Urapeein – Rare Business Leadership in Rough Market!

Urapeein – Rare Business Leadership in Rough Market!

Urapeein operates on the high plains adjacent to the northern Rockies. Its leader, Conor Vogele, was barely beyond high school age at the time his unique entrepreneurial adventure began. He had just bought his portable restroom rental service business when we discovered it back in 2018. The town of Billings MT and the surrounding rural area has been the environment in which the youth has been growing his business and strategically planning its future over these past 5 years. 

Vogele has worked relentlessly to build the business, and his parents, Kris and Beth, have provided a strong support team to help him succeed in his entrepreneurial endeavor. He has already doubled the client base he obtained from the original owners who had launched the company in 2012 and then sold him the startup. 

Since acquiring the business, Connor Vogele and his family team have done an extraordinary job of developing the company’s assets from very limited resources. We’re excited to look in on this amazing Montana youth and see how his business has progressed over the past 5 years of his great organization’s story.

Just Five Years Later at Urapeein

Conor Vogele’s family had just acquired an events services business in 2017. Connor, in his early twenties at that time, liked the portable restroom business and was eager to own his own company. So, the youth invested his entire life savings to acquire Urapeein. His parents, Kris and Beth, recognized their son’s potential and decided to help him, and he bought the business in 2018.

To say Kris and Beth were right to bet on their son is a colossal understatement. In just the first year that Connor took over the company, he more than doubled its customer base. When the Vogeles bought the company, it had approximately 78 toilets. When we talked with them in late 2018, the inventory had already grown to 140 toilet units. The company’s 150 event customers had already grown to a base of around 200 within a year. At an amazing 70% growth rate across the company’s service lines, the team looked to increase that rate even more by adding employees over the coming years.

In 2018, Urapeein had four trucks and Connor looked forward to buying a brand-new truck as a major goal. At that time, the company owned 2013 and older models. The company had construction of its new shop underway at that time and was utilizing an additional storage space for housing vehicles and its exterior for double-duty as a billboard to advertise the rental service.

Recently talking with Kris for this 2024 update, he says the company “has grown quite a bit” in the past five years. As a result, Connor just purchased a dazzling new $160,000 Mack portable toilet truck. He reminds us that when Connor started out with Urapeein, he had 65 toilets. Today, he has around 340 porta pot units out and in the summers he has around 500 out! The company has also acquired a luxury trailer with 3 stalls, over 60 new handwashing stations, and several new portable toilet trucks. 

Agile Management Ensures Success Despite Adversity

Looking at the COVID period, Kris explains that things were a little different but that business didn’t really slow down much. Instead, the change was in the form of a shift in their average customer profile from private and public events to more industrial sites and large commercial construction projects.

Kris identifies Urapeein’s staple business today as residential construction and some events. A lot of the services the company provides for events are nonprofit donations of rental toilet units. It’s a way that the business contributes to the community. 

Currently, Connor is looking to add one or two more drivers this April for the summer months. Urapeein now has 5 employees, including Connor, Kris, Beth, and 2 route service employees, and they will have 6 in the summer with the new field employee they will hire. Connor explained the special need for additional workers this year too. I am excited to add a couple more staff this Spring and add wild fire support (for the US Forest Service and US Dept of Natural Resources) to our book of business this summer.

The company has added a total of 3 trucks in the past 5 years! That includes one new truck and two 2013 models that they’ve rebuilt with new engines, transmissions, and pumps. Kris noted that they like the 2013 models because there are ample parts available. 

Connor Vogele’s team has supplied portable toilet rentals for major public events, such as the Relay for Life, one involving the U.S. Air Force Academy and other universities, and various other events. The company also supplies construction projects and private events, and it services RVs and septic filters. 

Big Plans in Big Sky Country

The business has had strong success with an impressive online marketing program and has relied on digital vs. print media. But, by all accounts, Connor’s exceptional talents and drive are the company’s greatest assets. Urapeein provides 24-hour phone assistance, which Beth notes is a convenience for customers that sets the company apart in the local south-central Montana market. 

