Executive Restroom Trailers
1093 A1A Beach Boulevard #421
St Augustine, FL 32080
Click here to email us: Sharon@exrt.com
Upscale special event organizers rely on
Executive Restroom Trailers
When Tim Haszard did research on how to take his portable sanitation business to a higher level, he consulted with the consumer group that has the highest expectations but typically the lowest satisfaction with the average portable toilet: women
"When we were coming up with a lot of ideas, we talked to women," Haszard says. "We were working in special events. We knew how badly women hated to use the port-a-johns. We had something that no one else hadwe had very nice, electrically operated flushing toilets. But even then, it was still a port-a-john. When we designed our trailers, we went on the concept that we wanted to make them for ladies, because theyre the ones who really matter. So we make private bathrooms and we used ceramic tiles and porcelain sinks and all of the appointments we could to make the thing be as close to your home as we could make it.
"The number one thing that you hear from people is that our bathrooms are as nice as the bathrooms they have at home. I couldnt ask for anything better." And thus was born the successful Executive Restroom Trailers company that has become the hit of many parties and special events.
These restroom trailers arent like just any others. Where else for instance, could one find hanging plants, potpourri and piped-in music in a restroom trailer? "You find a need to develop a better product," Haszard says. "This was back in the late 70s, we were doing golf tournaments and we had flushing portable toilets, which no one else had. It was an outcropping of working with tent companies, golf tournaments, and tennis tournaments. In the party industry, we saw that there was a dire need for a better product.
"Over a period of three years, I started experimenting with different concepts and engineering different types of systems and ultimately, we came up with what we now call the Executive Restroom Trailer." In 1981, the companys first rental was for President Ronald Reagan for the World Economic Summit in Williamsburg, Virginia. The event was a cocktail dinner for all of the free world leaders.
"We started from that point in concentrating mostly on building one trailer a year for the first five or six years. We did mostly work around the Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area-we didnt go out of our service area. We started then getting a few jobs in New York. One of the first jobs we did outside the Washington/Baltimore area was a party for Malcolm Forbes at his home," Haszard says.
Each executive Restroom trailer is "handcrafted and showcases individual bathrooms-not stalls, high quality paper products, ceramic tile, large air-conditioned vanity areas and appropriate music to suit the event," describes the companys brochure. The self-contained treatment system is odor-free and requires no on-site pumping during the event.
There are several types of units available. The EXR-16 features a four-bathroom unit with a large vanity area to complement larger models and handle additional traffic. The EXR-26 offers two restrooms and a tiled urinal area for men, four individual restrooms for women and a spacious vanity area.
The company does extensive marketing, thanks to Haszards wife Sharon, who is the companys co-owner and handles marketing on a day-to-day basis. "We do trade shows. We do publications. We have put together a brochure; we worked with a professional to develop the brochure but basically, it was our work," Haszard says.
In one of the broadcasts, the newscaster opens the segment by saying, "you havent experienced the life style of the rich and famous until youve been in one of these portable restrooms." While the media may approach the industry tongue-in-cheek, Haszard stakes his profession seriously. "I dont think anyone has done more to uplift the industry than we have," Haszard says. "When you look at this product, when you walk in here and you see that facility is not a portable restroom its a bathroom, most people will say this is nicer than my bathroom at home. We keep a low profile in the portable toilet industry. But the people in the special event/party industry-they know who we are. We take our marketing pretty seriously. We dont make a joke out of this at all," he says.
"Naturally, we dont talk about specific customers. Weve probably provided toilets for just about every major type of event you could come up with thats on an upper-end level," he adds.
While Haszard does not discuss who his private clients are, he has a long list of public events customers hes proud to share. They include Kentucky Derby, the 1996 Olympics, Walt Disney World, the Ryder Cup, the Super Bowl, the NATO Summit, Whitney Houstons birthday party, President George Bushs Inaugural Ball The World Economic Summit hosted by President Ronald Reagan, the Swedish Embassy Party honoring the King and Queen of Sweden, and Forbes Magazine 50th Anniversary, among many others.
The company has a full-color brochure featuring its 800 number and the statement: "Its amazing what becomes the hit of the party." Testimonials from satisfied customers support that. Some of the comments:
"Your restroom trailer was spectacularit was the hit of the party
it added a real touch of class to our event." Parker Rockefeller, vice president of the Living Classrooms foundation.
