Starting Small with Slide-In Units

Slowly working up to bigger trucks was a great financial strategy for startup portable restroom company
Starting Small with Slide-In Units
One of Jay Baker's Dodge 4500s with a slide-in unit that he uses to service portable restrooms.

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A conservative financial strategy has been critical to Jay Baker’s ability to take a small startup portable sanitation company — 28 Rentals, of Clinton, Oklahoma — and turn it into something substantial and sustainable. This entrepreneur is always careful to avoid over-extending the company’s finances by purchasing equipment that’s more expensive than he can afford.

On the other hand, he’s not afraid to splurge on value-added features that will pay dividends down the road. A good example: Baker’s two restroom service vehicles. Built by Best Enterprises, they feature slide-in units with stainless steel tanks.

Operating on a shoestring budget when starting out in 2011, Baker saved money by buying slide-in units instead of a purpose-built vacuum truck. Moreover, he mounted his first slide-in unit on his personal 3/4-ton pickup truck. “I could’ve bought a cheaper tank, too — not stainless steel — but I knew a stainless steel tank will last just about forever,” he explains.

From there, Baker says he “stair-stepped” his way up to bigger trucks. After several months, business was good enough to justify investing in a Ford 3/4-ton pickup, which allowed him to take back his personal truck. About a year later, he bought a Ford 1-ton pickup to carry the same slide-in unit.

Six months later, he bought his second slide-in unit, larger than the first. “That gave me increased capacity to handle more service stops per day, which improved productivity,” he says. That unit required a larger truck, a Ford F-550.

When Baker felt business was strong enough to justify it, he traded in the Fords for the Dodge 4500s he currently runs. “I wanted something a little bit stouter,” he explains. “We travel down a lot of rough roads, so we needed vehicles that could hold up to that.”

Does he foresee buying something other than slide-in units down the road? “I might go bigger some day, but we’re doing fine with what we have,” he notes. “No need to fix what ain’t broke.”

Read more about Jay Baker and his company in the August issue of PRO.


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