Profile: Golden Rule Sewer Service & Golden Rule Sanitation

When Golden Rule Sewer Service measures its success, it needn’t look any further than its own name and the principle that’s guided the company from Day One: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

“Whether you break even or make money, you always have to do it right,” states Jon Hayes, son of the company’s founder.

As long as they’re following that one simple rule, the Hayes family knows they will meet their goals in their business and in their personal lives. They’ve had ample proof of that in the decades since Ralph Hayes began opening drains back in 1968.

The elder Hayes passed away last summer at eighty-two years old, after a remarkable seventeen years living under a diagnosis of prostate cancer. His family feels that Ralph’s strong Christian beliefs, careful eating and “living right” allowed him to continue to be active for nearly two decades, without chemotherapy or other extreme medical intervention, right to the end.

“He chose to take care of things in a natural, spiritual way,” says Jon. At Ralph’s funeral, “people all around honored my dad. He had an outstanding reputation.”

That reputation is shared by Jon, who is president of a side company, Golden Rule Sanitation, that focuses on jetting, tank cleaning and portable toilet rentals, and it is shared by the forty-two-year-old, family-owned and -operated Golden Rule Sewer Services—run, not surprisingly, by the matriarch of the family, Wallis Hayes, who is Ralph’s widow and Jon’s mother.

As president of the sewer services company, Wallis Hayes oversees daily operations, just as she has since the beginning. That has made the transition smooth. Felisha Curry, Wallis’s daughter and Jon’s sister, is Secretary-Treasurer, and a son-in-law, Stephen Mitchell, is Assistant Vice President and heads the excavation and vactor services.

“It’s a tight company,” Wallis Hayes notes. For its small size, however, “we do a big-volume business.”

Golden Rule Sanitation
Because of his dad’s health and prognosis, Jon returned to Indiana in 1994. “It ended up being the best thing we did,” he says. “My dad was supposed to transition things to me, but then his health was restored to him.”

Instead of transitioning the business, in 1999, the Hayeses split the business, giving the jetting and septic tank and grease trap cleaning to Golden Rule Sanitation. In 2005, Jon added portable toilet and sink rentals, a sideline that allows his company to provide more value to its sanitation customers. Today, about eighty percent of Golden Rule Sanitation’s work is jetting and tank cleaning, and the rest is rentals of the 150 portable toilet units.

“Our regular clients sustain the business, especially in the winter,” Jon says. Besides his roster of long-time and new residential, commercial and industrial customers, Golden Rule provides emergency and maintenance cleaning services to small municipalities throughout the year.

With the economic downturn, perhaps the greatest challenge has been the new regulations that require companies to take septic and grease to a sewage treatment plant instead of disposing of it through land application.

“Although our costs have increased greatly,” he says, “the percentage we feel we can pass along to our customers has been very small.”

Although the Hayeses are making an effort to separate the sewer services and sanitation businesses, the two companies operate very closely. In fact, Wallis Hayes looks ahead to when Jon will be president over both.

Meanwhile, however, Jon has his formula for going forward: “We just keep working hard and trust that fulfilling our customers’ expectations better than anyone else—and doing it consistently, time after time—will mean we are still here when others have gone away.”

For more information, visit or call 260.747.2910.

Story by Anne Biggs

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