Marietta couple thrives with high-end portable potties
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
November 24, 2009 01:00 AM | 3592 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pit Stop co-owners Terri and Jeff Wigley stand outside of their new, high-end portable restroom called Sunflower Suites, which is designed for upscale outdoor events.
Pit Stop co-owners Terri and Jeff Wigley stand outside of their new, high-end portable restroom called Sunflower Suites, which is designed for upscale outdoor events.
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MARIETTA - Leaving cushy jobs at IBM to start a business in the portable toilet industry may have been a gamble, but for Marietta residents Terri Wigley and her husband, Jeff Wigley, it was the right move.

Since founding the portable restroom company Pit Stop in 1995, the two have carved out a niche in the industry by bringing a touch of sophistication to a product that's more practical than polished. They recently began marketing high-end Sunflower Suites for upscale events such as weddings and corporate gatherings.

Since 1999, Pit Stop's annual sales have consistently exceeded $1 million, according to the Hiram-based company. For 2010, sales are projected to increase by 20 percent.

Terri Wigley, Pit Stop's president, said the public is largely unaware of her products, which are much different from regular portable toilets.

"There is something else available," said Terri, 46. "They don't have to go in the small, plastic houses."

Sunflower Suites are 22-by-8 foot trailers that are divided between men's and women's restrooms. The men's side has two stalls, three urinals and a vanity with a sink and mirror. The female restroom has four stalls and two vanities. The entire trailer has electricity, running water, heating and air conditioning, and is operated by attendants.

"We just wanted to raise the standard," said Jeff Wigley, 48.

The cost to rent a Sunflower Suite is $2,000 per day.

Pit Stop does have common portable toilet models, including a fleet of 2,000 4-by-4 foot restrooms that are largely used on construction sites. They each cost $90 to rent daily, and 8-by-10 foot models are $900 daily.

However, the Wigleys have set their sights on the high-end portable toilets.

"There's a huge market and we're learning more about what's out there," Terri Wigley said.

In 2006, Pit Stop purchased a second competitor that doubled the capacity of the business. It now has 13 employees, including administrative and event staff, and truck drivers.

The downturn in the real estate market has meant that fewer construction crews need fewer portable toilets. So the Wigleys have turned their business to festivals and more upscale social events, particularly weddings. They say there's been a big trend in the wedding industry to conduct ceremonies outdoors.

The Wigleys both worked as business analysts at IBM before starting the company. Their hope was to capitalize on the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. But by then, most venues had already been secured. However, the Wigleys said they were able to make a lot of business contacts.

Pit Stop now caters to roughly 600 events annually.

Terri Wigley said the looks on users faces are priceless when they first step inside the trailer units.

"People are wowed," she said. "They don't even know that anything like that exists in most cases."
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