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PROs explain where their revenue streams will flow as the economy recovers

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The upheaval caused by the economic recession has reverberated through every level of life in America. With that in mind, we decided to do a little informal temperature-taking on the portable sanitation industry. Everyone has been affected, but not in the same way, and not with equal intensity.

Here, a few portable sanitation contractors predict where the strength of their businesses will be in the coming months.

Through Nor-Kam Vacuum Pumping Service, Paul Thorpe provides portable sanitation to oil and gas production fields.

“Oil and gas operations are here one minute and gone the next,” Thorpe explains. “They may be at a hole for two weeks or a month, and then they’re on to the next one. But there’s still a lot of activity around those wells once they move on, and that’s where our long-term business is.”

In this short term, though, he’s concentrating on having sanitation solutions “we can take in, leave on a location, clean it out and then take it on to the next location.” Sounds like business as usual, right? Except that in this land of brutal cold and punishing conditions, there is no such thing. Every job is a challenge.

Now, Thorpe’s mission is to find portable restroom trailers with heat and hot, running water that can be rapidly re-deployed as needed, while staying fully functional and comfortable.

He’s already got his sights set on his next challenge as well. He says environmental concerns will be the driving force behind Nor-Kam’s evolution. He’s getting out in front of the issue by attending educational seminars and reading up on current and pending legislation. He’s also making the rounds of industry trade shows to familiarize himself with products and equipment that will help him remain in compliance and maybe even take the green lead in his region.

“This year, we’re focusing on succeeding in renting restroom trailers,” says Kathy Wild of her business that provides portable restrooms. Delo already has 8-foot and 14-foot restroom trailers, and is looking to add to its fleet.

“We’re going for the high-end events,” Wild explains, “like concerts, weddings and others that have more profit potential.” She feels they must provide accommodations of similarly high quality and appeal to reach farther into that market.

Competition isn’t an issue for Delo Drain & Septic, even though the area supports three other PROs, “We all get along great!” Wild says. “Nobody’s into the high-end restrooms in our area. We used to rent out the individual units, but we sold that part of the business.” Now, she says, it’s a comfortable division of the market between providers. They call each other when there’s a customer need one can’t serve.


With his company still in its infancy, Josh Dugger says his main challenge is basic enough: “trying to develop new business and beat the competition.” Doo-Dah’s driver and field technician, Dylan Louhery, explains why the company launched at the height of the recession in 2009.

“We’ve done construction our whole lives, and every construction site has a portable restroom. We know all these construction guys, and we have the trucks. So we figured, why not get our foot in the door and do what we can?”

To help in their quest for new revenue streams, they’ve watched what the competition is charging and how pricing is fluctuating. They’ve also attended industry trade shows to see what new equipment and products are available to help differentiate their offerings from the competition.

Both men have a clear grasp on the concept that to stay profitable in this increasingly competitive field they’ll need to constantly and consistently innovate.


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