Finding a Niche With Luxury Restroom Trailers

Be patient and show the value of these units to potential customers and your big investment will pay off.
Finding a Niche With Luxury Restroom Trailers
The market for luxury restroom trailers has grown as customers become more aware of their options. (Photos courtesy of Stone Industries.)

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Rich Marriott is a prime example of stick-to-it-iveness. And for him and his company, that drive has paid off.

Marriott, co-owner (with his brother Charles) of Stone Industries, a waste management company in Saratoga, New York, bought one restroom trailer — an ACSI model — about 15 years ago.

“I saw some at the Pumper Show and thought it would be a good idea,” says Marriott. “Initially, it just sat around. The market wasn’t really ready for it.”

Still, despite the fact that he had trouble renting the trailer, “A few years later, even though we hadn’t gotten much traction, we bought another,” — a fancier ACSI six-stall model.

“People didn’t know that we had them; it was still very much like a niche, off-to-the-side product,” Marriott admits. “It went out a few times a year.”

But after making this sizable investment, Marriott persevered, feeling the trailers would soon take off. About five to six years later, he says, “People started to know that restroom trailers, in general, existed. I think you really just had to go inside a trailer to realize that there had to be interest in them.”

A good investment
Today, aside from the 2,000 portable restrooms in his inventory (most PolyPortables and some ADA units from PolyJohn), Stone Industries has around 20 multi-stall restroom trailers, most made by Rich Specialty Trailers and one by Comforts of Home, including those two older ACSI trailers. “You can’t kill ACSI units,” says Marriott.

Marriott believes in brand loyalty — all his trucks are Ford and the majority of his trailers are made by Rich Specialty. “We tend to run our whole business that way: find a vendor or manufacturer that works for us and stick with it,” he says.

“When we got to Rich, we got very good service from those guys. They did a nice job supporting us; we kind of got the recipe right,” he says. “You just kind of build that relationship.

“Long term, (luxury trailers have) been a good division,” he adds. “I think you’ll continue to see nicer events will want to be able to utilize restroom trailers.”

Stone Industries is located in upstate New York, about 30 miles north of Albany, in a mixed urban and rural area. Marriott says the area is quite competitive in terms of waste management services. “A customer could get four or five quotes on a restroom trailer,” he says.

But he notes that in summer, most of his 20 units (the largest is a 10-stall) can be out at a time.

“As the awareness has grown, the market has changed,” he says. “They’ve become in demand at more events.” While Stone used to rent trailers primarily to high-end weddings, they now see them requested at less formal events, even a college graduation party.

“People were bringing people back to see the bathrooms!” Marriott says. “They were saying, ‘This is nicer than my bathroom at home.’”

The amenities of trailers — nicer toilet paper and soap, for example — don’t come without expense, of course. And Marriott says that customers do balk at the price all the time.

“They’re expensive to buy, expensive to maintain,” he says. “You have to have a much higher caliber of employee or owner servicing them.” Marriott has certain staffers just assigned to trailers, although they usually do not have trailer attendants (but will offer one, at additional cost, if requested).

“They’re a product that has some challenges.”

Among those challenges is the logistic issue of needing two separate 20-amp power circuits and a hose available nearby. “Deliveries can sometimes take a while,” Marriott admits.

From all those years ago not being able to rent those costly trailers, Marriott now finds that business comes to them — and he finds that often, the decision to get a trailer “tends to be a decision that is pushed by a woman.”

Stone Industries advertises its trailers on its website, but Marriott adds, “I think most of our business tends to be word-of-mouth.”

Marriott never looks back and regrets that “stick-to-it-iveness” that kept him in the trailer business.

“We try to manage the fleet so the two or three busiest weekends of the year, we have everything out,” he says.

After that, it’s a matter of maintaining customer service as special as the trailers themselves are. “You take care of your customers,” he says. “When the customer is putting out that kind of money, they want it nice.”


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