Imperial Restrooms, Albany NY

In early 2008, a new luxury niche service brought something unique to the Florida wedding and special events market. Edward Garcia opened the doors of Imperial Restrooms, Inc. and began delivering luxury portable restroom rental services in the sunshine state. From the start, the demand for luxury services in the Florida portable restrooms market was high. So, Imperial was a hit!
Public works departments in the region, events planners and anyone looking to have an outdoor event found an unmatched opportunity to offer their guests the unique comfort and convenience of Imperial’s high-end facilities. Back then, with only three trailers, Garcia made a big impact. Today, more than ten times that number of Imperial Restrooms’ luxurious trailers are on sites at public and private events in New York, the greater northeast United States, and Florida.
Here, Ed tells the story of how it all began. He talks about Imperial’s growth over the years, and he offers some important insights into the east coast market’s luxury rental space:
The Birth of the Imperial Enterprise
When I launched the startup more than a decade ago, I had an IT guy, Tom, who helped me start the business. Originally, I had owned a standard porta potty rental company, and I had started getting a lot of calls for upgraded restroom trailers. So, I started trying to come up with elegant names, and that’s how the Imperial identity was formed.
There was a different website in the beginning. I worked with Steve, our current IT guy, to develop it. My secretary and I started putting together bits and pieces of content for it, based on what people were asking about, and I picked some colors I liked for it.
In 2008, in Pasco County, FL my old partner had a very large septic company. I had gotten off of active duty from the Air Force. I’m a pilot, and I needed a place to fly part time. I started managing his septic company, then I opened the restroom business, and he bought in, and just a couple of years ago I bought him out.
Around 2009 or 2010, we started getting calls for service along the east coast, including up in New York and throughout the northeast. I took a chance and got a business license in New York, and about five years ago I put a full-time person up in New York, rented a yard, and bought a mixed-use house and garage as a base for operations.
We now provide service up and down the east coast. We have about 3 dozen trailers, ranging from upscale restrooms to shower trailers with toilets. Most of the trailers are JAG, but we also have some older Wells Cargo and Forest River models.
Imperial Equipment and Operations
Our website is updated about every six months or so, to add information about all the units we have. In fact, it’s due to be updated now, so we offer more than is showing on the site at the moment.
We have Industrial-style, midline, and luxury units for all occasions. In addition, we ADA units in those ranges, and units that contain showers and toilets in the same trailer. We offer several trailers for use at emergency sites, such as hurricane damage locations and other disaster sites, and we deliver trailers to marinas, sports events, camp grounds, and countless other places. Currently, we have a JAG Mobile Solutions Eight stall shower trailer being built, which we’ll add to our existing selection of models. It’s being delivered in September.
Imperial mostly services the northeast United States and Florida. We have seven people working out in the field, including me, and we have two ladies in the office. Our sales rep takes sales calls during normal hours, and we’ve got a manager who helps customers and takes some sales calls. The office takes about 80 percent of those calls, and I take the big calls for sales.
From Air Force to Entrepreneurship
My undergrad training was at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I received a pilot slot, and I became a jet pilot training instructor. I’ve also worked over the years as one of the hurricane hunters. I flew Katrina, Ivan and others. This may be my last hurricane season (2019).
I have a master’s degree in HR management from Troy University. When I got off of active duty, I was looking for something to do. My old partner suggested that I come work with him, and he pointed out that I could fly too. I did that for about six years. Now I work full time in the restroom rentals and fly a couple of days per month for the Air Force, keeping my currencies and requisites up, and doing some training lines or a mission, as needed.
I’ll be retiring soon (in October), after 28 years between active duty and the Air Force Reserves, unless I get extended. That’s a possibility, but I’m not sure.
Strategic Growth Plan for Imperial
We get most of our business from word of mouth and the internet. I should go out and do sales calls and marketing, but we’re growing at a manageable rate with the amount of business we have coming from website and the internet. It’s a lot for us to handle, as it is.
I don’t’ want to grow too fast or too slow. It’s got to continue to be just right, so we can handle it well. We’ve done thousands of events. With only seven people, we have a lot on our plates. It’s a never-ending pace.
The business plan is to keep expanding to add more locations between New York and Florida. My goal is to be nationwide and, one day, if my kids take it over, to go farther than that.
Imperial Team Building
Our staff is excellent. My one New York employee, Steve, has been with me 11 years. My Executive Assistant, Kathy has been here 7 years, and our Manager, Tony has been with us 5 years, and Mirka, who works in the office, has been with us about a year. My wife, Edith helps with the books. We have excellent drivers, and altogether, the entire team does a fantastic job.
We all want to take care of our families. With 401K matching, medical and vacations, everyone can care for their families and feel secure. Take care of the employees, and everything else happens.
