Adding Mutually Beneficial Services Can Boost Your Business

In pursuit of construction clients, adding fence rentals to portable restroom offerings helped Southwest Site Services take off

Adding Mutually Beneficial Services Can Boost Your Business

Steve Morales, Sr. (left) and son Steve Jr. pose for a portrait outside of Southwest Site Services in Riverside, California. (Photo By Collin Chappelle)

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We’ve all heard of symbiosis between different species of animals, but what about symbiotic relationships between two very different service offerings? That’s what Steve Morales Sr. has going with Southwest Site Services of Riverside, California.

Morales, president and CEO of the company, had already pivoted his portable restroom business sharply from agricultural clients to construction clients building on farmland sold to developers. But when he noticed the large number of fences going up at construction sites, he prompted his son, COO Steve Morales Jr. to start adding fence rentals to the company’s offerings.

“Fences give you a chance to get the portable restroom contracts with homebuilders, and portable restrooms help you get the fence contracts,” says Morales Jr. “It’s sometimes difficult to break in with a new homebuilder unless you offer both services to begin with. These are self-re-enforcing lines of business.”

Morales notes that adopting the new business in late 2013 involved a significant learning curve. Beginning with small installations, crews initially drove fence posts in by hand, using sweat and sledgehammers.

“We knew there had to be a better way, so we started watching the other installers,” he says. “We quickly bought an air-driven fence post driver by Rhino Tools and an air-compressor trailer to cut down on the human labor we were putting out. It made life a lot easier.”

Southwest offers both roll-fencing and modular panels, most often supplied by Builders Fence Company Inc. The company started off with a small inventory, but demand required a rapid ramp-up in supply. Today, the company offers 150,000 linear feet of rental fencing from a half-acre leased property exclusively devoted to fence storage. Often, the storage area is completely empty, with all fence components rented out.

Assessing the inventory

“You have to gauge your future needs carefully,” says Morales. “If we need a lot of new fence footage we have to count on about two months to get the next shipment from China. We also had to learn a thing or two about importing products from another country.”

Most of the fence rental customers are in construction, with about 15 percent of the inventory devoted to special events. Typically, event rentals for fencing go hand-in-hand with portable restroom rentals.

When Southwest needs specialized fence components, usually for special events, the company will modify existing components or manufacture new ones in its own welding shop. The most common custom units include components such as gates or pedestrian access units.

Fences often take a beating, mauled by excavators and other construction equipment. Southwest will straighten, weld and repaint any damaged components to reflect the company’s professionalism.

Maintenance calls are minimal. Occasionally fences will blow down or builders will call the crews back to relocate a section of fencing as the construction site changes.

“You need to treat fencing with the same degree of care that you operate your portable restroom business,” says Morales. “You need to keep fences straight, level and even. The fence is the first thing that visitors to a builder’s site see and it’s the builder’s face to the community.”


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