Spotlight on S.B. Cox

Family Means No One Gets Left Behind or Forgotten
— David Ogden Stiers

Started in 1963, S.B. Cox is a family-owned company that emphasizes family as it approaches it’s 50th anniversary. S.B. Cox III, known as Barbee, became the sole owner in 2000 and treats everyone like a relative.

“We don’t have titles,” says Lorie Lythgoe. “We know what needs to get done, and we work together to do it, just like a family.”

Lythgoe was hired in 2000 as a pump truck driver and now oversees the pump division. “Barbee is very approachable,” says Lythgoe. “He helps out his employees. In fact that is how I came to the office. As a driver, I became very ill, but Barbee continued to carry my medical insurance while I was out. Our drivers had a fundraiser, which Barbee matched dollar for dollar, to help pay my mortgage. He also created this position for me until I was able to return to driving, but now he likes me here.”

The Richmond, Virginia company is primarily a construction services company, providing demolition, dumpsters, concrete, a construction landfill, two recycling facilities, a stone and mulch yard, as well as portable restrooms. So, when new construction slowed with the economy, Cox pulled everyone together. “He said, ‘Guys, stick with me and keep working hard and I’ll make sure you are still working.’ And, that is what he did,” says Lythgoe.

That philosophy of everyone being family and taking care of each other extends to customers. “We do what we say we are going to do,” says Lythgoe. “You can always talk to a person here even if you get their voice mail, you can opt out and be sent to someone. If we can’t help a customer, then we will find someone who can.”

S.B. Cox moved into the portable restroom business in 1988 as a way to get dumpster business. “A port-a-john is the first thing on a site,” says Lythgoe. “We started with one truck doing delivery and pumping, and grew quickly after that. Now, we have five full-time pump trucks and two delivery trucks, with approximately 1,900 services per week, not including special events.”

For construction sites, they have 850 handwashing units and 600 regular units. OSHA laws require hand washing units in Virginia. “Lots of jobs in the city are tight so we’ll put six toilets and service them 3 times a week to keep them up to OSHA standards.”

They also have crane units and elevator units which are smaller units with wheels to fit in a construction elevator. “In a high rise situation, if you have employees on the 6th floor, but units on the top and bottom floors, then you lose time with them going up and down,” says Lythgoe. “They bring them down at night and we service them.”

Using 400 weekend units from PolyPortables and Satellite, they provide portable restrooms for two major marathons, the two NASCAR races, as well as private parties and weddings. “We do the Richmond Sports backers, the big 10K and 26K,” says Lythgoe. “Last year, we provided 378 toilets for the Monument 10K, a nationally publicized event down Monument Avenue where civil war monuments line the historical street. Then there is a huge party at Monroe Park with live bands.”

Their five pumper trucks work five days a week, some for 10-12 hour days. They are 4700 series Internationals made from Abernathy in North Carolina with 1,000 gallon tanks for waste and 400-gallon tanks for water.

However, an early morning call in February 2009 changed some of the ways S.B. Cox does things. Lythgoe took the call letting her know that there was a fire. “As I came over the 890 bridge, I saw the orange glow and knew it was bad. The whole toilet shed with five trucks, 250 toilets and all of our stock was in flames. The firemen said it was the sweetest smelling fire they had ever been too, and for days it smelled like cherry.”

The trucks had been in the shed to keep the lines from freezing. They used old trucks and other portable restroom companies lent two trucks until they could replace the ones they lost.

“Everyone pulled together to help us get up and running,” says Lythgoe. “I called Abernathy and they had two trucks to us in two days. They weren’t painted red like our trucks usually are, so they ran white for awhile. Virginia Services let use their trucks with no time limit to get us up and running that afternoon. But, we no longer park them in one building.”

“We set up a temp shop on the side of the recycling center and brought in event units,” says Lythgoe. “We lost our drums and everything in the fire and had nothing to mix products. I called PolyPortables, who we get our units from, and they got us dry packs the next day even though we were not using their chemicals at the time. American Paper also stocked us that afternoon.”

The firehoses also slowed the roll-off business because the hoses were everywhere and they couldn’t get their trucks out. With 147 employees, most of them were there that morning to get everything up and running.

In 2006, S.B. Cox went to a routing system. Prior to that, it was done using Excel. “We went with Route Optix out of Canada,” says Lythgoe. “I went to the Pumper show just to find a routing system. Everything that I had seen was just too complicated. It’s working very well and would be lost without it. It’s a common sense and easy system.”

Around the holidays, Cox continues the tradition of giving away bacon to their customers that his dad started years ago. Those customers include cities, counties and various parts of government, as well as construction companies and others. “We hand out bacon to 400-500 customers along with large calendars,” says Lythgoe. “We also give out 70 cases of beef that comes from the Cox farm to our larger customers.” They also give out race tickets to NASCAR to job supervisors.

Employees receive gift certificates to Walmart around the holidays. “But, whenever it spurs him, he gives out hats, knives, and other stuff,” says Lythgoe. “He just shows up with a big box of stuff and hands them out. There is no rhyme or reason, he just gives stuff out.”

Lythgoe is excited about the future. “Things are picking up. We’ve opened a new recycling facility in Yorktown and we’re heading there with our roll-off dumpsters. We are eventually looking to expand our portable restrooms into the area as well.”

With their family approach to business, growing the S.B. Cox family seems inevitable.

Story by Jennifer Taylor


For more information:
S.B. Cox, visit
PolyPortables, visit
Satellite, visit
American Paper, visit
Route Optix, visit
Abernathy Septic Tank Services, call 704-263-2316

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