"For upscale events there just isnt anything on the market that compares." Betty Garrett, Bank One Corporate Affairs Officer.
"Your equipment was on time, always clean, and very effective." Norris Scott, Family circle Magazine Corp.
While the companys main office is in St. Augustine Florida, Executive Restroom trailers is branching out. "Weve done parties at the Breakers in Palm Beach. A couple of years ago, we did the Summit of the Americas in Miami. We work all over Florida. We have trailers that we keep in Orlando. We do a lot of work at Disney. We have a company in ChicagoBlueBoy Sanitation and the owner of that is Craig Jones. Hes our service distributor in Chicago. Were diversifying slowly. From right here, we handle everything east of the Mississippi. From Chicago, down to New Orleans and everything west," Haszard says. The service distributors "will have our trailers; they will do the work. We have a service agreement with them. Well do the marketing and theyll do the local sales," Haszard says. "It allows them to have a product that is unique and it gives us some representation in areas we cant possibly go to because of logistics." Haszard anticipates that in the future, hell continue to set up more service distributors around the country.
Executive Restroom Trailers are completely manufactured on site and each one is a self contained system. They cost more than $50,000 apiece for the company to build; the rate for rental can go anywhere from $3,000 and up for a one-day rental.
"When we first started out, we built two trailers in one year and then the next year we built another, now we have 35. Sharon at that time was not working full time in the company, but she came in and started working the sales. Shes a very organized person; she does a real good job dealing with customers. A lot of our customers are women. A lot of times a lady has a better feeling for how that works than I do. As far as the growth on the trailers we were building one or two trailers a year until the last two years and as our capital got better we added more. This past winter we built seven trailers. I hope to build a number of trailers this winter. But like small businesses, were limited on how fast we can grow by how much equipment we can afford to own. Haszard also added to his fleet six new dodge 4x4 trucks. "Thats quite and expense," he says of the new fleet purchase. But it follows from continuous, steady growth.
As far as maintenance, it is all done by the company itself. "No one touches our trailers but us and our service distributors," Haszard says. Haszard offers high praise for his employees. "This is an employee company. Im one person," he says. "We can only do these things because Ive got an absolutely fantastic group of people working for me." Currently, the nine employees do everything from helping to manufacture the trailers to delivering them and servicing them.
"We all do everything from the ground upwe manufacture, we deliver, we service, we do sales. Each one of our guys who works on the job is also a sales man. So its an integral part of the businesswere a real family. Generally, whenever I have a new employee, he will work with other people quite a few months before he ever goes out on a job by himself. But mostly, its screening the people before you hire them. The type of employees I want to have are self-motivated, very courteous people people. We dont argue with customers as far as Im concerned, theres no one more right than your customer. That comes from me on down. Ive been real fortunate. We have an unbelievable crew." Haszard hires a mix of experienced and inexperienced people. After he sold his portable toilet business to Waste management last spring, he hired people who worked in that part of the industry and to the men that progressed through that business to work in the trailers.
" Were a full-service company, from manufacture to service to sales and marketing. We do nothing from outside. The only thing I have built for me is the actual shell of the trailer; everything else is manufactured. We do the stairs, all of the tanks, everything."
Sharon and Al keep all these trailers moving the way they should be," Haszard says. " You have 35 trailers and youre planning sometimes six months ahead of where all of those trailers are going to be and the logistics of getting them to those place. We have a table and we have a cutout of every trailer. It looks lake a war room with the Navy when they have a plotting course; were moving trailers. We break the trailer down in the middle of the night and have to get to another job so between Al and Sharon, theyre unbelievable."
Without his employees Haszard concedes he would not have the business "Theyre more important than anything we have," Haszard says. "Every now and then youll get someone that doesnt fit and if he doesnt fit with my other people, he doesnt stay with us. You could say were a family business. Ive had guys who take their wives with them when they go on trips. Even the wives help to work on jobs. I think we have good relationships with our employees. I sure hope so. They make good money as far as Im concerned, nobody makes enough money, my employees included. None of them are paid what theyre worth. But I try to compensate. I pay their health care. I try to make sure we have good equipment to work with, good trucks that are air conditioned, full loaded trucks with CD players and stereos. Because thats where they live. Were on the road so much.
