Spotlight: Porta Kleen diversifies creatively

A close-knit team of employees committed to serving their customers, savvy management that’s creative about finding and acting on opportunities to grow, and an industry willing to accept the challenge from customers to constantly upgrade services and equipment—it’s a recipe for prosperity for those poised to take their businesses to the next level. Porta Kleen of Lancaster, Ohio, is a shining example of such a business.

Fifteen years ago, after purchasing the Columbus, Ohio, branch of Waste Management, Inc.,
Monte Black launched Porta Kleen. Today, the company employs forty-eight people and has one of the largest mobile restroom and shower trailer fleets in the industry, with three dozen shower trailers and five dozen restroom trailers, as well as the five thousand single restroom units. It is managed by Larry Ailes, which makes it veteran-owned and -operated.

Most of the single units are deployed to construction and event customers in the region from the home office and branch locations in New Carlisle, Ohio, and Clay City, Kentucky. From these locations and additional Porta Kleen staging locations on the west coast, the company provides mobile shower, restroom, and laundry trailers to venues throughout the United States.

“We’ve had to work harder and be a bit more creative since jobs aren’t as plentiful as they had been,” explains Jennifer Kolmetz, Event Sales Manager and a member of the Porta Kleen team for more than nine years. The company has looked around to see where there is a gap in the industry, and then they found a way to fill it.

Porta Kleen recently launched its SecureKam mobile surveillance service, which can be controlled and viewed from anywhere in the world, provided there is internet access. It allows round-the-clock monitoring of construction sites, events, parking lots, and other sensitive sites.

The company is branching out in other areas as well. “We were awarded the portable sanitation contract for 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, running September 25 through October 10,” says Kolmetz. “It’s one of the exciting events we’re working on this year, and we’re in the middle of it right now.”

Held in the U.S. for the first time, the Games attract high-profile horses, owners, riders, caretakers, and crowds of spectators from around the world. Porta Kleen is providing 350 single units, including handicapped units and hand-wash stations, plus twenty-two restroom trailers and a shower trailer to augment the permanent facilities that are available to participants. The logistics that Kolmetz’s responsibilities include are setting up four campers onsite for Porta Kleen staff “so they are on hand at all times to restock and check things.”

Porta Kleen also holds the three-year shower contract for all Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walks in fifteen states, and since 2004, the company has provided shower facilities for the Avon Foundation’s breast cancer walks across the U.S.

Additionally, Porta Kleen provides shower services to twelve NASCAR tracks and is on the General Services Administration (GSA) schedule to provide equipment and services for trainings and other activities for the different branches of the armed services. Not only that, the company has done a great deal of business in Louisiana and the eastern Texas Gulf area, among other areas, for disaster relief.

Whatever the site or event or need, Kolmetz stresses that the creativity and hard work to get business continues until each job or project is completed.  “For events, we don’t just say, ‘sorry, you don’t have water or power, figure it out.’ We find water tankers or electric generators and help them come up with a game plan using our resources so [that] they can have a wedding in a desert scenario or an event in another remote location. We don’t make it the customer’s problem to figure it out.

“Customer service is our number-one priority. We provide attendants and service on call, and it’s one of the most important things we do that keeps our customers with us over the years. Although we all have our jobs and our areas of expertise, we all work together to make sure things happen the way they need to. A lot of our customers feel that we’re not just a vendor but part of the team that makes their event a success.”

Porta Kleen feels there are not many companies with which they compete directly.  “Not a lot of them provide all the different services that we do. That makes us different.”


By Anne Biggs

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