Word-of-Mouth Is the Best Advertising for Sherry and Eric Storts

Spotless restroom equipment attracts new customers and keeps the dollars flowing for Ohio’s Mr. Clean Port-A-Potties

Word-of-Mouth Is the Best Advertising for Sherry and Eric Storts

The Mr. Clean crew includes, from left, Tony Rozmus, Evan Storts, Eric Storts, Sherry Storts, Zach Storts, Cameron Doggett and Tim Naff. They are shown at an antique show and flea market. The company’s fleet comes from Robinson Vacuum Tanks, Advance Pump & Equipment, Best Enterprises and Imperial Industries. (Photos by J.D. Pooley)

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When Sherry and Eric Storts bought Mr. Clean Port-A-Potties in 2008 — a company with just one service truck and 34 restrooms — they envisioned it as a supplemental source of income, not a career- or life-changing investment.

“Eric had always wanted to run a business and thought this might be a pretty good part-time gig,” says Sherry Storts. “With just 34 restrooms and one truck, he figured he could keep up with it.

“So we decided to do it — test the waters and see how it goes.”

But by 2011, the Springfield, Ohio-based company had grown so large that Eric quit his job as a diesel mechanic. Sherry followed suit the same year, leaving her position in a high school cafeteria to work the business full time. 

Today the company employs five people and owns about 1,000 restrooms, eight service vehicles, 16 restroom trailers and numerous hand-wash stations, sanitation stands and holding tanks. Monthly restroom rentals generate about 70% of revenue and special events contribute the balance.

“Things just kind of took off,” Storts says. “It’s just crazy how it happened. We didn’t do that much marketing — things just sort of kept falling into our laps.”

The Storts’ experience speaks volumes about the importance of providing great customer service, which leads to word-of-mouth referrals — the most valuable kind of advertising, as well as the least expensive. Their success also underscores the value of investing in productivity, enhancing equipment and recognizing new markets — in this case special events — that can generate new revenue streams.


What is the Storts’ secret sauce for success? It’s a pretty basic recipe: Provide prompt service. Clean restrooms like they’re your own. And answer the phone 24/7.

“It’s funny how the little things make such a big difference,” Storts says of the company’s stick-to-the-basics business philosophy.

Merely answering the phone is an extremely effective and inexpensive way to cultivate customers. A number of clients — especially construction contractors — have told Storts they find it very difficult to find portable restroom companies that will call them back, much less answer a phone call in person.

“It’s a little thing, but it’s a big deal for people,” Storts says. “There have been times when Eric has answered the phone and booked restrooms at 1 a.m. People usually apologize and tell him they were expecting to get an answering machine, not actually talk to someone that late at night.”

Responding quickly to customers’ needs also boosted word-of-mouth referrals. Helping special-event customers out of a jam goes a long way to creating loyalty.

“Once you bail them out, they never waver from using you again,” she says. “We get a lot of business that way.”

Of course, providing great service requires reliable, hard-working employees. The couple relies heavily on three full-time technicians: Eric’s retired uncle, John Brown; Cameron Doggett; and Tim Naff. Steve Judy also chips in as a part-time route driver, while Tyler Baughman and Tony Rozmus help out two to three days a week during peak season, Storts says.

“They’re a good group of guys who really know what they’re doing,” she says. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them. We’re very lucky.”


Initially, Mr. Clean only did monthly rentals, primarily for farmers and local cemeteries. But business mushroomed. The company serves a diverse range of customers for monthly rentals that developed organically. For example, Storts says in 2020, the business rented two three-stall and two four-stall restroom trailers to a large company for a big remodeling project.

But when the two-year project was completed, the company decided to keep two trailers on hand for employees to use, then later opted to rent just one 10-stall trailer.

“They said the trailer unit is kind of handy to have around,” Storts notes. “You just never know where things will lead.”

The company also recently rented 50 restrooms for about 10 months to a construction company building an Amazon distribution center in Dayton, Ohio. Route drivers also delivered water to and pumped out waste from three job site construction offices. The restrooms were cleaned three times a week, she says.

