Trail-Blazing With Alaska Porta Potty, LLC, Anchorage AK!

Every story of a business startup is arguably unique, with its personal motivators, historical lead-up, and individual challenges overcome. But, this company operating out of Anchorage Alaska is truly in a class of its own. There’s unique, and then there’s this: an extraordinary outfit with an intrepid owner and staff who’ll go just about anywhere anytime you need them into almost any environment of The Last Frontier. Exaggeration? No. What about rental product and service quality functioning in that kind of situation? Oh yes, excellence is the defining feature of the unusual service package.

Inspiration to Independence

So, how does a local boy go from a perfectly good regional job in the septic industry to launching a niche brand that will go just about anywhere by any form of motorized transportation? And, what would inspire him to take on outback accounts across the tundra, in the mountains, pretty much regardless of anything you can imagine preventing more conventional portable restroom service providers from delivering?

Frank Perez was that guy with a traditional job working for a large septic services company with lots of people. He tells the story: We were basically doing the same thing I’m doing now. I was going all over the state. I do cover the same area that we operated in; it’s just that scheduling-wise, now I can make it work better. I have control over my commitments and logistics. So, that way I don’t have to miss ballet recitals, or first baseball games, or other important family events. That was the reason I chose to make the change — to spend more time with my family.

In May 2018, we opened our doors. I had been working in the industry for quite some time, with long hours, doing everything around the state. I wanted to get to have my wife working with me and take my daughter, Persasis(Pur-say-iss), and my dog, Duke (a Labrador Retriever), with me. My dog is always with me (an outback Alaskan security benefit). Sarah, my wife, does all the billing and runs the office. There are five of us, including myself, Sarah, one part-time, and two full-time employees.

Entrepreneurial Leap in Anchorage Alaska

It was hard during the first year. The porta potty liquid waste industry ramps up, comes online, and is a part of seasonal stuff here. We started in May, which is very late into the season. It was a grind. It went very slowly in the beginning. Then, things started picking up but then slowed again. It was a challenge to find a way to make business flow more smoothly. 

But, the next year (2018), it exploded, because of urgent services needed after the 7.3 earthquake. I went from wondering if I needed to get a part-time job to dropping off whole loads of porta potties at a time.

Spectacular Growth of an Alaskan Startup

We have basically doubled in inventory and revenues every year since we started, though our coverage area is about the same. That’s because we’ve always had the same area to compete in with the larger companies here in Alaska. But, we’ve been able to get a different clientele with the equipment I’ve got. That is what sets us apart. We can go places our competitors can’t. 

A small tank I have can be put on the back of a pickup and taken into terrain that regular tank trucks cannot access. We’ve gone down some goat trails with that truck. I didn’t realize it was a thing until the tank inspector had to do an inspection. (Regarding the tariff charge to empty the liquid waste.) The inspector said the tank I was using was the smallest he had ever seen. 

That was by design, specifically to service areas that cannot be accessed with a larger tank. For example, the State of Alaska hired us to go down a cliff trail. And, the smallest tank I use is the only one light enough to cross some bridges that have low maximum weight limits. 

In the beginning, it accounted for a large percentage of our revenue, but not anymore. Still, the coolest one (service call) is when we have to take the little tank and drive up north to Chickaloon, Alaska. It’s a little town. You can get to it directly from the highway, but the customers in that area live off-grid. You have to go on a dirt road. Then, there’s no road. I can’t get my truck back there. So, you have to take a 4-wheeler, airplane, or snow machine (Alaskan term for snowmobile) to reach their locations. But, there’s a modified snow machine called a cargo sled. It’s very cool.

I’m picking up one today (porta potty) that’s only accessible by rail or plane to take it to Red Dog Mine. In some cases, you have to load it up on a barge and sail the sea to a remote location. And, it’s all weather-dependent, of course. In some cases, we call ahead to arrange with multiple remotely located customers to meet at the same time, so they can get help together.

We also have a very large military presence here in the state to serve the gulf and the arctic. We are a U.S. military contractor. That’s an area of our business that we are continually growing. (You can see Alaska Porta Potty units in the background behind some of our military’s most exciting equipment images.) We want to do our part to support our armed services in any way they need us to help them be mission-ready.

