Forget the Plastic Units. For Luxury Restroom Trailers by Privy Chambers, It’s Go Big or Go Home.

Women-owned Pacific Northwest company delivers high-end restroom trailers and personalized service for weddings, construction projects and film sets

Forget the Plastic Units. For Luxury Restroom Trailers by Privy Chambers, It’s Go Big or Go Home.

Anderson carries water to a JAG Mobile Solutions restroom trailer during a service call.

When Kasey Salvetti and her mother, Julie Herring, planned Salvetti’s wedding, they never anticipated it would lead to starting a business in the portable restroom industry. But the market around Portland, Oregon, and Seattle has proven to be ripe for Luxury Restroom Trailers by Privy Chambers. The focus on thoughtful details, cleanliness and investing in trailer units has allowed the woman majority-owned company to grow from one restroom trailer to 38 trailers in six years.

WEDDING FOCUS

Salvetti and her husband, Joe Salvetti, set their wedding date for Sept. 10, 2011, without realizing it was one of the busiest weekends for weddings and other events in the Portland area. Because the venue was on a friend’s property, they needed to rent restroom facilities. They thought all the quotes for construction-grade trailers were high. They ended up with regular portable restrooms for the guests, and Kasey Salvetti used the bathroom in the home.

Salvetti knew there were other options.

“I knew I could make them beautiful and do a nice job with them,” she says. In 2013, she and her husband, both archeologists, decided to invest in one three-stall trailer to rent on weekends to help pay off student loans. With very little marketing, they covered nine events the first year, doing all the work themselves. They added two two-stall trailers the following year.

By the end of the second year, Kasey was full time in the Luxury Restroom Trailers business. Joe went full time the following year. With Kasey’s mother as part owner, the mother/daughter duo have 51% ownership of the business. In addition to Joe, they took on a fourth partner in 2015. Cliff Porter was retired from other restroom businesses and brings experience and CPA expertise to help with the financial side of the business.

“He is a mentor,” Kasey Salvetti notes, though he was hesitant initially of the trailer niche because of the Pacific Northwest rainy, cool weather and short season, as well as the durability of trailers with wooden components. Despite the climate, couples who want weddings in the region are not deterred and demand has continued to grow. Trailer manufacturers have modified designs to use wood sparingly so trailers hold up better in the wet climate.

“We consider ourselves to be in the event industry,” Salvetti says. “Lately our summers have been warmer, and July through September is our peak season. The outdoor wedding community has grown exponentially.”

Part of that is because the region’s venues with spectacular views and scenery attract East Coast and other clients seeking destination weddings. Many clients live in Washington and Oregon and have great backyard views, perfect for family weddings.

With that focus, the owners have a “tight vision” of what they want for their business. Salvetti has an understanding of the clients’ perspective. She had a full-skirted, ballgown-style wedding dress and knows brides don’t want to worry about brushing up against dirty surfaces.

“We want them (trailers) to be approachable on cost and absolutely clean, and I want to make them beautiful,” she says. “We have new interior designs each year and pay attention to details.” That includes simple things like thoughtful positioning of a shelf, as well as high-end options like vessel sinks, backlit mirrors, crown molding and wainscoting upgrades. Salvetti works with JAG Mobile Solutions to add custom features to each new trailer.

CUSTOM CHOICES

Salvetti understands the importance of walking clients through the process to explain options and calculating the right size units. “We have never had an event go over capacity,” she says. “We calculate and educate. We want them to understand what makes their event successful.”

Clients often comment that they feel like they are the first to use the restrooms, which reflects Luxury Restroom Trailers emphasis on “zero odor.” The cleaning team follows extra steps to ensure that. All tanks are pumped and cleaned before the trailers are moved, using enzymes and ozone cleaners and additional rinsing time.

At the same time, environmental and water usage factors are considered. For example, the low-flow water system in the trailers use an average of one-third of a gallon of water for flushing and hand-washing. And, instead of dumping the freshwater, they have custom-built valves (an innovation they came up with) so the water can be recycled to rinse out the restroom tanks. Outside cleanliness is as important as the inside, so the trailers are all taken through a commercial car wash before every event.

The need to protect wetlands in their region also helped the business to set up long-term contracts for trailers in environmentally-sensitive areas. Clients don’t have to do excessive permitting and invest in expensive septic systems. While about 75% of Luxury Restroom Trailers’ business is weddings, other clients use their trailers for long-term bathroom remodels, office operations and other industrial uses.

With the area’s variety of backdrops from mountains to desert to ocean, the trailer demand for photo shoots, commercials and the film industry is also growing. The trailer restrooms are also used at music venues. The best ones go for backstage VIPs, and the industrial units are provided for the general public.

“We’re pleasantly surprised that because we keep the restrooms so clean, people treat the restrooms better than we anticipated,” Salvetti says.

THE INVENTORY

To serve the wedding, event and industrial markets, Luxury Restroom Trailers has 38 units in a variety of models. For industrial and long-term customers, they have two NuConcepts trailers. One is a two-stall Industrial, and the other is a two-stall Elementary. Black Tie Products restrooms cover a variety of customers. They include a two-stall Bridal Suite, two five-stall Industrials and an eight-stall Executive.

“Everything else is built by JAG Mobile Solutions. Most of the JAGs are custom built, but they fall into the category of the Porta-Lisa Plus. They range from two-stall restrooms up to 10-station restrooms,” Salvetti says.

She explains that she works with JAG to customize new models. “We’ve changed up colors and materials,” she says, to set different moods for events. Beadboard adds a country feel, while picture-frame wainscoting creates a Victorian atmosphere. Instead of neutral colors, she’s opted for everything from stark white to bold colors like a charcoal navy blue and emerald green to a relaxing dusty lavender.

