Barry Gump, retired president of Andy Gump Temporary Site Services, died April 17 at age 74 at his home in Valencia.
Over his quarter century as a business owner and community leader in the Santa Clarita Valley, Gump built a reputation for quiet generosity to numerous local charities, an unstinting work ethic, and an unassuming ability to get things done as a member or, more likely chairman, of numerous boards and committees.
Famous for the tagline “Another … Andy Gump,” the company’s portable restroom units are a common sight across Southern California. The privately held firm also provides solar-powered multi-unit trailers, temporary power and fencing for construction sites, and storage containers. Its growth over 60 year reflected and helped facilitate Southern California’s construction boom.
Barry Gump was born in San Fernando and headed the family company from 1972 until his retirement in 2012 at age 70. The company moved its headquarters to Santa Clarita in 1985, on the heels of the company’s work as a supplier to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, which led to a substantial increase in business.
The Olympic contract “helped us see we needed a bigger storage yard, which led to moving the company to Santa Clarita,” where land was more affordable and the SCV was in the midst of a construction boom, Nancy Gump Melancon told SCVBJ in January 2017. Nancy, Barry and Pati Gump’s daugher, is the third-generation leader of the family-owned company.
Barry Gump succeeded his father, Massena “Andy” Gump, who founded the company in 1956. The company has grown from one storage yard to five across Southern California, in Santa Clarita, North Hollywood, Antelope Valley, Fontana, and San Diego.
From the time the company arrived in Santa Clarita, Barry Gump was an active community leader.
“At charity events, when the emcee would ask for a thousand-dollar check and acknowledge the donor, Andy would walk to the back of the room, write the check and ask that it be anonymous,” said Elizabeth Hopp, Gump’s banker for many years and friend for a quarter century.
“I saw him get angry precisely once in 25 years,” said Hopp, executive vice president and chief banking officer at the Bank of Santa Clarita. It happened during Hopp’s tenure at another local bank (that’s since been absorbed via acquisition) that held the Gumps’ business accounts at the time.
“We made a mistake with the company payroll, which meant that paychecks went out a day late,” Hopp recalled. “We fixed it immediately, apologized, and sent several trays of cookies over to the Andy Gump offices.”
Barry Gump visited the bank the next day. Quietly, he thanked Hopp for the apology and said the cookies were nice. But he but made it clear that having his employees paid late, even by a day, was not acceptable. His employees worked too hard over too many hours for the company to fail to meet its end of the deal and pay them on time, she recalls him telling her.
Barry Gump was a Ford guy, owning a succession of white Ford pickups, and later a Ford Flex, emblazoned with an American flag and bald eagle. The truck, known to some as The Eagle, was a local fixture, often leading the Santa Clarita Fourth of July parade.
“Barry didn’t drink or smoke,” said Tony Watson, general manager of Andy Gump and a colleague since 2005. “So when he’d go to a restaurant that had a bar, he’d tell me, ‘it’s a shame I have to park in back, because everybody knows that truck, and I don’t want to give a wrong impression.’”
“Barry just wanted to help people,” Watson said, recalling an incident during fire season several years ago when firefighters tackling a wildfire requested 125 portable restrooms.
“We were trying to figure out the logistics,” Watson said. “Barry’s response was to say, ‘When the first truck comes in, let me know. I’ll take care of the 125 units.’”
That same fire season, Watson was riding with Gump and listened as Barry answered a series of detailed questions about the capabilities and features of one of the company’s trucks.
“When he got off the phone, I asked him what it was about,” Watson said. Gump’s matter-of-fact reply: “They want to know if we can evacuate a rhinoceros.”
The call was from Shambala, Tippi Hedren’s animal sanctuary in Acton. The fire abated and the evacuation was called off.
Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar knew Barry Gump for more than 25 years, and recalls Gump’s distinctive voice. “I wasn’t surprised to learn that Barry hosted a radio show while he served in the Air Force.” Gump served in the United States Air Force in Europe and on the island of Crete between the Korean and Vietnam wars.
For decades, Kellar said, Gump and his family have been “mainstays of charitable giving in the Santa Clarita Valley. He didn’t know how to say no.”
For years, Gump was the driving force behind the annual holiday tree lighting on the campus of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
“Barry was out there in the bucket truck putting the final light on top of the tree,” said Marlee Lauffer, the hospital’s vice president of marketing and communications and president of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation.
He also delivered a “couple of hundred holiday gift baskets in that big white truck,” Lauffer said. “He followed in the very humble and traditional footsteps of his father,” and did the right thing for it’s own sake, not to get any kind of recognition.
“There’s really not a lot to say about Barry,” said Chris Hoefflin, head of Hoefflin Enterprises and co-founder with his wife Sue and son Michael of the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer. “He was one of those guys who asked you what you needed. Then he did it.”
Portions of this story were published in The Signal on April 17.