Marketing Purity in Alaska

Our new business is all from word-of-mouth. We have done almost no marketing. In reality, I’ve only spent about $200 on advertising since 2018. My approach to generating business is to have morning coffee and just start up a conversation. We started off with just 60 customers. Now we’re over 1,000. 

Even with being so remote up here in Alaska, it’s a big industry. Anchorage is a major international transport hub. We have clients from all over the world. But, the (porta potty) industry here is also controlled by only about four major companies. 

For our identification, we use magnetic signage to display the logo on our trucks. For example, when we go onto the military base we must have a logo displayed. But, it’s not practical to invest in custom-painted lettering and artwork, etc. Because our vehicles, like all others here, are the famous Alaskan dirt color. You can’t see anything on them but dirt anyway, so we don’t spend much for labeling them.

A Different Kind of Physical Market Environment

We’ve gone everywhere from Seward, Alaska to Fairbanks. We’ve delivered hand wash sinks up to Fairbanks every year since we started. We don’t have those periodic highway rest stops up here, so when the sky got dimmer than normal in August, I just pulled off the road and took a nap. We take everything for vehicle breakdowns, and you can expect to lose your cell signal for long distances. You have to be prepared.

I like to do my traffic reports when I can, and I like to put it online when I run across ducks, geese, lynx, bears, moose, coyotes, wolves, wolverines, mountain goats, or other animals. My dog is my constant work companion, and he’s my security system. He alerts me to any other animals in the vicinity while I’m servicing a porta potty unit. (The other Perez dog, Moose, a younger version of Duke, is still in puppy training.)

Funding a Business Startup Alaskan Style

To get started, I sold my trucks, my toys, etc.; I got rid of a lot of things. I also cut expenses to save money so I could buy all of this equipment. We needed porta potty units, handicap units, hand wash sinks, hand sanitizing stations, maintenance equipment, and other things. Currently, we have 200 porta potty units, additional handicap units, 20 to 25 hand wash sinks, plus hand sanitizer stations.

The porta potty trucks cost $100,000 each. I paid cash for both of those and avoided financing costs. Despite the employment market problems and the financial risks in the startup, it was the best decision of my life.

Quality Management at Alaska Porta Potty

We have a 10-point system for our porta potty sterilization and sanitization system. We cover all the high-touch areas and do our best to keep the exteriors and roofs clean. But we train our guys to do it consistently the same way every single time. That way, we can guarantee the quality of the work we do to pump them and clean them.

To maintain consistent quality, we gauge it this way. If you go to the first unit someone services in the morning, then to the very last one, the last one that the technician does should look exactly the same as the first. We can expect that the first is pristine because a person is feeling fresh and energetic at that point in the day. But, by the last one, they may be fatigued. So, meeting the expectation that the last looks exactly like the first is a simple system for helping measure quality.

Team Training by Frank Perez

I train the employees myself. We’re very thorough in making sure the units are clean, and we don’t leave waste in them when they come back, ever. Every porta potty of ours that you go into smells clean. The service is seamless for the customer. There’s not one service ticket involved. When you go into the unit, the whole thing speaks for itself.

Latest Technology at Alaska Porta Potty

We don’t use service tickets to track our routine service calls to each account. We don’t need them because our units are always clean. We do have GPS tracking, and we use all the latest and greatest technologies for the most efficient service management in the industry.

Biggest Challenges

The major challenge is equipment maintenance in this climate. If you’re on the road system, we’ll get there. We can go anywhere. The weather is a challenge. The temperatures can make things difficult, causing frozen vehicle components, from doors to mechanical parts, etc.

The wildlife is also a challenge. For example, if you get cherry- or banana-scented oils to make the units smell nice, those can attract bears and other wildlife, like wolves or wolverines. It’s too dangerous.

Other challenges include the stuff offroad, fuel diesel gel, and oil, for example. You have to keep inverters and heat guns in the vehicles, in case the pump veins freeze up.