The company does not have a big turnover. "If you get someone whos a good employee, its important to keep that guy. In the portable toilet industry, its hard to find people. In this industry, Ive been real fortunate, most of the guys who work for me are people who can travel." Haszard says.
Haszard is proud of the fact that although his company is small, it takes on big jobs. One recent example is the trailers the company had set up at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlantathe trailers were utilized by Sports Illustrated for a party, Georgia Power for its corporate area, and Reebok for hospitality.
While every employee is involved in every aspect of the company Haszard spends his days engaged in the additional tasks of paying the bills and signing the checks. "In between that, Im generally taking trailers to jobs and meeting with customers, Im working in sales, Im managing my employees." He says. "Im directly involved in the manufacturing. So I need never stop. Were constantly going. Sharon and I work together as a team. We can cover a lot of jobs in a short amount of time."
Office hours are generally from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the operation of the business is round-the-clock. "I drove 1,000 miles one day last week." Haszard says. "I did a tennis tournament in Michigan. The tennis tournament was over Monday night; I finished up there at 1 a.m. By 6 a.m. I was cleaning the trailer, pumping it out, took it from Michigan, stopped in Indianapolis for another event and then drove back to Marylandall in about a 23-hour period. We dont normally work that way, but I had things that had to be done. On a good weekend every trailer is out. This weekend, weve got a trailer thats set up for a wedding for Bon Jovis drummer in New Jersey. We have a couple jobs in New York, one in Connecticut and a couple in Pennsylvania. And a golf tournament called the Presidents Cup in Manassas, Virginia. I think we have one trailer left in New York and itll be gone before Monday." A good deal of the work occurs on weekends, so the trailers are back in Maryland on Mondays.
"We clean them up and get them ready for the next weekend. We dont really slow down," Haszard says. "It used to be really seasonal because I only worked in the Northeast and the Mid Atlantic. In the past six years, weve expanded into Florida; we do the North and the West in the summer." Florida offers the opportunity for continued business while inclement weather slows or shuts down special events activities in the rest of the country. "The market in Florida is growing," Haszard concedes. "We try to work with other portable toilet companies in the industry. A lot of our friends in the business, theyll come to me. They dont have anything in this category. They might have Olympic-type trailers, a "Crowd pleaser" and we subcontract to them. We get a lot of our work that way. Its always been successful for me because I get a lot of service behind me. I get along with everybody. I like to think I have no enemies in this industry. I feel like I do one thing and we try to do that one thing better than anyone else in the world. My feelings is Id rather work with everybody, because most of these guys only have one or two jobs a year where they need something like I have. But if I have 100 people who need me one time, thats a lot. We try to work through the industry; we always try to stay close to a lot of people.
The customer base had already existed Haszard saw a need in their area "because of the embassies, the society parties, and with Washington D.C., the Presidential parties, so thats were we started. For year, it was just growth by word of mouth. For the first six years, I doubled my business every year with no sales, no marketing, no anything. And weve had good steady growth ever since then. But
in order to double, youve got to do a whole lot more." Haszards business strategy includes plenty of value added service. "Always," he emphasizes. "If a customer wants you to do something, do it and do it better than anyone else and give him more than he paid for." One specific value-added service is always having a man on site with the trailer. " A trailer is never unattended," Haszard says. "When we take a trailer to a job, we deliver it, we set it up, and a man is on site all of the time. Youre dealing directly with the customer. In other words, we dont take a trailer in on Friday and drop it off and pick it up later. If its a wedding, a mans on site. Thats why I say all of my men are also salesman. Having a man on site also offers the customer peace of mind. "If that customer knows that theres a problem, somebodys there to fix it and theyre paying dearly for that," Haszard says.
Yet one satisfied customer will usually yield another. "We tend to get more business from referrals. Someone will see the trailers and say, My daughters getting married, too. Can I have a card? Business strategy is go give the customer more than they ask for, more than they want. And just be the best. That was my philosophy when I as in the portable toilet industry and its always been the same. Price was not as much of a concern as service and doing a good job. Ive never been the cheapest guy in town." Thats because hes offering one of the best products on the market coupled with top-of-the-line service he says.
