Vicki Gogis Crunched the Numbers and Decided to Become a PRO

A New York tax preparer bought her customer’s restroom business and discovered a great off-season small business.

Vicki Gogis Crunched the Numbers and Decided to Become a PRO

The crew at Gotta Go Now Corp. includes, from left, Josh Messer, Vicki Gogis and Jody Feurstein. (Photos by Mitch Wojnarowicz)

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Vicki Gogis has done tax preparation for 30 years around Pattersonville, New York, working first for her mother then on her own since 2014. She has also simultaneously held various accounting jobs since — even with 700 clients — tax work alone does not bring in enough income in this rural area. But she wanted to find a source of supplemental income that would enable her to be entirely self-employed. The answer came in the form of something she was completely unfamiliar with — but there was some logic to her thinking. 

One of her clients owned a portable restroom company. She could see the numbers were good; the two businesses had complementary slow and busy seasons; it was something her boyfriend, Jody Feurstein, could do after having sustained severe injuries in a motorcycle accident; she had room to store equipment on her eight-acre property; and she had a business background. She told the owner, Rob Hewitt, that she’d like to buy it if he ever wanted to sell. By November 2018, Gotta Go Now Corp. was hers.

The business came with 175 standard and 18 ADA-compliant units and five hand-wash stations from Satellite Industries, an Isuzu vacuum truck, four-unit and ten-unit trailers, four 225-gallon holding tanks — and, most valuable, an owner willing to teach them everything he knew. 

Although Gogis felt prepared for this new undertaking, there were a few unforeseen challenges. 

TRUCK PROBLEMS

“DOT was the first hurdle,” Gogis says. “We had to get our equipment up to [New York] DOT standards.” She knew the old Isuzu would have to be replaced eventually, but after getting a few tickets for faulty equipment that time came sooner than expected. She replaced it with a 2009 Chevy 3500 flatbed built out by Brenner Tank with a 300-gallon waste/150-gallon freshwater aluminum slide-in tank and Conde (Westmoor) pump.

Gogis thought their Department of Transportation worries were behind them, but unbeknownst to her, the New York Department of Transportation (DOT) lowered the weight of a vehicle that came under its jurisdiction. Sure enough, they got stopped for not having DOT numbers. “Luckily they were nice enough about it,” she says. “We’ve had no problems since.”

AGING INVENTORY 

The inventory needed attention. About 25 units that are functional but not up to Gogis’ standards will go to auction. “If somebody had a hunting camp, it’s perfect for something like that.” She felt she had to buy a truckload of new units (Satellite Industries) — “A $20,000 expense I couldn’t incur but did because it had to happen.” Feurstein is enhancing a few flushable and ADA-compliant units, for which there is low demand, into deluxe units for weddings and high-end events. “They’ll have a sink, baby-changing station, mirror, lights. We’re trying to think of inventive ways to make our company stand out.”

Gogis pressure washed every unit. “All summer I was in my bikini washing units in my backyard,” she says. “Even an older-style unit will look good, will look new.” Feurstein makes sure the units stay that way when he services them. “I’ve had a lot of compliments about the cleanliness of our units,” 

Gogis reports. “We take the best care of them we can. We take pride in that. We want people to see the name and say, ‘Oh, wow, these are clean.’” 

LOST A FEW CUSTOMERS

Hewitt and Gogis sent a joint letter of introduction to the clients in which Hewitt expressed his confidence in her. But between client resistance to change and missteps by Gogis and Feurstein, there were a few casualties. 

“I hate to say it, but we did lose some customers because in the beginning we didn’t know what we were doing. Plus Rob did all his services on Mondays so that’s what everybody expected, but we just couldn’t do that and people were upset. But my goal is to reach out to those people and say, ‘We’ve figured out different things and if you want to give us another shot, we’d love it.’” 

Gogis says she has stiff competition from large well-known companies, so she’s hoping to win customers over with her personal touch. She’s also pursuing markets to the south that are not well covered. “It’s a little far but I want to be available for people who need it and don’t have other options,” she says. Price setting is still a work in process as she tries to balance financial realities, keeping up with market rates and not upsetting customers.

FIGURING OUT A WEBSITE 

The company is on Facebook, but website design is unfamiliar territory for Gogis, although she does have specific ideas about what she wants. 

“Other websites say, ‘Call for pricing.’ But I want somebody to be able to rent a unit, get an estimate, pay for it, and know it’s going to be delivered where and when they want it.” She’s working with a local web designer and web-hosting company GoDaddy to have a site up and running.

THE CHALLENGE NO ONE SAW COMING

Just when the company was getting established and looking forward to the upcoming summer season, COVID-19 hit. Construction shut down for three months and events canceled. The federal Paycheck Protection Program helped, and J&J Chemical, local vendor Hill & Markes and the insurance company were understanding about late payments.

As businesses started to re-open Gogis adapted to new needs. Sinks were now required on job sites, so Feurstein moved sinks from some of their little-used flushable units to standard units and built hand sanitizer stands for restaurant outdoor seating areas. Construction is back but events are still down so this challenge is ongoing.

DIDN’T THINK ABOUT THAT

Weather. Gogis has had to become better prepared to handle cold winters. “The freshwater freezes, the sludge freezes. We had a time last year where everything froze. We had to wait a couple days and do what we had to do to thaw it. There are some things you don’t think about.” She’s getting a heater for the garage. 

Company name. Gogis assumed she could keep the “Gotta Go” name, but while Hewitt ran it as a sole proprietorship, she wanted it set up as an S corporation and at the corporate level, that name was not available. Fortunately, she found a simple solution. She just added the word “Now” to the end of the name — Gotta Go Now Corp.

Employer Taxes. “I didn’t really take into account the full cost of payroll when I did my budgeting, with all the employer taxes,” Gogis says. “I can definitely see I need my gross income to go up.”

THE PERFECT COMBINATION 

Future plans include sending out a mass flyer, connecting with tent rental companies, purchasing tracking software and buying a second vacuum truck. Gogis says she’ll never give up tax work but loves the new business.

“At 50, I never thought I’d be buying this kind of business. But I’m extremely happy with the decision. I like the flexibility to do my own thing during the week, I enjoy the physical aspect of it, it gives me exercise, I get out of the house, I get to see people. My work life is exactly where I want it to be.”  



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