But, our number one challenge is still people. One of the biggest difficulties is hiring drivers and keeping them. It takes a lot of time to train them and for them to become well-skilled. Another challenge is trying to get people to coexist and understand. I try to emphasize how much we affect each other, and how their part makes the business grow, and that harmony is the only way we do this. Otherwise, we can’t work well.
State-of-the-Art Technology-Enabled Systems
All of our phone systems are virtual-based. All website generations come in onto the phone. GPS tracks where things are on the sites. Everything is done electronically. After each job is set up, the customer is taken through everything, and receives an explanation of what happens and how, and what to do if there’s a problem, etc.
We have problem solving sheets. We use those as part of the setup, for safety and insurance purposes. All trailers are photographed, showing how they were set up and what they look like when they’re left at the customer’s site.
We’re all driving, setting up, and putting things in place. Kathy also has all the knowledge of what to do and where. Our communications system issues calls to staff members in real time, funneling them to the management team. Everyone is adept with issue handling and knows how to escalate to me, as necessary.
Value-Added Services from Imperial
We’ve found that a lot of customers really prefer to decorate the restrooms with their own items. So, we’ve moved away from doing much decorating for them as a routine part of the delivery. If a customer asks for it, we provide some décor. They may want to decorate outside or inside. They can even alter the trailer if they want to, as long as they pay the cost of restoring it to its original design.
Imperial provides an attendant, to stay on-site during a customer’s event, if they want that service. We rent small, quiet-running generators to power the trailers, for customers whose sites don’t have power available where the trailer will be located. The rentals are from one-day to long-term.
We run five trucks. There are tanks on three of them. All the trucks are newer 2017/2018 Dodges and 2018 Fords, except for a 2006 F-350. We don’t need to wait for local septic services to pump out our trailers. We’re licensed to transport waste in both Florida and New York.
Branding for Upscale Niche
I have gone the opposite direction from the conventional wisdom on logos, and do not put the logo on my trailers. Some of the oldest of my construction-grade toilet units still have our logo on them. But, on the luxury units, the exteriors are pristine. None of my advertising is on there. A lot of higher-end customers don’t like logos on there, so I’ve taken that approach.
That has also really helped me when other restroom rental companies need something for their customers and come to me. They naturally don’t want our logos displayed at the events they’re servicing. We’ve got signage that we can stick in ground to identify our company, when we provide use of trailers as donations at events.
We have to work on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Steve, our IT guy, started on that work for us. But, trying to keep it up is very difficult. We definitely need to do more social media work, as a high priority.
Imperial Quality
Attention to detail is everything. The smallest thing can cause us problems. I tell the staff that the little things can bite us. Our business is upscale most of the time, weddings and companies’ special events. Focus on quality is the most critical thing to instill in employees. Our customers expect professionalism, and we must be 100 percent at all times.
We’re constantly asking customers what they liked and didn’t like throughout the process, from the proposal, to booking their event, during the event, and afterward. We want to know how they feel that everything went, and we want to make sure they’re satisfied before they leave.
That’s a very different process, of course, then getting people’s actual Google reviews. Customers tell us that they love everything about our products and service, but when it comes time to do the online review, it’s very difficult to motivate busy people to take time to do it.
Potential Future Challenges for Imperial
Obviously, the economy is a big, big factor. We started the business in 2008, during the great recession. We’ve been able to grow the business ever since. I don’t see anything else potentially limiting us in the future. Even though more people are coming into the industry, there’s so much work to do, it seems like a very promising future.
Advice for New Market Entrants from Ed Garcia
For those people who are looking to come into this business, I’d suggest to just be prepared to be a mobile RV repair person, a wholesaler, and to work closely with your parts distributor. Just get ready for fixing things. You need to be somewhat handy, so be prepared for that.
That’s one of the biggest things that took me by surprise. As a hands-on owner, I’m constantly fixing things to make everything pristine. Because, if things run down, no one’s going to want to rent them. Also, you have to have perseverance. Just be willing to go outside the box and deal with everything that comes along.
Imperial Impressions
Spending time talking to Ed Garcia, we recognize the image of entrepreneurial excellence that always stands out in our industry among the best portable restroom rental business owners and managers. The meticulousness of his quality management process, his diligence in obtaining customer feedback, and intense focus on customer satisfaction stand out from the industry as features of the top tier of providers in terms of service management.
Further, his recognition of the overarching importance of fostering a team culture of mutual support are hallmarks of our strongest industry leaders.
Ed’s open reflections on objectives he’s eager to achieve in building his sales program, and particularly in increasing Imperial’s presence across all the major social platforms are signals of a company very much on the move.
Ed Garcia’s east-coast Imperial Restrooms is certainly a company whose growth we look forward to watching.


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