New PROs Share Their Portable Sanitation Hopes and Dreams

Do you remember what it was like starting out with a secondhand truck, a handful of restrooms and a heap of enthusiasm? These folks are going through it right now.

New PROs Share Their Portable Sanitation Hopes and Dreams

All successful PROs displayed their entrepreneurial spirit when they bought that first load of restrooms and a vacuum truck and got to work. They gambled a pile of cash on the dream of self-employment, running their own show and creating a small-business legacy for their families.

What lies ahead for fearless newbies to the portable sanitation industry are long hours of backbreaking work, artfully juggling their schedules and the schedules of their employees, navigating the challenges of human resource management, equipment maintenance and repair, marketing and social media, and creating a positive customer service culture.

Making a restroom business work is a tall order, and profitability may come after months or years of sweat equity and perseverance. Many jump into the game; some succeed and some fail.

We at the magazine usually meet portable restroom operators when they’ve already scaled the mountain and realized at least some of the goals they set out for themselves. Our PROfile feature companies have often established a leadership position in their marketplace, and their stories can offer inspiration and advice to everyone in the industry. We love to learn about the challenges they’ve faced, their supportive families and great team of workers, and their take on the future of portable sanitation.

But what we don’t hear about so often are the hopeful stories of those who are just starting out in the industry. If you are a seasoned PRO, you know about the struggle at the beginning, when you’re long on excitement and short on capital. We’re going to recapture those days by interviewing startup contractors for our new, occasional feature, Business Incubator.

We kick off the new feature this month, interviewing California sisters Lori Lyons Webster and Lisa Lyons Rodriquez, who have used an inheritance from their father to start a restroom trailer rental business called King of Thrones. They are an unlikely pair to enter the industry: both in their 50s, with no wastewater experience and embarking on new careers.

The ladies tell writer Betty Dageforde that they wanted to honor their father, James Lyons, by spending his bequest on something of lasting value, and they found that value in portable sanitation. They believe the restroom trailer service can help support them for many years and into their retirement.

Their biggest supporter is their mom, Robbie. “Our mom is 86, and if she isn’t in the truck with us to deliver, she’s standing out in the yard waving to us. She’s proud of us,” Lori says.

Enjoy turning inside and reading about Lori and Lisa.

Our plan is to feature contractors when they hit the ground running and then revisit them in a year or two to learn if their startup was a success. What challenges did they face and overcome? What aspects of their business plan changed as they got further along? What did they do right? What would they do differently if they were starting out again?

The answers to these questions can be instructive to everyone in the portable sanitation industry.

Are you new to the industry? Maybe you’ve just started a subscription to Portable Restroom Operator as a way to learn more about portable sanitation and the latest equipment offered by our advertisers. Or are you a veteran operator watching a young upstart contractor trying to build a successful company in your area? Either way, we’d like to hear from you.

To suggest a newcomer for the Business Incubator feature, drop me a line at editor@promonthly.com. We’re excited to tell your stories.

And a few more tidbits from your portable restroom news service:

BUSTED!

Criminals often get away with vandalizing portable restrooms, but recent news accounts show they can be brought to justice as well.

According to WHIO TV7 in Ohio, police captured 18-year-old James Clevenger after he and two juveniles set off an explosion that “disintegrated” a restroom at a construction site in Springboro. Clevenger was fined $250 and ordered to pay $515 in restitution to the owners of the portable restroom. Check one off for the good guys.

Multiple news outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area told the story of how 42-year-old Peterson Fontes cut holes in the back of portable restrooms at the BottleRock Napa Valley music festival so he could assault women using the restrooms. Several women dialed 911, and responding police discovered Fontes behind a row of restrooms. Fontes was convicted for sexual penetration, burglary and vandalism and sentenced to the maximum 16 years in prison. That’s No. 2 for the good guys.

In North Wildwood, New Jersey, 26-year-old Robert Daniels reportedly had the bright idea of filming himself jumping off a Jersey Shore sea wall and onto a portable restroom. He posted the video showing him breaking through the white restroom roof and disappearing into the unit. The video subsequently had more than a million views online and led local police to Daniels, arresting him for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. If convicted in the pending case, he will most likely have to pay restitution for the damage caused during the prank. That’s No. 3 for the good guys!

So the next time one of your units is vandalized, there is hope the authorities will track down the offenders and hold them responsible for your loss.

CELEBRITY RESTROOM STORY

Portable sanitation was an unlikely topic of discussion during The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon recently. Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Reynolds told the funny story about how his mother mistook a urinal cake in a portable restroom as a bar of soap.

“It was an outdoor funeral. There was a little port-a-potty-type thing that had both the toilet and then it also had, like, this little space-age urinal thing that could be very easily confused as a sink with a little puck in it,” Reynolds explained to Fallon. “She accidentally used the urinal cake thinking it was soap, washing her hands. She washed her hands with it and then left, going, ‘Oh, it smells funny.’ In her defense, a lot of people don’t know that that’s a urinal cake.”

The urinal cake/soap story is a new one for me. But how many of you have heard of women mistaking the urinal for a purse holder?  



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