Urapeein Porta-Pots — Sophisticated Name and Exceptional Service!

Urapeein! What a rare assertion of pure originality onto the competitive porta-pot industry fray! Billings Montana is a small city with a medium-sized market for entrepreneurs in the portable restroom industry, due to the number of refineries in the area. Billings is fortunate to have added Urapeein to its business community about six years ago. But, the town really struck it lucky when the Connor Vogele picked up the reins last year and began taking Urapeein into a future of major growth.
With his parents, Kris and Beth on the team, Connor has already doubled the client base of the startup. The group is building the business’s assets on the typically thin shoestring resources of a brand new small business enterprise.
But, let’s go back to Urapeein’s recent new beginning…

Urapeein, Now and Then
The company was founded in 2012. Kris explains that the original owners had other priorities and didn’t really focus on the business during their last few years of ownership. They contacted us, and we acquired it.” The Vogeles had started an events service in 2017, and in March of this year they also acquired Urapeein.
Connor had worked for a local competitor for about two years, and he enjoyed it and thought he would like to own a portable restroom business. So, at under 25 years of age, Connor invested his life savings into Urapeein. Kris and Beth, Connor’s parents helped. They recognized their son’s potential and wanted to support his new entrepreneurial endeavor, and they had determined that acquiring another business made a lot of sense for the family at this time.
Now, in just the last eight months that Connor and his parents have been managing the company, Urapeein has grown its customer base by about 60%. Kris noted, “When we bought the business, it had about 78 toilets in service; we now have 140 contractor-grade toilet units.”
Those are mostly out on new construction and remodeling sites. The company had about 150 event customers at the time the Vogeles took over operations, and it has about 200 now. Kris notes, “We would like to increase the growth rate, but we just don’t have the employee power to do that right now.” Overall, Kris estimates that the business’s growth is about 65-70% for all services, at this early point, and for its contractor units segment, about 100% to-date.
The Vogele team took about 36 toilets to this year’s Relay for Life event. “We put in a lot of hours preparing for that event,” Beth mentioned. The company estimates that around 50% of Urapeein’s future business could be in special events. To date, Connor has provided portable restroom units for the Rocky Mountain College Aviation Competition, which included universities from the Rocky Mountain Region, including the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Kris went on to explain, “We have quite a large market here. There are a lot of refineries. We want to first know that we can handle it, that we can do a good job for them, and then we can service that industry. Currently, construction, public events, private events, and recreational vehicles are our main business. About 70% is construction, 20% events, 5% is RVs, and another 5% is residential events.”
The company currently has a four-truck fleet. Kris says that buying a brand new truck is something to look forward to for the future, but for now, the team is modestly starting out by working with all 2013 models and older.
Construction of a new shop for Urapeein is underway. The property owner of the Urapeein operations site is building the shop for the company’s work on the toilet units. The units are stored at the dedicated industrial yard at the shop site. The company also has an extra storage facility off-site, in addition to their yard and new shop. Kris mentioned the double-duty that the off-site storage does for Urapeein, “The additional storage also serves as a billboard for our company on a high-traffic road.”

Urapeein in Big Sky Country
Kris explained that Connor has worked in a Billings area refinery, and at numerous construction sites, and public events in the region. He says he’s learned how to organize, how to make the routes work a lot better, and how to maintain the trucks. “Connor’s experience and drive are our most valuable assets. He services all of the customer accounts and manages the portable units.”
Future Plans? “We really wanted to do things right as we build the business. In the next year we’ll be looking to hire more staff. We want to keep the business at an optimum level, where we can provide the best customer service. We have a 24-hour phone number. That convenience for our customers sets us apart in our market. Hopefully, we will get into some portable restroom products at some point, and scale that.
However, right now, we want to get the company farther along before we look at adding any new services. If we expand in the future, that would probably be in the area of septic services, adding some septic trucks to offer home plumbing and home sewer services. That would be ten years into the business though. We would need better equipment. Our real focus at this stage is just growing in the portable toilet market.”

Problems for Urapeein
Connor’s experience in the industry has been very important to the fledgling company. For one thing, as is universally the case across the portable restroom industry, the Vogeles identify one of their two biggest operational factors as truck maintenance and repairs. And, for another thing, Connor is his own entire staff right now, with the exception of some administrative help from mom and dad. Fortunately, his productivity is consistently maximal.
Big Issue #1: Vehicles — Kris explains, “The trucks run 9 to 10 hours, without turning off. So, naturally, truck maintenance and repairs are a major part of the business.” We do our own maintenance on the trucks—tank maintenance, oil changes, pump service. And, for major engine or turbo issues in diesels, we work with a nearby mechanic.”
Big Issue #2: Staffing — “Staffing is the other big issue. We want to position ourselves so we can pay a very good rate so we can hire some experienced individuals. It’s a tough job, and it’s kind of a unique industry. To succeed, an individual has to be mechanically inclined and also has to enjoy cleaning toilets, and they have to have what it takes to get the job done during winter weather.

