Fancy Amenities Bring Comfort, Elegance—Yes, Elegance—to Portable Restrooms

Consider the lowly portable restroom—that serviceable, practical workhorse of construction sites and soccer fields around the country. For decades, the simple portable restroom has been relegated to back corners of parks, dusty edges of parking lots and other out-of-the-way settings; it is a necessary but rarely glamorous element of basic sanitation.
Manufacturers and others who supply odor-control and sanitizing chemicals can hardly be blamed for the lowly reputation that has saddled the industry. They provide specific recommendations for emptying and servicing the units. When the process is completed correctly, portable restrooms are clean, sanitary and virtually odor free.
The problem arises, according to those in the industry, when too few units are ordered for an event, or they are not emptied on a regular basis, or when providers skimp on additives to eliminate odors. More often, it has been the combination of all three that ultimately has lead to the industry’s less-than-glamorous reputation.
However, over the past several years, the status of the portable restroom has gotten a welcome upgrade—thanks to the increased acceptance of providing high-end units at fancy parties, receptions and other special events. Consider these specialty units the “city cousin” to the basic portable toilet, a cousin that may come equipped with iPod ports, shower stalls, family-friendly lounges and marble countertops.
One of the nation’s leading manufacturers of such units is Comforts of Home, a Montgomery, IL. company that produces units that would compare favorably to almost any in-home restroom.
Comforts of Home was founded in 2003, by Brad Martin, a mechanical engineer whose professional credits include a decade in design and manufacturing, plus experience in the portable restroom, septic and construction industries. The company can customize trailers for any use, from on-location movie sets to elaborate wedding receptions to VIP backstage areas.
In addition, Comforts of Home has an impressive array of ready-made units, most of which can be ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant and can be modified for direct sewer hookups. Some also feature so-called “drop box” construction with no trailers or other attached devices, requiring fewer steps.
The company sells or leases trailers that can accommodate twenty private stations or toilets, full showers, sinks, soft lighting and other features that would be welcome in any conventional bathroom.
Dirty clothes? No problem. Comforts of Home also manufactures laundry trailers with washers, dryers and folding tables. Heat, air conditioning, sound systems and tile floors are all also part of these luxury portable restroom units.
Brian DePriest is Sales Manager for another manufacturer, Wells Cargo, based in Elkhart, IN. The company has manufactured trailers for fifty years. Among its big sellers are restroom trailers with multiple, separate stalls, sinks and other amenities that are all standard in their units.
Last year, Wells Cargo introduced its Comfort Elite 10 Power-Flush Series of units. The toilets are vacuum-flush systems that are designed for high-demand events such as concerts and races of all types.
“There’s nothing out there like it,” DePriest said. “We are the first ones to put it out there in a mobile restroom. We introduced it at last year’s Pumper Show.”
The Comfort Elite 10 Power-Flush uses a macerating vacuum pump that can move waste up to 300 yards. The system grinds and liquefies waste, reducing storage needs. The system can also be connected directly to a sewer, offering virtually unlimited use.
Wells Cargo’s system is also “a total green solution because each toilet flushes with one quart of water; it uses air to flush the waste and cuts way down on the costs of fresh water,” DePriest explained. By reducing the amount of water needed to flush waste, storage and related waste charges are drastically cut, saving operators even more money.
DePriest said one of the company’s most well-received products has been its double ADA shower units, which feature separate shower and restroom areas for men and women.
“ADA has always been a hot topic in our industry,” DePriest said. “We have developed a completely compliant roll-in and roll–out, ADA-compliant shower with two separate, private rooms in the trailer. It has been welcomed with open arms and is popular with emergency response teams and others [who need such a unit]”.
PolyJohn Enterprises—another company in the industry—is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality products designed specifically for the portable sanitation industry. Company headquarters, which include more than 150,000 square feet of office space, manufacturing, warehousing and shipping, is located in Whiting, IN., about 20 miles from Chicago.
Like others in the industry, PolyJohn Enterprises recognized the demand for higher-end facilities. Over the past several years, the company has offered its "City Mains" unit. This upscale twist on a standard portable restroom has an interior similar to that of an aircraft restroom, said the company’s Managing Director, Mike Adams.
"City Mains" is designed to be hooked up to a fresh-water supply and flushes into a sewer system or septic-type tank just like a residential restroom. The company also offers three versions of individual shower units for high-end events, emergency sites and many other applications, Adams shared.
DePriest believes that there has been an increased acceptance of all-in-one restroom trailers. Special event planners and construction managers alike have seen the value of having such trailers available to guests and workers.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in the construction industries,” DePriest said, explaining that when workers are remodeling restrooms, a multi-use restroom trailer is a needed and welcome addition to the job site.
No one is implying that the standard single-seat portable toilet with a container of hand sanitizer on the wall will become obsolete. The low-cost but highly functional unit will always have a place at parks, ball fields, construction areas and other places where basic units easily handle basic sanitation needs. Yet, more elaborate and larger trailer units are wedging their way into the marketplace.
Perhaps this description from Wells Cargo describes it best: “In the face of ever-increasing environmental concerns, the sanitation industry is evolving. Special event and rental companies are now moving deeper into the industry by purchasing high-end sanitation units, more specifically, trailers.
“The consumer is demanding up-scaled facilities at functions and events. If the local sanitation companies do not keep up with these trends, they will end up losing market share. Those that do not evolve with these trends will find themselves restricted to pumping the units they could have made money with.
“Special event and rental companies can keep their units in clean and pristine shape, and many times will buy their own restroom trailers for that reason.”
DePriest warns that private sector companies, such as golf courses, marinas and others, are buying their own units. “The sanitation companies that do have trailers also need to make every effort possible to let all event planners and rental companies in their area know that up-scaled units are available with additional profit for the taking.”
“This is the new reality,” Wells Cargo predicts. “Are you in the game?”


Story by Marie Elium

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