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Today we shine the spotlight on our Managing Director, Judith Weller, and her journey at Australian Portable Toilets so far.
When you were a kid, could you ever have imagined that you would be running a successful portable toilet business?
No! The furthest thing from my mind. Never. Nope. Not at all.
I worked in the hospitality industry for about twenty years running a small motel, and I really thought I would be in hospitality for the rest of my life.
So then how did you end up in portable toilets?
After we sold our motel, Daryn wanted a sea change with somewhere warmer than Tasmania. One of our sons, Maverick was already living in Queensland, and Lachie, another son, wanted to be in Queensland as well. It made sense to relocate to the sunny coast, so we began searching for businesses to take over and Australian Portable Toilets came up.
You’ve now been operating Australian Portable Toilets for 7 years which is an incredible achievement. How has the company changed since you started all that time ago?
Well, we’ve obviously expanded and tripled in size. We’ve relocated (again!) to Victoria to support the next stage of our growth – we now have a second warehouse in Dandenong, and next year, our Sydney warehouse will open.
But, even though we’ve been in the industry for seven years, we’re still only young. We still have a lot of significant changes we want to make and of course, develop our range further to suit our customers’ needs.
Is being customer-centric important to you?
Absolutely. Because we’re a family-owned and operated business, we pride ourselves on being hands-on. If someone has a problem, we’re available to talk them through it at any hour; we’ll travel interstate to go out to visit someone on site, and we’ll happily work on weekends if someone wants to come and view our showroom or collect an order.
What are some of the challenges with running a family-owned and operated business?
I think the hardest thing is you talk toilets all the time. Whether you’re sitting around the dinner table or out at an event somewhere, we’re always thinking of new ideas about what we can do. When we get together with the family, our sons always ask “Mum, how many toilets did you sell today?” and when our friends are at events, I’m always guaranteed to get a picture of a portable toilet with the question “Is this yours?!”
Needless to say, I have a LOT of pictures of toilets on my phone.
I can imagine! Must be pretty cool though to be out somewhere and see one of your toilets in action?
It is. I still remember the first day I sold my first toilet, I was so bloody excited!
There’s nothing like that first sale! In your current role now, you wear a few different hats – including management, sales, accounts, and logistics. What does an average day look like for you?
Can I be honest? My day starts at 6 am in my pyjamas at my desk!
I go through my emails and the bank reconciliations for about an hour before I drag myself away to have a shower. I’m usually back at my desk by 8 am to start the day, and most nights I’m tapping away until 7:30 pm. I don’t mind though – I love what I do, and I want people to know that we’re not just going to be here today and gone tomorrow.
So, what is on the horizon for Australian Portable Toilets?
The idea is just to keep growing and doing everything right. Once Sydney is established, we will look to open our fourth warehouse, and we will go from there. I can’t give away too much just yet!
Fine, leave us hanging! Before we let you get back to it – we’ve just got one last quick question. What’s your favourite product?
The Sewer Connect.
It’s just so versatile. It can be hooked directly up to a sewer point so there are savings to be made and it can be jazzed up with cool accessories, like RCD boxes. It makes a really excellent construction toilet.