For Washington’s Randy-Kan, 'Teamwork Makes the Dream Work'

A cohesive crew, environmental concern and solid community connections pay off big for PROs Randy Bauer and Karrie Henricksen

For Washington’s Randy-Kan, 'Teamwork Makes the Dream Work'

Randy-Kan Portable Restrooms employees gather in the company yard. From left are Stephanie Gilliland, Loren Armstrong, Josh Corso, Sania Smith, Alea Battin, Curtis Nelson and Todd Morgan. (Photos by Stephen Brashear) 

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Kitsap County, Washington, located on a peninsula just across Puget Sound from Seattle and just east of Olympic National Park, is the kind of place where you’d expect the population to have a higher-than-average concern for the environment. Randy-Kan Portable Restrooms, which serves contractors, sports facilities and events in the area, reflects that concern in its operations.

The company is operated by Randy Bauer and Karrie Henricksen who have been life partners as well as business partners for more than 16 years and who share the environmental concerns of local residents.

“In our particular market, there are a lot of environmentally conscious people,” Bauer says.

“People like it when you are eco-friendly over here,” Henricksen says, explaining why Randy-Kan uses “earth-friendly” deodorizers and cleaning products. “It’s really beneficial for the schools, parks and us to know that, if for some reason there is a tip-over or something like that, the waste isn’t going to be harmful.”

Randy-Kan usesSafe-T-Fresh products from Satellite | PolyPortables.

“A lot of people love the eco-friendly part of it, not to mention that portable restrooms do save a lot of water,” Henricksen says. “Even if you didn’t use eco-friendly products, just the fact that they are using a portable restroom rather than wasting water is a big benefit to the community as well as the environment.”

The focus on environmental concern and being connected to the community is paying off for Randy-Kan. The company has been growing rapidly, more than doubling in size since 2014. The company has close to 1,000 portable restrooms, most of them Global models with some Access, Liberty and Freedom units, all from Satellite | PolyPortables. Bauer estimated that Randy-Kan has more than 35 ADA-compliant portable restrooms. It also has 30-40 hand-wash stations from PolyJohn (Bravo, Applause) and Satellite | PolyPortables (Tag Along and Breeze).

ALWAYS A SANITIZER

The company also has a four-unit luxury restroom trailer from Satellite Suites. Bauer says it has been a good addition to the inventory, as it gets rented almost every weekend in the summer. Sometimes it is booked a year in advance.

Randy-Kan makes hand cleaning easy for people using their toilets. The company puts hand sanitizers in every unit. It even has the tag line: “Be wise, sanitize” on its website homepage. “We’re serious about sanitation,” Henricksen says. “We tend to have the sanitizers in the units because it’s something that sets us apart. We try to consistently have that in our units.”

Another strategy of Randy-Kan is the company’s strict focus on portable restrooms. It does not offer fencing, storage containers, temporary offices or other associated products many PROs provide.

“We just try to focus on one thing and try to be the best at what we do,” Bauer says. “We concentrate on doing one thing well, instead of two things three-quarters of the way.”

Bauer, who spent summer vacations on the Kitsap Peninsula as a child, has lived there more than 27 years. He had a septic pumping business there before he started Randy-Kan. When he saw a large company was buying up the portable restroom operators in the area, he thought the community should have a local provider of portable restrooms, and he decided he’d be the one.

He started the company with 25 Satellite | PolyPortables restrooms (Global) and an Erickson Tank & Pump 150-gallon waste and 75-gallon freshwater slide-in unit. He still has the Erickson slide-in, although not on the same truck, but he no longer has the septic pumping truck. “We don’t do any of that kind of work anymore,” Bauer says.

THE RIGHT FLEET

In addition to a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup with the Erickson slide-in, Randy-Kan operates five other service vehicles: 2016 and 2018 Ram 5500 trucks with 650-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater steel tanks and Masport pumps from TruckXpress; a 2015 Ram 4500 with a 550-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater tank and Masport pump from TruckXpress; a 2013 Hino 338 with a 1,500-gallon waste and 500-gallon freshwater Progress Tank aluminum tank and Masport pump; and a 2007 GMC 4500 with a 700-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater steel tank and Masport pump from Abernethy Welding.

The company also has been using a 10-unit Liquid Waste Industries transport trailer and a Super Mongo Mover hauler (Deal Assoc.) for moving units around the yard and at event sites. Bauer says Randy-Kan typically loads the Liquid Waste Industries trailer with restroom units and puts the hand-wash stations inside the restrooms.

Randy-Kan also has 6,000 gallons of storage tanks underground at its yard in Poulsbo. There is only one wastewater treatment plant in the area, so the extra storage is handy when time is tight. “We try to keep up with our own waste hauling, but we work with haulers who will gladly help us out if we need it. We have a great network of people,” Bauer says.

The area Randy-Kan serves has been growing rapidly. Part of the reason is that it is becoming a bedroom community for Seattle, which is a ferry ride away across the Puget Sound. “It’s thriving now. It’s really developing fast,” Bauer says. “It’s bad for traffic, but good for business.”

