Lessons Learned From Corporate America

A son brings his business experience back home to run the family company
Lessons Learned From Corporate America
Owner Paul Liniger, right, speaks with his father Myron Liniger at Ace Portable Restroom Rentals and Septic Tank Services.

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It could have been timing, or just fate. Whatever it was, it was enough to lure Paul Liniger from corporate America back to the family business after more than 20 years. “I gained a lot of life, sales and management experience that have definitely enhanced this company.” 

Liniger started going on service calls as a youngster with his father, Myron, who founded Ace Portable Toilet Rentals in 1978. Many of those trips were to the fruit orchards located around Pasco, Washington, that provide about a third of the company’s business.

“As soon as I could see over the steering wheel, Dad had me driving the service truck around the orchards,” says Liniger. “But I also had to clean the toilets. I didn’t like that part very much, but he always instilled in me that you don’t get anything for free – you have to work for it. You do a good job, do what you say, and say what you mean.”

Those lessons served him well, even though he chose a different path and spent many years away from home as sales manager for La-Z-Boy in Portland, Oregon. “Dad had been hitting me up for about five years to see if I wanted to move home and become his exit strategy. I finally took him up on it.”

He and wife Martha bought the company in 2008; it’s now called Ace Portable Restroom Rentals and Septic Tank Services. He brought with him all the experience he’d learned at La-Z-Boy including the key to sales – closing the deal. “When you have the opportunity, ask the customer to buy,” says Liniger.

But that’s just the start. “Anybody can rent out a portable toilet. Prompt, conscientious service that comes along with our rentals is No. 1 and is probably 99 percent of having a happy customer.” 

For instance, if a customer asks how much a septic pumpout costs, he won’t just give them a quote. “After you give them the price, they’re not listening anymore. It’s not about the price; it’s about the customer trusting the company they hire to do it the right way when nobody is looking. 

“I ask a series of questions, which is a sales tool; finding out as much information as you can so you can make a knowledgeable product presentation. How old is the house, how many people live there, when was it last pumped, what they’ve experienced from past providers, and what they expect of us. Then I tell them what we do; it’s not just pumping the tank. We also provide an inspection for that price and can do either a verbal or written inspection report.”

Liniger says he talks with his drivers all the time about what he is telling customers the company will do for them. “If you’re not doing that, you don’t get to work here very long.” He has faith that his drivers will uphold the promises he makes, but still inspects their work. “Being human, we can get a little lazy. You get on autopilot and forget the service points that brought us to where we are.”

He has no regrets about the years away from the family business. “You don’t realize the kind of rat race you’re in until you get out,” he says. “I lived 13 miles from work in Portland and the commute would take me anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Now I live 17 miles away and it takes me about 20 minutes.”

Plus, he gets to work with his dad every day. “He’s no stranger to hard work,” says his son. “I’m really thankful he wants to work. That’s a lot better than sitting home in his recliner.” And yes, it’s a La-Z-Boy.

Check out the profile in the June issue of PRO magazine for more about Ace Portable Restroom Rentals and Septic Tank Services.



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