The Pit Stop Gains Traction

Just like a racing pit crew, Pit Stop in Atlanta, Georgia keeps special events and construction sites running smoothly by working behind the scenes. Jeff and Terri Wigley began the Pit Stop in 1995 as their idea for an Olympic business.

“Jeff and I worked at IBM at the time,” says Terri. “When we started, we got some business from the Olympics. Although we didn’t try to get contracts with them, it helped to jump start our business which has continued to grow.”

Jeff’s love of racing and Formula 1 inspired the name Pit Stop. Pit crews are highly-skilled, quick, and efficient professionals. So like a pit crew, Jeff travelled to St. Louis to meet with Clyde Sansom, owner of Synergy World to become a highly-skilled professional when they started the company. “We were buying our portable units from Clyde, who also owned a service business,” says Jeff. “I spent a week riding with a driver and learning all aspects of the business so when I got back, I had a good idea what I was doing. It was nice to see, and learn from, a well-established operation.”

Although Satellite Industries has since bought Synergy World, they still make the same model unit that Jeff and Terri love with an 80-gallon tank, which allows for more use and lessens the need for twice-a-week service.

In the beginning, Jeff and Terri acquired a truck and 30 units. “We started slow and worked on good business practices and customer service,” says Terri. “We joined PSAI, Georgia Onsite Wastewater Association, and other groups to help us learn.” Terri has since served on the board of directors for GOWA as well as the Southeastern Festival and Event Association. She continues her involvement with different associations and groups that may be in need of their services.

The well-oiled pit crew at Pit Stop is rare in the portable restroom industry—it’s a certified woman-owned company. Using her knowledge of accounts receivables and running an office at IBM, Terri transitioned to running a small business. This has allowed them to become a certified woman-owned business.

A graduate of Kennesaw State University, Terri had the idea of becoming involved with the Small Business Development Center at the university. “They helped us get our first SBA loan and grow our business,” says Terri. “Since then, they’ve helped us buy two competitors, build and design our website, and develop marketing plans. Instead of their marketing students developing a plan for a fictitious company, they made one for us as one of their projects.”

“They are a great untapped resource,” says Jeff. “We’ve been a client since 1996 and they have helped us with every step of our progression. When we have a need, they are there to fill it.”

Jeff has relied on skills learned at IBM to help the business with sales forecasting, market analysis, and the numbers side of running a business. However, his role as president of PSAI kept him away for most of 2012, leaving Terri to take on his duties. “Our experience with IBM was a great training ground for us,” says Jeff. “But, I make more decisions in a day at Pit Stop than I did in six months at IBM. Small business owners have to make decisions all of the time.”

One of the decisions they made was to help Multiple Sclerosis charities. “My brother had MS,” says Jeff. “So we have worked with the charity for their walks and events. We donate all units for whatever event they need. It’s our way of giving back.”

As children, they were both involved in scouting and also give discounts to any Boy Scout or Girl Scout event when needed. Their sense of giving and great customer service has meant that they still have their very first customer, O’Donnell’s Christmas Tree Lot. “Ron O’Donnell is a landscaper in Atlanta,” says Jeff. “Even though we started the company in August of 1995, by the time we acquired everything we needed, it was almost the end of the year. We met with Ron, and right now, if you go to his lot, you can see a Pit Stop unit there. I remember being excited and thinking, ‘This is our very first customer. Where will this lead in the future?”

Their unflappable service has garnered them recognition from several organizations. They have been nominated for Small Business of the Year for their county, for the Georgia Family Business of the Year, and for the SBA’s Small Business of the Year. “Well, we’ve never brought home the Oscar, but it’s been an honor to be nominated for those awards,” says Jeff. “Each time, we’ve been the only portable restroom company ever to be nominated. I feel that it is helping the industry to break new ground.” Last year, however, they did win Vendor of the Year for the Southeastern Festival and Events Association.

Those nominations are due to providing good customer service. “We want to exceed customer expectations,” says Terri. “Unfortunately, customer expectations haven’t been too high in the industry. We value professionalism. We have uniforms and try to raise the image of the industry.”

“Terri does a lot of extra things,” says Jeff. “She sends hand-written thank you notes or other notes to acknowledge a big event in a customer’s life like a wedding or birth to show that she cares. She makes note if a customer is featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. She also adds her special touch with flower arrangements in the restroom trailers for weddings and things like that.”

The Wigleys like the development and popularity of the new line of restroom trailers. They own trailers from Ameri-Can and from JAG Mobile Solutions. “They make our industry look a lot more professional and put a different spin on it with the nice floors, paintings, and the whole 9-yards,” says Jeff. “I see more acceptance of portable restrooms as the lines of products continue to improve.”

Jeff also foresees portable hand wash stations becoming more prevalent on constructions sites. “We rent a lot of portable sinks for special events like ‘A Taste Of’ festivals. I think that they will find their way over to commercial construction as well.”

“The need for education is going to increase in importance,” says Terri. “Georgia is getting ready to pass laws where portable restroom operators will need certification either through the state or PSAI. The whole issue is training and being aware of proper standards for servicing and public health.”

Now that Pit Stop has grown to 11 employees, seven in the field and four in the office, optimization is key to maintaining a fast and efficient pit crew. To help with that, the Wigleys use RouteOptix to keep their Keith Huber trucks on the track. “We’ve had it for about seven years now.” says Terri. “It’s great software that is downloadable to Garmin. They constantly improve their product and customer service is second to none.”

With their finger on the pulse of the industry, the folks at Pit Stop are geared to stay ahead of the curve by keeping their customers up and running like any professional pit crew would.

Story by Jennifer Taylor


For more information:

Pit Stop,
American Engineering Portable Restrooms,
JAG Mobile Solutions,
Keith Huber,
Satellite Industries,

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