When we’re out that far in the middle of nowhere, we don’t have excuses. We’ve spent all the money on the equipment, so it has to get done.

Alaska Porta Potty Service Model

The customer has to be willing to pay for the six hours of driving time, for example, and the fuel, and that’s how we justify our pricing. We don’t say — you’re out there in the middle of nowhere so we need to increase our rate. But we’ll charge you for our time, costs, and fuel surcharge like we do with any other customer, and you’ll pay for the service. When you break it down that way, it seems more fair, instead of saying we could make more doing it down the street, so we will charge you more for being farther away. 

These people need sanitization as well. We’re not losing money, but we’re not making a lot from that. We don’t charge them additionally from our office. We only charge an added amount from the point where the coverage area ends. Yes, I’m driving a long distance to go there, but I know I’m always taking care of a community out there.

Future Plans for Frank Perez and Team

My oldest daughter, Alaska, is traveling the world, at 21 years old. My youngest daughter, Persasis, is a freshman in high school now. She’s got a few years to go. When my high-schooler graduates, she’ll be off to college. That will be another turning point in our lives.

Our plan is to then take over the world. (His expression is one of light amusement but with a no-nonsense aim. Based on Frank Perez’s depth of industry knowledge and the family team’s record, one can sense that they’ll make it happen.) We have a location that is coming online in Tampa in four years, and I have family in Texas, so we’re already working on that. My best friend lives in Washington State, so we’re looking at that too.

In the meantime, Frank Perez continues to grow and adapt his business to meet the unique needs of off-grid users throughout the state for excellent and affordable service. 

Frank and his family also continue to give back to the community through their involvement in Challenge Alaska, a competitive sports event for handicapped participants, among other charitable activities.

Advice for Industry Newcomers from Frank Perez, Alaska Porta Potty, LLC, Anchorage AK

Advice for new business owners in the industry? Yes, I have some advice for them. It’s not a beauty contest. If it works, it makes money. I thought I had to have the shiniest equipment. When it comes to my porta potties, they’re beautiful. They’re immaculate. If everything else looks old and tired, you’d better make sure your porta potties look nice. But for people entering the industry who may want all the shiny new equipment, keep in mind that you don’t need that.

It can be a huge unnecessary expense to buy new equipment while you may be much better off putting your investment in other areas of a startup business to support your goals for growth.

Alaska Porta Potty and Its Leadership

In researching each of our North American Sweeper Spotlight feature articles on portable restroom rental service businesses throughout the country, we have found a certain kind of entrepreneurial adventurer. In this case, the business owner is living in multiple forms of adrenaline stimuli.

He’s living on the edge just tackling the predictable daily challenges of running a demanding small portable restroom business. But, he’s also working in the world’s most extreme climate elements amid the entire gamut of wildlife in the Alaskan wilderness — all while providing top-quality rental products and service. I think we can all agree that there’s really nothing more to want in the ultimate, fully-rounded entrepreneurial adventure story.

So, we can anticipate Frank’s answer when asked, “Which guy are you? The one whose conception of the American Dream is sharing the running of a robust small business with your family and enjoying that independent lifestyle?” OR “The one who will scale the enterprise to the utter maximum, growing inventory and expanding into new physical market areas?” Of course, he’s the guy who will try whatever makes the very most of his entrepreneurial potential and supports his outdoor interests.

He has, of course, chosen regions for his future business expansion that also offer wide open natural environments for exploration. We can already imagine him delivering the best service in the ancient forests of Washington State, across the seemingly boundless Texas plains, and deep in the Everglades, where the most remote of outback communities there need services too! 

(Frank noticed during the interview that his sunscreen was frozen, a problem that must be corrected because, as he said, midnight sunburn is a real thing at the top of the world. He won’t have that problem in Florida, but Duke will still be a crucial asset, for alerting him of gators and pythons.)

We look forward to following up with Frank through the years to see how the future unfolds for this exceptional business leader with his incomparably exciting business model.

For more information about Alaska Porta Potty, LLC, contact Frank Perez, Owner at (907) 5192-4144 or, or visit the website at

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