“We’re always changing vessel sinks. And urinals are a passion of mine — how they function, look better and have flushing mechanisms more like home restrooms,” she says.

With LED lighting and skylights, units are well lit. A sound system and air conditioning/heating make them comfortable.

Instead of stalls, many have floor-to-ceiling walls with interior doors to separate each unit. Baby changing stations are available in both men’s and women’s restrooms, while sign holders on the exterior allow gender-neutral options when appropriate. Trailers with three stalls include an ADA option that is fully ADA compliant with the correct ramp pitch, door weight, accessory placement, etc.

“Even the sign is different, with a wheelchair in motion,” Salvetti says. “It’s a mission we support.”

Though they don’t market standard polyethylene restrooms, the company owns 11 PolyJohn Enterprises units (including an ADA model), mostly for behind-the-scenes and event support staff. They also have a couple of PolyJohn hand-wash stations.

The truck fleet includes seven Chevrolet pickups (2016-19), four carrying 350- or 325-gallon waste and 150-gallon freshwater slide-in Garsite/Progress (three aluminum and one steel) tanks from FMI Truck Sales & Service. All carry Honda engines. 

They also have a 1999 International 4700 with a 925-gallon wastewater and 600-gallon freshwater stainless steel tank and Masport pump from Lely Tank & Waste Solutions and a 2018 Isuzu NPR with a 325-gallon wastewater and 150-gallon freshwater WorkMate steel tank from FMI with a Honda engine.

Luxury Restroom Trailers is based in Portland and has a secondary site in Seattle to cover that area.

HAPPY BUSINESS

Because they serve mostly clients in the wedding market, Salvetti says their business is different from many PROs. “People planning a wedding are excited about it; we get to be a part of that planning process and want to maintain that excitement. It’s a fun industry to be part of. Our drivers get many hugs,” Salvetti says.

She finds good employees through a hiring firm and personal contacts and follows a lengthy interview process. Besides being willing to meet cleaning standards, employees need people skills to give clients “a five-minute hotel experience” while giving tours of the trailers and educating how to use all the trailer’s features.

Drivers have at least six weeks of training. Only one truck requires a CDL license, but Salvetti offers to pay employees’ costs to get licensed with the goal of having them all CDL-certified.

To retain good employees, Luxury Restroom Trailers pays well, offers vacation and sick time and is flexible with scheduling to meet busy families’ needs.

“We don’t ask others to do things that we haven’t done,” Salvetti says. With the recent birth of her second child, she understands the challenges of balancing work and family life.

BRIGHT FUTURE

At 33, Salvetti is proficient with technology and comfortable with social media to efficiently run and market the business. QuickBooks software keeps track of bookkeeping and Smartsheet covers almost everything else related to office work, providing everyone live access to everything from generating quotes to booking to scheduling.

The entire crew also connects with Slack, a team text message app that can be used to send messages, photos, invoices and other documents to individuals or all.

Because weddings for millennials is the company’s main target, the internet and social media are its biggest marketing tool. Salvetti regularly posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, as well as occasionally on Twitter.

“We focus on the beautiful side with interior and exterior photos and wonderful locations, not so much the operational side. We cater to high-end, so they want to see what it’s like and how it blends in with scenery. On Facebook, we do blogging on how to overcome event hurdles like providing water and electric. And we cover trending ideas,” Salvetti says.

In the end, good service and offering a great experience lead to the best advertising — word-of-mouth. Salvetti credits a dedicated team for the growth of the business in just a few years.

The business has been an interesting leap from the couple’s careers in archeology, but they joke that it was “in the stars” because of their own wedding experience and from research work they did for the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. They rehydrated and studied 15,000-year-old coprolites — mummified human feces.

In naming their business, they incorporated another piece of history to match their upscale market. The “Privy Chambers” part of the company’s name refers back to the time of King Henry VIII. He was the first king to have indoor restroom facilities — called privy chambers.

The Salvettis have discovered that many skills and experiences as archeologists are helpful with their business.

“My husband is very mechanically inclined and good at troubleshooting,” Salvetti says. “I have done marketing with community outreach and administrative work with museums. This business uses the same strategies.”

As they serve the Portland and Seattle markets, they see growth potential in rural areas and for industrial markets. They added trailers in 2019 and by midyear were turning away work, so they plan to add 10 trailers in 2020.

“We are always expanding, as much as the market allows,” Salvetti concludes.


Communicating with clients

Being part of the “wedding industry” means that Kasey Salvetti and other members of the team at Luxury Restroom Trailers by Privy Chambers deal with clients who are excited and happy. To maintain that goodwill requires good communication and helping the client get exactly what they need.

“I say we write emails with a smile on our faces,” Salvetti says, but she notes that specific protocols are followed. Clients fill out an online questionnaire and have a phone conference with staff.

“With dates, numbers and location, then we can start putting together an efficient bid for them,” Salvetti says, and her policy is to make it in a timely manner. “When I was planning my wedding, even a couple of days was a long time to wait for a reply. I don’t want to leave a client hanging like that. So that they can make a decision, I want them to have information — and no secret hidden fees.”

Because they serve markets in two regions, costs vary. Due to more traffic and longer times to make deliveries, Seattle is more expensive. Sites make a difference too, so setting the groundwork means asking if there is power and water available to hook up. If not, Luxury Restroom Trailers can provide a generator and holding tanks.

Size is also an important factor to ensure the restrooms don’t go over capacity. Often, the two-stall trailers are sufficient for 150-200 wedding guests.

“We want the success of the event to take priority,” Salvetti says. “At the same time, budgets are important also, so clients may be comfortable if there are lines on occasion.”



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