"Were constantly modifying our trailers making them better," he says. "As far as sales and marketing, we look to have more service distributors in other parts of the country in years to come. One area that we havent done a whole lot in is the subcontracting with other port-a-johns companies. We do it, but I think theres more out there that we could do.
"I hope that what were doing how is right because well continue to do the same thing. I think when you make a mistake, you learn from it and God knows Ive made mine all of the time. We have a direction upward and I always have a direction upward. I dont have any major plan but to continue to go."Haszards five-year plan is to continually upgrade. "I expect in the next five years I want to concentrate on working with my service distributors in Chicago and California more, give them more equipment, expand our market. Well be at the special events trade show in Las Vegas in January. Last year it was in Phoenix, so that was our introduction to hitting the West Coast.
Networking comes through involvement in the Portable Sanitation Association and through special events organizations. Such as the International Tent Renters Association as well as various local organizations for tent marketing sales.
Executive Restroom Trailers is akin to the U.S. Postal Servicetheyre doing the job in every type of weather. "The trailers are climate controlled inside," Haszard says. "In freezing weather we have heat even in transportation. There are no exposed tanks or pipes - its all enclosed, all climate-controlled.
Nor has the company had any problems with pumping. "On a lot of the big events we work on, whoever the local port-a-john company is, well contract them to provide trucks for us to pump," Haszard says. "We do our own work, as far as all cleaning, servicing, pumping. We can go anywhere and I can hire a septic tank company to provide trucks. Thats what I did at the Olympics. We designed the system ourselves, so we made it as proper as we could. I tried to foresee every possible thing that could happen and engineer and design for it. And thats why theres always some type of evolution involved.
Because the trailers are utilized in different parts of the country, the company is constantly dealing with different types of local ordinances. Getting a permit generally "Entails the Tent Company or someone like that sending the brochure of even one of the videos to the heath department. After theyve seen our trailers theres never a problem." The only challenges Haszard cites are financing and logistics. In terms of logistics the challenge is "getting all of these trailers to 15 different cities in one day with a limited number of men and a limited number of trucks. And dealing with banksthat can be a challenge for getting enough capital to build trailers and keep the productions going and knowing that I need four to five year to pay off that piece of equipment.
"Ive been very fortunate. I have a bank that supported me even back in the beginning when they probably shouldnt have, but they did. Theyve been very good to support me. I pay them well!" And fortunately for the company, the customers pay their accounts on time and completely, unlike when Haszard was in the portable toilet business. "Id say about 75percent of our business is COD," he says. "The rest of it is customers who have a means of paying their business. I had one customer go out of business and left me holding $9,000 years ago. Just recently I had one company where the guy is a close friend of mine, he owed me 3,000 and he paid me 2,000 and he went out of business, so I was happy with that. So if its a new customer and we dont know who they are, we get COD."
Haszard has given back to the community, which has supported him over the years. "We do some charity things," he says. "We work with Special Olympics. At different times, we provide facilities where needed. As far as locally, weve donated to the fire department, police department, that type of thing."
Being available and being credible are two primary factors in a successful business. Haszard comments on those qualities as they pertain to his business. "It is an industry that over the years has had a problem with credibility, more so in the portable end," he says. "I see it more so as doing whats right. If a customers paying you to do a job do it. Its a real simple thing. I steer away from people who dont have credibility. We try not to ever turn a customer down and its now because of the motivation of money on our end," he says. Its because I have a product thats in demand and its important. Well drive all night to get to a customer. So availability can be a problemI already have a couple of weekends next spring where Im totally booked out but somehow or another we always find a way of doing it.
Haszard credits his success to hard work, foresight, identifying in a niche and servicing it. Hes tried diversifying, but found doing so to be a mistake, preferring instead to do what he does best. "Find that thing that youre really good at and be the best," he advises. "Always put yourself in the customers position and look at it through their eyes."
When asked about interesting or humorous experiences, Haszard laughs. "Probably some things I wont talk about," he says. But he will say he has seen thing others can only imagine.
"When you do a job for someone like Malcolm Forbes and they come up to you at the end and say these bathrooms were the hit of the party, thats interesting. To see the fireworks for the opening of the rededication of the Statue of LibertyI had trailers there for private parties. To be at the Ryder Cup and see the American team win one year and four years later to see us lose again. Just to be there and to feel the energy of the Super Bowl. All of these things are just beyond explanation."