the coronavirus negatively affecting many businesses, one industry is seeing increased revenue.

“Everybody’s got to go to the bathroom, still,” Philip Fredrickson, owner of Artesian Clean Septic and Pottys in Clayton, said. Fredrickson reported since the pandemic began he has seen increased business across the board, from renting hand-washing stations to pumping RVs.

While he has 300 portable toilets to rent, his yard has been consistently bare this year.

Custer Septic Service owners Fred and Sue Hill said they’ve similarly been busy since spring. Fred said the bump comes from multiple sources, but many of them lead back to the coronavirus.

Because so many people decided to camp this summer, the Hills said they received a lot of work pumping campground toilets and RVs. Fred also said he had more residential work than usual, due to the fact locals were spending more time at home, which can put a strain on a septic tank.

Sue said they were initially worried the summer would start slow. The pandemic canceled many large, public events where they usually supplied hand-washing stations and portable toilets, she said.

However, both the Hills and Fredrickson said events being canceled didn’t slow the need for easily deployable toilets. Fredrickson said they’ve mostly been rented for construction and agriculture, but he said he’s dropped many off at rodeos, county fairs and other outdoor events.

While agricultural workers won’t be using portable toilets much in the coming cold months, Fredrickson said home construction will keep local septic servicers busy. A lot of people are building homes in the area, which means porta potties for the construction workers and septic inspections for the homeowners.

Fred Hill said the construction increase could be another result of the coronavirus. More people are moving out of heavily populated areas and building homes in rural, open communities, he said.

Fred said he isn’t sure if business will stay brisk through winter. While the Hills hired more workers to keep pace with the demand, Fred said he’s unsure the pandemic will keep work volume up. They have plans to purchase new equipment, but Fred said he and his wife want to wait before cashing in their good fortune.

“Who knows what will happen next year with the pandemic and reopening,” he said. “I’m just kind of waiting.”

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