Take It From a PRO: The Best of 2019

In this monthly feature, portable sanitation professionals share their advice, insights and anecdotes

Take It From a PRO: The Best of 2019

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Over the past year, we have received some standout advice from PROs everywhere who push to be the best in the portable sanitation industry. Enjoy the best of our 2019 issues.


On motivation: “In the end, it all boils down to doing the work. If you want something, go do it. No one is going to do it for you. I simply will not let anyone outwork me. Period — end of story.”

On setting yourself apart from the competition: “We all offer the same basic product with four plastic walls, so one of the only ways to differentiate is through customer service — how fast you can get someone a restroom when they really need it.”

Devan Hanson, owner of Texan Restrooms, Stephenville, Texas


On being a female in a male-dominated industry: “In certain instances, I’ve had to earn the respect. One thing I’ve learned is as long as you’re respectful, you know what you’re talking about, you know what you’re doing … you’re just one of the guys.”

Carolyn Kahle, founder and owner of Onsite Pro Can, Boerne, Texas

On technology: “It’s important to be mobile-ready. There’s nothing worse than a website that isn’t mobile-optimized. And it also had to be a site that, if somebody looked at it on a full-screen computer or tablet or whatever, it was easy to use and easy to see everything.”
Tim Smith, owner of A King’s Throne, Des Moines, Iowa 


On the industry: “The portable restroom industry is challenging. It’s how you deal with the issues and how you deal with the people that makes you successful. Problems do come up. We try to be very accommodating and deal with our emergency situations quickly.”

Karrie Henricksen, part owner of Randy-Kan Portable Restrooms, Poulsbo, Washington

On staying engaged: “I get in the truck and I work with my guys. It’s good for your staff to know you are right there in the trench with them. They appreciate knowing that we’re not just owners who sit back and watch what goes on. We’re actually involved in our business.”

— Randy Bauer, part owner of Randy-Kan Portable Restrooms


On the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show: “It has been amazing in helping us grow because you can talk to people in the industry and learn things and it’s not your direct competitors. You can be very upfront and ask really good questions on what they experience and how they handle things. I’ve made some very good acquaintances who have helped and mentored me instead of us learning the hard way.”

Jeff Tillett Sr., part owner of Tillett Toilets, Palmyra, Pennsylvania


On growth: “We want to keep growth under control, so we don’t get in over our heads financially or lose our focus on quality service. I would rather turn away a customer than have so many that I can’t provide good service. We want to build this business slowly and steadily. Like they say: Slow but steady wins the race.”

James Hope, part owner along with wife, Cecelia Hope, of Rocky Mountain Portables, Boise, Idaho


On employee relations: “I try to inspire my employees to do their best. I pride myself on being a fair, loving boss but have established procedures that helped mold my company. Training and consistent monitoring of complacency is important.”

On operations and maintenance: “I’ve learned in a short time that if you don’t take care of the equipment, it will not take care of you. I’m constantly pushing my business to be better, to be the best.”

Chellene Lane, owner of Best Portables, a division of Lane Environmental, Phenix City, Alabama


On pricing: “I’ve learned to pay attention not just to price, but service. We try to deliver the best service and the cleanest units, and we’re there when we say we’re going to be there. If somebody else wants to charge less, that’s OK.”

On advertising: “My trucks and my units out in the field are all advertisements. We stand out because we say with our actions that we’re respecting the environment.”

John Fehser, owner of Ace Pumping & Portables, Tucson, Arizona


On professionalism: “I want us to look good in the community. We’re a professional shower service not a hodgepodge organization. We have beautiful trailers. I want people to know we’re serious.”
Lance Olinski, founder of Streetside Showers

On working with family: “Everyone needs the freedom to be heard. And you have to respect each other. Because after all is said and done, we’re all still working together as a family.”
Fred Wilkinson, owner of Wilkinson Portables


On the startup process: “I had worked for 18 years in the commercial banking industry, and one of my colleagues mentioned that the business of one of his clients was going up for sale. I performed my due diligence and could see that the company had few competitors in the luxury trailer rental space serving the film industry. I dove in directly, making a full transition from banker to businessman.” 
Patrick Léveillé, owner of Groupe Star Suites 


On new hires: “You either like the job or you can’t stand it and leave. So, whoever goes through the first week and hasn’t become completely disgusted, usually they’re the ones we start looking at more seriously for training for other things.”
Monica Brown, majority owner of Sarabia’s Portable Jons & Blue Sanitation

On servicing crowded events: “You can be as polite as possible but sometimes people are like cows in a road — they won’t get out of your way. We knock out the big banks first. We’ll park two or three trucks in front of them to create a barricade, then service them and get out of the way as quick as possible.” 

Chris Cates, owner of Clean Green Porta Potties


On what makes a name: “That’s what my grandpa named it when he started this business back in 1955. My dad kept it when he bought it, and I’ve kept it. Do I like the name? No. Does it fit? No, but it’s well known.” 

Troy Dresel, owner of Cesspool Cleaner Co. and Portable Toilet Rentals


Jacky Ward, owner of A-1 Sewage Services, and Lynn Ward
Jacky Ward, owner of A-1 Sewage Services, and Lynn Ward

On the importance of trade associations: “It’s about meeting people, talking with them and getting a different point of view. Being able to compare notes with someone who isn’t your competitor is really helpful.”
— Jacky Ward, owner of A-1 Sewage Services

On professionalism: “When our guy comes in wearing nice, fluorescent-colored shirts, provides a business card, shakes hands and explains what he’s going to do for the customer, it carries some credence.” 
— Russ Gulliford, owner of Illinois Portable Toilets


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