A South Texas family launches a micro business with high hopes for serving construction and special-event customers.
Texas is a big state filled with big companies and big ideas. Thankfully, David Wells Jr. and his daughter, Jordan Garcia, have a bunch of those big ideas.
Garcia, the young manager of Texas Gold Skiddos in Rockport, a coastal town northeast of Corpus Christi, launched the portable restroom and septic pumping business last year with her father to accompany his longtime business of installing septic systems and setting construction pilings. But already they hope their big ideas will launch the “skiddos” business to an even bigger profile in their little corner of the Lone Star State.
Garcia’s father has more than 25 years in the business, but until recently, he never included portable restrooms in his offerings — that is until Garcia, 33, returned home.
Wells, 59, said he had discussed adding restrooms about 20 years ago, but the timing was never right. But when Garcia moved back to Texas recently with her husband, John, who is in the U.S. Coast Guard, it was the perfect opportunity for her to restart her career and help her father build the new business. Garcia’s desire for a career of her own, coupled with her father’s connections in the construction industry, made for a perfect storm to start Texas Gold Skiddos, which started with 28 yellow PolyJohn Enterprises units. They’ve recently purchased 57 standard and five Comfort XL PolyJohn units, with plans to add more.
At this point, the fleet of vehicles is as modest as the restroom inventory. Trucks include a 1982 International with a 1,200-gallon waste/50-gallon freshwater steel tank and a 2000 Ford F-350 with KeeVac Industries aluminum slide-in unit (350-gallon waste/145-gallon freshwater) with a Conde (Westmoor) pump.
While Wells is the owner of the company, Garcia manages the daily logistics as if it were her own. “We are looking into the process of restructuring the ownership to make this a family-owned business,” says Garcia.
1. WORKING WITH AN UNUSUAL BUSINESS NAME
Not familiar with a “skiddo?” Many outside the southern coastal area may not be. In fact, a Google search of the term only calls up a Pokémon character. But no worries for Texas Gold Skiddos (pronounced kiddo with an S in front of it). “It’s kind of a common vernacular term (for portable restrooms) used loosely down here,” says Garcia. “My dad, sister and I all sat around the table one day and threw a few names around.”
“I was just going to name it Dave’s Portables,” says Wells, who admitted, “They outvoted me.” They added “Texas Gold” to honor their home state. “Everybody in Texas has so much state pride. We thought adding ‘Texas’ would be a great opportunity for marketing and logo creation,” says Garcia, who bought the yellow PolyJohn units to match the name. Their logo and website reinforces that yellow color and name — adding to powerful corporate recognition.
2. MAKING THE BUSINESS FIT HER LIFE
Garcia is pleased to be working in the family business, although her father lets her run Texas Gold Skiddos pretty much on her own; he’s busy enough with his septic installing/repair business. Plus, she adds, “He has been wanting to transition. He is 59 and he’s kind of trying to move toward a less labor-intensive work for himself. He also sets pilings for houses, which utilizes lots of heavy equipment and is labor-intensive. This (division) was a part of him trying to transition to a less physical line of work.”
With her husband in the military, Garcia is used to moving around a lot. So when she came back this time, she was a stay-at-home mom to her 4-year-old son when her father resurrected the portable restroom idea.
With a business degree from the University of Texas-Austin, Garcia says, “Real estate is my passion, but building a business and marketing are equally exciting and challenging. I really like the idea of growing a business. Working for my dad allows me a lot of flexibility, which comes in handy with my husband’s unpredictable schedule.”
For Garcia, keeping the business viable as well as efficient and convenient was essential. “I wondered, how can I make this business portable so I don’t have to be in the office 40 hours a week? I’m always on duty, but I’m not always in the office.” Fortunately, her marketing acumen has allowed her to do just that. “Technology allows us to forward phones, deposit checks, create marketing campaigns and coordinate schedules from a laptop and cellphone that goes wherever I go.”
3. DIRECTING THE MARKETING BUDGET
With her background, Garcia has enjoyed using her business and marketing skills to grow Texas Gold Skiddos. “How do we take it to grow it and make it more efficient? It’s been a couple of steps,” she explains. Garcia started by creating a website (www.texasgoldskiddos.com), updating and maintaining social media pages and doing some targeted direct mail. While her father has a well-known name and established business, Garcia realizes that expanding their reach is wise.
“With my dad being in the construction industry, we had a lot of construction contacts,” she notes, adding that she and her father never miss an opportunity to mention the restroom business to septic customers. And he offers a builders’ discount with a package deal. “A lot of them were happy with that. We were able to provide a couple different services,” Garcia says. And while they started and still have just 28 units, they are able to rent those frequently through established contracts.
Garcia gets calls every day from outlets wanting her to spend money on advertising and social media marketing, but she knows her priorities well. “The one thing that I am saving up for that I think is really valuable is having our F-350 truck wrapped with our logo and services,” she says. “It’s constantly driving around, and people see it. I think that’s our next marketing effort.”
4. FINDING NEWCONSTRUCTION CUSTOMERS
Her father’s contacts have obviously helped grow the business, but Garcia is not shy about touting the company as well.
“I take every opportunity to talk about (the business),” she says, noting that grass-roots marketing — such as stopping at fireworks stands and other small venues to drop off her business card — has been a part of building the business.
Garcia is always “on the lookout for construction sites that are just starting.” For example, she says, if she sees brush being cleared and doesn’t see a restroom on site, she’ll stop by, chat briefly about her offerings and leave her business card. “You just have to play it by ear. The majority of the times I stop and if there’s not someone already there (providing restrooms), they do call us.” That face-to-face contact is essential, Garcia believes.
“There are some really long-standing (competitors) in the industry. … They’re very well known,” says Jordan. “That is our biggest challenge, breaking into the market.” Right now, it’s about telling contractors to try something new, she adds. “I don’t want to take all the business — I’m happy just trying to take a little of it.”
5. EXPANDING INTO SPECIAL EVENTS
Garcia and Wells would like to expand into the booming special-events market. But to do that, they will most likely need to invest in more units. For example, the annual Rockport-Fulton Oysterfest is a big deal, but it would require at least 75 units — three times as many as Texas Gold Skiddos now owns.
“There are a lot of markets, lot of events … wine festivals, fishing tournaments. At any given time, there could be 10 to 15 events going on throughout the Coastal Bend area,” she says. “There’s room for growth, we just have to make connections and give them superior service.”
To that end, Garcia and Wells are planning to purchase more units (including ADA units) and hand-wash stations. “It is specifically to grow the business in the special-events arena, and you get a lot of exposure,” she recognizes. “Just one event could be 10,000 to 15,000 people. Some of the smaller events may help us get there.”