Forest Septic Environmental Through the Generations

A third-generation family-owned business, Forest Septic Environmental has been around so long that no one knows exactly what year it started. “A friend of mine saw an ad in a 1959 phonebook for my grandfather’s business, called Forest Septic Tank Services then, which boasted more than 25 years of experience,” says Jody Forest, owner of Forest Septic Environmental. “So, we know that it has been around since at least 1934.

“Babe was my grandfather’s nickname, and we know that he started the business during the depression when they had outhouses. My dad remembers going out when he was little to dip out the outhouses with buckets and dump into 55-gallon drums. The drums were in a pick-up truck, which they would dump into the DeMoines River.”

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Of course, they don’t do that anymore. In fact, because of regulations that made it too cost prohibitive to dispose of waste, Forest built a dewatering facility. “Our county, Polk, encompasses Des Moines and is our main county,” says Forest. “They banned land application in 2007, putting our backs against the wall, because that was how we disposed. We ended up building a $500,000 dewatering facility so that we can legally dispose of the waste. It’s Iowa’s first licensed, privately-owed dewatering facility.

“We spun it off into its own business called Accurate Dewatering Service in 2009. It’s just awesome. We chose the most economical equipment and use a dewatering box instead of a press. We also made the decision to open it up to our competition so that they would have a place to dump.”

Regulations Fuel Business

Regulations have helped the business in other ways. “The state requires homeowners to have a yearly service contract for systems with open discharge,” says Forest. “Right now we have 600 service contracts that we sample twice per year to make sure the water is clean.”

“Those homes have small windows of time to get that service completed. Our biggest challenge is getting to our service contracts and keeping up with our pumping part of our business at the same time. My sons, Tyler and Tory, and a new young guy, Zach Whitehill, are working as our service providers driving three service vans to maintain the contracts.”

In Des Moines, they passed a city ordinance that requires restaurants to pump their grease traps when they are 25 percent full or every three months, whichever comes first. “It has created a lot of work for us,” says Forest. “We’ve always pumped grease traps, but since the ordinance passed, our business has tripled. We have one truck doing grease every day.

“The state also passed a law in 2009 that requires a septic system to be inspected and pumped before a home is sold. Since the law went into effect, we’ve done more than 1,500 inspections through a lot of different realtors.”


“Advanced Pump and Equipment out of Iowa builds most of our trucks for us. They do a great job. We also bought a semi truck that has a 6,300-gallon tank with vacuum and a blower pump.”

The folks at Forest Septic Environmental also use four tandem 4,000 gallon trucks to get the job done. Two are standard vacuum units and two have blower pumps rather than rotary vanes. “The blower pumps were a big deal because they’re $25,000 pumps. Those pumps can pump deeper and the blower can run for hours. They’re indestructible and have done a very good job.

“Every 10 years, peat moss systems have to be replaced, and we do a lot of them. The moss is just a dry waste and the blower pumps will pump a drier material, which is another reason we purchased them.”

Forest also owns three mini-excavators that they pull behind pump trucks on a trailer for inspections or any other time they need to expose the septic system. “We use our big $80,000 excavator for doing big repair jobs.”

Saving Time and Money

“We use the semi truck and three 7,000-gallon trailers that we station in different counties so that we are hauling the waste in bulk, which helps us with our fuel costs,” says Forest.

Forest has also implemented a time-saving policy–each of his service guys answers their own calls and schedules their own service. “I answered the phone for all of our customers on my cell phone,” says Forest. “I ended up having two cell phones going and it was just too much. Now, I delegate all calls to our three main employees. We have trustworthy employees that were willing to take it on. They get the call, take the service, and turn in the paperwork.

“Chris Mershon has been with me for about 15 years. Brian Rinard has been here for 13 years, and Mike Gaskin has been here three. They all do a great job. I think it says something about the kind of employees I have. I also have two sons working for me. My oldest, Tyler, does all of our grease. He answers and schedules his calls too.”

Forest also recently hired Rick Rogers, a licensed electrician and plumber. “I’ve known Rick for years and he has more than 25 years of experience. He does all of our service repairs and drives the service van. He’s great and does all of his own scheduling too.”
Service with a Smile
“We handle two million gallons of septic waste per year,” says Forest. “We’ve had rapid growth the last five years and went from one million to two million gallons in the last six years. We’ve done it by providing great customer service.

“Seventy percent of our customers are septic residential pumping. We like helping homeowners, because it’s more personable. The other 30 percent of our business is commercial. Our company exists because of our customers.”

Forest Septic Environmental has nine employees to help provide that personal touch. Forest’s wife, Penny and her sister, Spring, work in the office while Rinard, Mershon, Gaskin, Rogers, Tyler, Tory, and Whitehill all work directly with the customers. Craig Thompson also works part-time driving their semi truck.

“We’re much more than a septic tank service,” says Forest. “That’s why we changed our name. We educate our customers about their systems, and we take the time to do so rather than pumping their tank and running.”

Between the fabulous customer service and Iowa’s regulations, Forest Septic Environmental should have the business to be around for generations to come.

For more information, please visit

Story by Jennifer Taylor

Please follow and like us:

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Follow by Email