Painted Potties and Promoting Portable Sanitation

A-OK Waste Services raised awareness for its services by helping an Earth Day event. What can you do to give back to your hometown and reap good publicity?

Painted Potties and Promoting Portable Sanitation

Participants in the Macon, Georgia, Earth Day event decorate old fiberglass restrooms donated by A-OK Waste Services. (Photos courtesy of A-OK Waste Services)

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As business development coordinator for A-OK Waste Services, Naomi Rosan is always on the lookout for new ways to market portable restroom and trash collection services in Macon, Georgia. So when she saw an opportunity to partner with a popular local Earth Day event, she was immediately on board.

After all, what better way to promote portable sanitation and other waste services than during an event celebrating a cleaner environment? It seemed like a natural fit for the growing 12-year-old company.

“I think there is value in having a conversation with our customers about what trash is, how we can reduce it, and what is the right and wrong thing to do with it,” Rosan says. “Education is so important in any business, and in the waste business, people aren’t even thinking about it. Once it’s removed from their sight, it’s out of their minds.”

Rosan called the city of Macon and Mercer University, and the three entities partnered to decorate portable restrooms and display the painted potties during a popular farmers market at Tattnall Square Park in Macon. Hundreds of visitors viewed the painted restrooms and voted for their favorite in the first event of its kind in the city.


A-OK contributed three fiberglass restrooms that have been taken out of service and allowed a group of Mercer students and A-OK employees to paint the restrooms in the company yard. A base coat of white paint was added first, and then the artists followed a theme of “save the species,” writing environmental messages and festooning the outer walls with plastic animal and food figures, as well as different types of trash.

“You don’t really expect to see port-a-potties as something that is going to send a message or be aesthetically pleasing,” Mercer student Casey Colquitt tells a TV reporter from WMAZ-TV 13 who covered the Earth Day event. Rosan says local TV coverage enabled the students to spread their environmental message and the restroom company to increase its visibility in the community.

The Earth Day event fits nicely with a new approach to marketing the A-OK brand, Rosan says. She has also created a Talking Trash brochure that is handed out to prospective new customers. A-OK is involved in helping events like a fun run in nearby Warner Robins and a recent traveling tiny-house display in a Macon city park. The company utilizes social media to its goals for donated restrooms and service.

“I developed the (painted restrooms) event as a way to get new business in all areas. Visibility in the community is really key,” Rosan says. “It fosters goodwill, and I don’t see a downside at all.”

Earth Day drew hundreds of visitors, and Rosan was able to strike up a positive portable sanitation conversation with many people throughout the day. And the painted restrooms will continue to serve the company. Rosan expects to feature them on the company’s Christmas parade float this year.

And the Earth Day event will return next year; Rosan promises it will be bigger and better. And don’t worry about A-OK running out of restrooms to paint. She says there are enough of the retired fiberglass units to have the decorating contest for another 5-6 years.


Why should your company benefit from getting involved in nonprofit events or local charity work? Consider these benefits:

Expand your customer demographic

Various reports and surveys show that the millennial generation (now at ages 23 to 38) are much more likely to do business with a company that demonstrates social responsibility. Some estimates are that 70% to 85% of young people factor this into their purchasing decisions. These are up-and-coming customers for your portable sanitation products and some sources say they represent more than $2 trillion in annual spending. If you can go after more of that potential business by doing good deeds, it’s a win-win situation for your company.

Build employee morale

Recent studies indicate that employees feel better about working for companies that demonstrate they care about their community. They respect employers who have a positive corporate culture and put a priority on charitable efforts. More and more companies are encouraging volunteer time off so employees can work for groups like Habitat for Humanity to help build a home for a family in need.

These projects make for a great team-building experience for your crews. When your employees work together on a charitable project, they get to know and respect each other. And hopefully that will transfer to the workplace, where they will look for ways to help each other reach your company goals. Also, when employees respect the company and feel better about their work, they are more likely to stick around, which will help with retention.

Network with other giving companies

A natural synergy happens when local companies get together on a community project. When you provide portable restrooms for a fun run or a community-building project, you meet like-minded contractors and event coordinators who might have a need for your services in the future. And they will pass along their positive experience with you to others in the community. I’m a firm believer that good deeds come back to you in positive ways and these charitable business partnerships make it happen.

Enhance your reputation

It’s undeniable that portable sanitation companies fight an uphill battle when it comes to reputation building. Like it or not, the fact is the general public doesn’t always have a good impression of portable restrooms. Oh, it’s not your fault. You can keep your equipment sparkling clean; folks are still going to remember the worst portable restroom experience they’ve had. However, you can start to overcome that by placing more of your clean and fresh units in highly visible locations and by helping out events at churches, sporting events and charitable gatherings. When a nonprofit calls, give them your newest and best units and keep an attendant handy to impress and amaze users.

Make your community a better place

You are proud of your company and the neighbors you serve. Go above and beyond with your giving to show you appreciate the community that contributes to your success in so many ways. Think about the customers who keep coming back to hire you. Remember the good employees who come from your community and work for your continued success. Your contributions help make your hometown a better place to live. And improved quality of life attracts businesses and new families to your community, which in turn helps you place more restrooms … and the cycle continues.

Take the tax deductions

While it shouldn’t be your first reason for helping the community, you should take advantage of tax deductions for the donations you make. Consider the dollars you save as the cherry on top of the sundae of charitable giving. And if you can say yes to most of the requests you get for free service to nonprofit events, your tax savings can be significant. 


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