A well-lit, heated portable toilet with hot water can be a true blessing for workers toiling outdoors on a frigid Manitoba winter day.
While it’s easy to make jokes about portable toilets, building and supplying them is a profitable business for King’s Septic & Portable Toilet Service. The business recently relocated from the RM of Rosser, moving into a new 13,000-square-foot building at 49 Headingley St. in the RM of Headingley.
King’s owner, Steve Moon, and his family have lived in Headingley for seven years. He coaches hockey and enjoys living in the community, and is now happy to also be operating his business within the municipality.
"The municipality has been fantastic to deal with," Moon said.
He needed a larger building, as the company’s 18 trucks must be kept in a garage. "We now have almost twice the space," he said.
The new location provides easy access to the Trans-Canada and Perimeter Highways.
In 2014, Moon will celebrate his 10th anniversary of buying the business. Having formerly worked in the banking industry, his previous duties included assessing businesses. He was looking for an opportunity to buy a business and decided that King’s had good economic fundamentals.
"It was in an industry that’s fairly recession-proof," he said.
King’s offers septic and vacuum truck service for residential and commercial customers. Moon said the septic service is less than 20% of his total business. The vacuum service is used to clean out sediment collecting in vehicle wash pits at car washes, car dealerships and rental businesses, and large companies with vehicle fleets.
"We try and give our customers a very high level of service," Moon said, adding that the septic service is available 24-7, although a higher price is charged during off-hours. However, a homeowner whose septic holding tank alarm is signalling full on a Saturday night or Christmas Day is usually willing to pay the extra cost.
Over half of King’s business comes from manufacturing, selling and renting portable toilets and trailers housing heated and spacious bathrooms with hot water. The manufacturing is done in Winkler.
"We just sent a load of trailers to Newfoundland," Moon said.
Provincial workplace health and safety regulations stipulate that companies must provide proper restroom facilities for their employees, no matter where they’re working.
As well as selling and renting the heated King Jon units, the company has insulated coverings to fit standard units and keep them warm inside.
"The only way our units freeze up is if the power shuts off or someone leaves the door open," he said.
Over the past 10 years, the company’s grown from employing nine people, operating eight trucks and having 300 portable toilet units for sale or rent to having a staff of 28, 18 trucks and more than 1,000 units. However, Moon wants to continue growing the company and is eyeing the north-central states as a potential new market.
"We get calls from there," he said, adding that most portable toilets used in these states are made in Indiana, where the weather conditions aren’t as cold as in North Dakota and Montana.
Another business area that could expand in coming years is hazardous waste disposal, and King’s also offers this service.