2003 Fall/Winter Volume No. 2

They Serviced the Largest Paid-Attendance Rock Concert of All Time... On 7 Weeks Notice!

Despite the amazing logistical difficulties of pulling off such an event on short notice, all agreed it went off without a hitch.

Last summer when the Pope visited Toronto, the team of Stewart Chantler and Kevin Ford serviced the largest outdoor event in history. This summer they may have topped that by handling portable facilities for half-a-million people on short notice.

As you may have heard, Toronto had been under a kind of international quarantine ever since last March when they were hit by an outbreak of SARS, (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The once vibrant tourist economy of Toronto dwindled to a trickle, and estimates of the economic losses were over a billion dollars. Members of all levels of Canadian government (Federal, Provincial and Municipal) decided that the largest rock and roll show in history would be a great way to announce that Toronto was back.

So when the World Health Organization officially removed Toronto from the list of places affected by SARS on July 2, the Canadian Government announced "SARS-Stock", a massive, 12-hour rock concert hosted by Dan Akroyd and featuring 40 bands including the Guess Who, Rush, Justin Timberlake, AC/DC and headlined by the Rolling Stones.

Like the Pope's visit, Downsview Park in Toronto was selected as the site for the event; and Stewart Chantler of Chantler's Portable Toilets and Kevin Ford of Nature's Call, both of Toronto, were asked to service the event with portable restrooms. While they had been contacted about the possibility of the event in early spring, official word that it was a "go" didn't come down until seven weeks prior to the event.

The two service companies estimated the event would require 3,500 units. From their own resources and from many other service companies throughout Ontario, they were able to organize a coalition that would service all the units and supply 2,000. Rama Plastics and PolyJohn supplied 1,516 new units as well as 10 Comfort Inns, and 550 sinks.

Margaret Keech, Managing Director of Rama Plastics Inc. (RPI), PolyJohn's Canadian sister corporation created a battle plan similar to the one they used the previous year, where customers who bought the new units would get the rental fees for the SARS-Stock Concert deducted from the cost of the units.

The problem was that this time they had to make the plan work a lot faster. It involved major logistics with the assembly and delivery schedule. The plan was to deliver the units to Downsview and place them on the site in one move.

"The experience with the Papal visit was an excellent training for SARS-Stock," said Margaret Keech. "Without the wonderful co-operation and teamwork between all the companies involved neither event would have been possible."

The SARS-Stock Concert arrived at the height of the regular season, and the needs of all customers had to be addressed, without any break in service or sales. All available crews were put on assembly detail, with a quota of at least 50 units per day necessary to meet the demand.

For the Pope's visit, RPI had four months in which to assemble over 5000 of the 7000 units required for the event, and used a 60,000 square foot airplane hangar provided for the preparation. For this event; however, the 6 weeks of available time was not enough to assemble the units off-site, so 1,000 units were assembled at RPI (and 500 at Polyjohn).

Fortunately, RPI keeps a large stock of assembled units in stock for their customers during the summer. Shipping in 48 foot and 53 foot semis began as soon as the site was available. Each truck contained 24 to 28 units. There were 73 truckloads in all, including handwash sinks, holding tanks, and Comfort Inns for the disabled. Twenty loads came from PolyJohn's Whiting plant to Downsview (600 miles) and the remainder from RPI (100 miles).

A complicated schedule was set up which ensured at least one trailer at RPI, one on the road, and one at Downsview on a constant rotating basis. Bill Keech, (Margaret's son), worked with Stewart Chantler and Kevin Ford at Downsview to unload and place all the assembled units. Bill was also responsible for getting them all removed from the site in less than two weeks after the event. Some of the borrowed units were returned by the next weekend!

Meanwhile, 2000 units from Chantler, Ford, and other operators were arriving at Downsview at the same time. The plan was to have allowed all the units to be placed within the 3-week period from July 4th to July 26th.

Despite the amazing logistical difficulties of pulling off such an event on short notice, all agreed it went off without a hitch. And while the Rolling Stones are being credited with saving Toronto in the national press, Canadians should realize they couldn't have done it without the two teams of Chantler and Ford, and Rama Plastics and PolyJohn. Many thanks are also due to all the other service companies, trucking companies and Polyjohn customers who were on site with their own units, their equipment and their staff.

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