Urapeein During Montana Winters
Urapeein, in the wind and snows of central Montana, must meet extreme challenges to maintain a normal flow of operation. Connor explains, “Our winter is challenging because of the need to use the methanol to keep the toilets from freezing, and more so because of the weather. The business is much more costly to operate in winter.”
He went on to explain, “During winter, we keep service trucks indoors. In mid-December it starts getting really cold here. Most temperatures are below 32 degrees, so making it out to sites for servicing units and just generally doing business is more difficult.”
However, it seems fair to say that it does appear that winter in Montana has met its match in Connor Vogele. He seems, for all of his pleasant, mild demeanor, to be a quite unstoppable force of nature himself. Industry and climatic challenges do not appear to be up to the challenge of resisting his progress toward his service commitments and goals.

Urapeein Revenue Streams
Asked how the company attracts new customers, Kris explained that the group sat down with a marketing firm and considered options, “We want to stick with the Urapeein brand. One of the things that attracted us was the unique name. Acquiring the name, and taking the original company out of the market as a future competitor were both motivations to obtain the business.”
So far, forgoing most of the digital and other marketing and operational resources and tools that large-market portable restroom businesses take for granted, Urapeein is relying on its major resource, Connor Vogele, for the bulk of its lead and revenue generation.
Beth Vogele offers, “Connor has a great service mind. He’s a great service talent.” She adds, “It’s funny that he’s been kind of a germ freak and now owns and runs a portable restroom business. Though, it seems that it helps him do his job better. He keeps things exceptionally clean for customers.”
The impressive young entrepreneur’s personability, strong service commitment and well-focused energy are business attractors. Adding his admirable quality of having an apparently mildly-amused perspective on the whole undertaking, the personal and professional traits of Connor Vogele have altogether forged a fascinating new brand with pretty spectacular scalability.
“We’re focused on marketing more so than branding right now. Our online presence through our Facebook page is very effective,” Kris mentioned. “We also have created some printed materials for contractors. Our contractors make up kind of a unique client base. They’re not on social media. They often just call because they like our name.”

Forces That May Affect Urapeein in the Future
“We’re in a fairly good sized market, which is attractive to the larger national brands,” Kris reasons, “but our price point is so low that it doesn’t make it as attractive for the large national players to decide to move to Billings. Our price is one of the lowest in the nation. So we don’t have the concern about being out-priced. We also don’t undercut our competitors on price. We really want to focus on offering the best service.”
He added, “The maintenance and weather issues will always be there. And, mileage is also a big factor in operating cost. In a large metro area, operating distances are not as long. A few of our routes are about 250 miles long. Those are costs that will always have to be carefully controlled.”
Asked about any cost-saving technologies used at Urapeein, Connor added, “We use GPS to navigate and save fuel and time.” And, Kris noted, “We also use an industry software program for inventory of our units and bookkeeping. We push everything into QuickBooks for accounting. It’s a time and cost saver.” Overall, the big thing for managing business risks in our case is to keep costs as low as possible.”

Distinguishing Features of Urapeein
The highly-brandable Connor Vogele service persona and his strong value-added service mode are already multiplying Urapeein’s customer base and rapidly building an estimable reputation for the new business. In addition, the Vogele family’s widespread generosity toward local nonprofits has already begun to help further set the young company apart in its market.
The Urapeein family team has serviced a number of local events for nonprofits, offering discounts to help them out. Kris notes that the Urapeein name also gets a lot of exposure at these events. Just this year the company has provided units for the Relay for Life, Little League, Boy Scouts, St. Jude Dream Home, State Soccer Championship for girls, and Rocky Mountain College Athletics. Beth mentions, “We love to give back to the community. But, it also definitely helps the business when people recognize your name.”
The Vogeles also own a local movie theater, and does some marketing for the two businesses in conjunction, help get the Urapeein name out. “Where crowds of people are, we can, of course, get the most exposure,” Kris explained. “Connor worked at the movie theater and knows a lot of our customers. The theater has a good online presence, with about 5,500 people who follow us. So, it makes sense to associate the two in our promotional efforts.”
“But,” Beth reflects, “The one thing that I think has helped our growth most is Connor’s work ethic and the pride he takes in his work. He’s very determined to provide an excellent product and add value to the service. We receive a lot of compliments from guys on the job sites about the way he does his job, the way he says ‘hi’ to everyone. Just that focus on interacting with our customers makes sure that they know who we are and we know who they are. That matters in our area.”
To the observer, it’s looks clear enough that the Vogeles’ possess a winning depth of commitment to the timeless business growth fundamentals of practical cost management and building on very strong positive word-of-mouth from delivering exceptional service. And, it is, of course, those defining business values of this dynamic and socially-conscious business team that are undoubtedly setting the future trajectory of Urapeein.

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