The return of the luxury porta-pot company Santa Rosa signals a strong local recovery from the pandemic
Measuring an economic recovery takes many conventional forms and factors such as labor market data, interest rates and housing starts.
Then there are the unconventional indicators. One of the best known is that of recreational vehicle shipments. On the wacky side, Alan Greenspan, economist and chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, said that an increase in sales of men’s underwear was good news for the economy.
If the pace of RV sales is any metric that helps gauge a national turnaround, in Sonoma County, I submit that strengthening customer demand for luxury public restroom rentals can be an economic barometer.
Let me explain. People have fun and spend more money by renting such portable toilets to enhance the experiences at outdoor weddings, wine events, birthdays, graduation parties and corporate parties, film locations and a variety of festivals in North Bay. They look for the lavish portaloos on the standard plastic porta-pots commonly used on construction sites.
Santa Rosa entrepreneur husband and wife Roman and Heather Seiffert who run the aptly named Fancy Flush company are experiencing a rebound in bookings for their 20 premium portable toilet trailers.
Renting between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000 for a week, these are public toilets on wheels. The Seifferts’ affairs calmed down for more than a year like many in the region, when events and rallies were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now event hosts are splurging once again by adding the fancy jars with the amenities to their wedding, party and festival plans.
The portable toilet on the estate offered by Fancy Flush is more like a powder room in someone’s house. It features men’s and women’s sections with solar power, color changing mood lighting, air conditioning, lavish French country wallpaper, hand towels, sinks, touchless toilets, large mirrors and even background music.
The exterior is painted to look like a house and comes with wooden doors and even green false hedges that hide the wheels.
“It doesn’t really look like a bathroom,” Roman, 38, said. “It looks more like a small house.
“We had people come to us after we delivered one and said, ‘It’s better than my bathroom at home. “”
Heather, 31, explained that when these portable toilets are installed in an event venue, they blend in like a building on the property. Judging by how they look, I think she’s kinda humble because these portaloo lux, VIP, and real estate models stand out more than they blend.
Her husband got his start in the standard plastic porta-pot business of her late father George Seiffert, who was one of the Sonoma County originals. When he died in 2007, Roman and his brother Chris inherited the business from their father and ran it for seven years.
In 2014, Roman and Heather imagined something grander, more luxurious. They decided to go upstream and launched Fancy Flush from their Santa Rosa home with a single public restroom trailer to provide customers with luxury portable thrones. At that time, there was a demand for them, but not a lot of supply.
“We could see lots of ways to improve what was already on the market,” said Roman, noting that he built the company’s first portable toilets. There was no air conditioning, background music or other amenities of their large estate toilets today. Nevertheless, he quickly attracted clients.
“When we started we were an immediate success,” Roman recalls.
He used his marketing expertise to develop a website for the company, design the company logos and together they created the catchy nickname Fancy Flush. Heather said they liked the alliterative double F’s, the same number of letters in each of the two words and the name “describes exactly what we’re doing.”
To their clients, the Seifferts are known as “fancy flushers”.
Now, you’ll see luxury Fancy Flush portable jars at around 500 events a year, mostly in Sonoma and Napa counties. The Seifferts employ three other people full time to help them clean and transport the toilet trailers, and they have an office manager.
For brand visibility and a “bit of bragging rights,” she said, this summer the couple entered their high-end portable toilets in America’s Best Public Toilet Competition. Hundreds of people entered the only annual national public restroom competition hosted by Cincinnati-based janitorial supplies giant Cintas.
Recently, Fancy Flush was chosen among the 10 finalists. Challengers include state-of-the-art restrooms at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, an eye-catching portaloo at Steamboat Springs Resort in Colorado, and modern, bright restaurant restrooms at an Asian restaurant in Atlanta.
The public can vote online until August 20 and will decide on the winner.
“We are truly the underdog,” said Roman, although Fancy Flush has the only portable public sink vying for the coveted title of “Throne of Thrones”.
Ironically, the Seifferts buy their portable toilet trailers, which typically cost $ 20,000 to $ 40,000, from manufacturers in northern Indiana, and then the couple modify and improve them. This is where most of the motorhomes in the country are made, and it is obviously also a key place to educate ourselves on the national and economic outlook.
Send your tips and ideas as this column chronicles the local economic recovery after the pandemic to [email protected] Call or text 215-237-4448. Or you can message @BiznewsPaulB on Twitter.