Construction supervisors often change jobs within the industry, which further enhances growth opportunities — provided they received customer service good enough to warrant maintaining the relationship, Storts says.


In September 2009, the business tackled its first special event, a one-day festival called CultureFest that celebrates diversity with music, food and entertainment.

Now the company provides restrooms for roughly 40 special events a year, including festivals, weddings, concerts and bigger occasions, such as the Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market Extravaganza, a four-day event held twice a year at the Clark County Fairgrounds, about 20 miles northeast of Dayton in west-central Ohio.

Mr. Clean also provides restrooms and restroom trailers for the Cornfield Shows, an annual series of performances organized by nationally known comedian Dave Chappelle at a venue called the Wirrig Pavilion in Yellow Springs. Chapelle lives in Yellow Springs, which is about 10 miles south of Springfield.

The shows, which began in 2020, have included appearances by prominent comedians such as David Letterman, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Jim Carey and Jon Stewart, as well as other music, television and movie stars. The venue holds about 1,000 people.

As the company’s special-event business grew, in part by putting business cards inside restroom trailers, so did its inventory of equipment. The company now owns 16 restroom trailers from Rich Specialty Trailers, JAG Mobile Solutions, A Restroom Trailer Co. (ART), Comforts of Home Services Inc. and Lang Specialty Trailers.


The company’s restrooms are mostly from PolyJohn, along with units from Satellite Industries and J&J Portable Sanitation Products; 50 hand-wash stations are from Satellite and PolyJohn; roughly two dozen 300-gallon holding tanks and approximately 50 hand-sanitation stands, are mostly from PolyJohn; three flatbed trailers that can hold 10 restrooms each, one made by McKee Technologies and the others fabricated in-house; and a 10-sink trailer from McKee Technologies.

All the trucks were built out of Ford F-550 chassis by Robinson Vacuum Tanks, Advance Pump & Equipment, Best Enterprises and Imperial Industries. Most of the trucks feature stainless steel tanks; the rest carry aluminum tanks. Most of them are equipped with Masport vacuum pumps, plus a few from Conde (a brand owned by Westmoor Ltd.), Fruitland Manufacturing and National Vacuum Equipment .

Most of the tank capacities are 650 gallons waste/300 gallons freshwater. The smallest tank is a slide-in unit with a 400-gallon waste/200-gallon freshwater tank and the biggest one carries 800 gallons of waste/400 gallons of freshwater.

Most of the company’s trucks are about five years old or less. Newer trucks pay dividends by minimizing breakdowns that can quickly fracture relationships with customers. And newer, well-maintained trucks make a good visual impression and enhance the company’s professional image, Storts says.

“I still remember when we bought our first new truck,” she says. It was a 2016 Ford F-550 with a 680-gallon waste/300-gallon freshwater steel tank made by Imperial Industries.

“I remember how we used to walk around the Pumper show (the Pumper and Cleaner Environmental Expo International, now called the WWETT Show) and look at the trucks and talk about how we couldn’t wait to buy our first brand-new truck,” she recalls. “Buying that truck was one of our proudest moments.”


As Storts looks back to where things started 15 years ago, she still marvels at how the company grew with a marketing program that essentially consisted only of word-of-mouth referrals, a website, a Facebook page and business cards.

“Did we ever anticipate getting this big? Heavens, no,” she says. “We never expected this kind of growth.

“But on the other hand, Eric and I are very competitive and hungry,” she continues. “So when things started rolling, we decided to push it as hard as we could to see how far we could take it.”

In 2023, the couple plans to literally take the company out even further by establishing a foothold in the Columbus area, about 50 miles east of Springfield.

“We’re hoping to hire a couple more good guys, plus hire an office worker who can handle the phones,” Storts explains. “I like to get in a truck with Eric and help him out, so to do more of that I need someone to handle things in the office while I’m gone.

“The only thing that might slow us down is if we can’t find more drivers,” she continues. “But we’re definitely still in growth mode — ready to push harder and further broaden our business horizons.”


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