The traffic is starting to become an issue for Randy-Kan. Given the geography of the area, with many inlets carving up the peninsula, it can take a long time to get to places that are not very far away as the crow flies but require long drives around the water. Traffic is already slowing down some routine trips.

“We’ve noticed that sometimes it takes half an hour longer compared to a year ago,” Bauer says. “We can only imagine that it will get worse.”

GETTING THE NAME OUT

A lot of the marketing for Randy-Kan is achieved by participating in community events. The company has some signs and it has a website, but there is also a personal touch to the marketing.

“We live in this community, and we just try to do our part,” Bauer says. “We do things for a lot of youth sports, a lot of cleanups here and there and fundraisers for the parks. Every little donation can help all of us.”

Randy-Kan has portable restrooms at many youth sports venues. Sometimes if there is a big tournament at a site, Randy-Kan will provide extra service to help out the organizers. The company also helps the local humane society and the Kathleen Sutton Fund, a local organization that provides transportation for women with cancer, among other organizations.

“We just do some little things that we think personally we’d like to help with, just doing our part that we like to do as Randy and Karrie. It seems to pay great dividends,” Bauer says.

Henricksen, who runs the office and handles the marketing, says building the company’s reputation is worthwhile. “The loyalty comes back tenfold. Our customers just know what the good product is and the right people to call, and our phone just rings,” she says.

“We buy advertising signs at various places, such as the fairgrounds, sports fields and riding arenas for the rodeo people,” Bauer adds. “And there are a lot of Randy-Kans on the side of the road.”

Cleanliness is another priority. “We have really clean restrooms, and customers know what they get,” Bauer says. “We’re not the cheapest. We have a fair price, and we do the best job. That’s what we have to offer in our industry, doing the best customer service that we can.”

BUSY EVENT SEASON

The goal of providing top-notch customer service gets tested in the summer when the calendar fills up with the special events. Randy-Kan serves numerous festivals such as Viking Fest in Poulsbo, the Bridge Blast and the Blackberry Festival in Bremerton, Whaling Days in Silverdale and the biggest one, the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede in Bremerton.

The fair is a five-day event, with a day of setup ahead of it and a day of work afterward retrieving the restrooms and hand-wash stations. “The fair means servicing 50-plus units every day, sometimes twice a day,” Bauer says. “When you throw that on top of our everyday schedules, it takes really good people.”

Bauer and Henricksen estimate special events, including company picnics, parties, weddings and the local festivals, constitute about 40 percent of the business. Construction sites and youth sports venues fill out the rest.

Most of the time, Randy-Kan services routes with one person on a truck, unless someone is being trained, but the routine changes for the big special festivals.

“On special events, we’ll have multiple trucks,” Bauer says. “For the county fair, we’ll have two people on the truck just because it makes it go faster. They like to get done quicker so they can do their daily route. None of us want to work all the time, but we try really hard to help each other out so that not one or two people are just grinding it out and no one else is around.”

HIRING AND RETENTION

Growth of the business has required significant growth in the staff. The company has seven employees in addition to the two owners.

“It seems like it’s a constant training mission,” Bauer says. “We’ve had some good luck with some really key people. It’s not a career people are seeking out all the time, but if you get the right people and you pay them a good, livable wage like you should, they have a tendency to realize that the portable toilet business isn’t all that bad.”

Bauer says Randy-Kan’s wages are higher than the national average for portable restroom operators, and the company offers health insurance and other benefits.

What Bauer and Henricksen look for in their staff members is the ability to solve problems for their customers.

“The portable restroom industry is challenging,” Henricksen says. “It’s how you deal with the issues and how you deal with the people that makes you successful. Problems do come up. We try to be very accommodating and deal with our emergency situations quickly.”

“There are a lot of difficult days. We try to minimize the flat tires,” Bauer says, indicating that he means personnel or customer relations problems more than actual flat tires. “The best days are when everything goes smoothly, every driver comes back with a smile on his face and there are no truck issues.”


Keeping the team together

As Randy-Kan Portable Restrooms grew steadily — more than doubling in the last four years — recruiting and retaining good employees is critical to success.

Paying good wages is part of the recipe, but it’s not the only ingredient.

“We pay better than the national average for portable restroom operators, which helps us get decent people in the door,” says Randy Bauer, one of the owners of Randy-Kan. “We try to offer medical benefits for our staff, although they don’t always choose to take it.”

The benefit that seems to matter most to his staff, Bauer says, is the company’s ability to accommodate workers’ family needs in scheduling.

“We try to work around our key workers’ family things they need to take care of,” Bauer says. “That seems to be a real big thing in today’s workforce. Being able to make workarounds so your employees have the ability to do what they need to if they have kids. If they need to take time for personal business, we make time that they can do that. Working with your people on the points of the schedule where everybody needs a little flexibility sometimes really helps keep them around.”

Bauer still regularly drives a service route.

“I get in the truck and I work with my guys,” he says. “It’s good for your staff to know you are right there in the trench with them. They appreciate knowing that we’re not just owners who sit back and watch what goes on. We’re actually involved in our business.”

Karrie Henricksen, Bauer’s partner, puts it this way: “Teamwork makes the dream work.”



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