The Urapeein company currently offers portable toilet rental service, luxury toilet trailer rental, RV tank pumping, and septic filter changes. Future expansion plans may include home septic pumping services and even plumbing services, perhaps by 2028 or later. The strong focus of the enterprise in 2024 remains, as in 2018, on growing the portable toilet rental business channel.

Except for administrative help from his parents, Connor alone was his entire staff when we met the Vogeles in 2018. As Kris and Beth pointed out then, he consistently put out maximum productivity. By all accounts, that’s why the business has grown at such a strong rate. His mechanical skills, stamina, and special abilities to do the difficult work through the extreme Montana winter weather have enabled him to build a thriving company and set high growth goals for its future.

The company has modified its business model to include a couple of remote providers as contractors to service distant areas on behalf of Urapeein. We took them 15 toilets, and we service our customers through them. In the summer, they have a heavy event presence in their areas. So, we provide them with the units they need for rentals and they service them for us. It helps the smaller companies and gives us a longer reach.

Urapeein in Montana Winters

To sustain normal functioning during the brutal winters of the northern United States is a major challenge. Urapeein uses methanol to prevent the portable toilets from freezing up. Struggling through the weather elements to service accounts is a feat of determination and knowledge that is perhaps not relatable for southern US operators. 

Further, this type of service is much more expensive to provide during rough winter periods. In the high country of central Montana, winter temperatures are frequently below freezing. That means the trucks are freezing, which makes it much harder to meet service commitments. 

But, over the past five years, Connor Vogele has proven to be a force of nature in his own right, evidently impervious to climate challenges when it comes to fulfilling his service commitments. For example, although this winter (2023-2024) has, so far, been comparatively mild overall, in the past couple of weeks before our interview, temperatures have reached -20 in the area. But, Connor Vogele and the Urapeein team specialize in that kind of endurance contest with nature. 

Urapeein Streams of Revenue

As Beth Vogele commented in our 2018 meeting, “Connor has a great service mind. He’s a great service talent." She also mentioned that, ironically, he’s a germ freak who owns and operates a portable restroom rental company. However, that trait apparently helps him excel at the job of keeping the units clean for his customers. 

By our observation, the young entrepreneur’s engaging personability, deep commitment to quality, laser-focus, and boundless energy are, all together, indomitable business attributes that make Connor Vogele a true stand-out leader in the industry.

Focused on marketing, the company maintains a strong social media presence, such as on Facebook with their impressively managed page. The business also uses print marketing materials for contractors. The Facebook page has been very effective, and our name attracts a lot of new prospects as well. The business website is new, added since the time of our 2018 interview with the Vogeles. 

Kris talks about the purpose of the website for essential marketing. It’s just a basic Wix site at this stage. One of the guys we work with on SEO and other digital marketing needs has helped us move into that area of overall marketing that we focus on now but we didn’t previously. 

It provides us with a Contact Us button. We maintain it ourselves. We’ll improve it over time. We have an agency posting one or two times a week, and we also post. We just use the posts to kind of boost our online presence. (But, in our ALW research we found the posts very entertaining and enlightening and think they should not be missed by fellow portable restroom rental business managers.)

External Forces that May Affect Urapeein in the Future

Our price is one of the lowest in the nation. So we don’t have the concern about being out-priced. Kris Vogele explained for the original ALW report that fuel mileage is also a big factor in the total operating cost, as it is throughout the national industry. But, in Connor Vogele’s vast service area, operating distances can be unusually long. For example, one customer is around 250 miles away. That means that costs must be diligently controlled.

Connor explained in 2018, “We use GPS to navigate and save fuel and time, an industry software program for inventory of our units and bookkeeping. We push everything into QuickBooks for accounting. It’s a time and cost saver." Overall, the big thing for managing business risks in our case is to keep costs as low as possible."

Exemplary Industry Leadership by Connor Vogele, Urapeein, Billings MT

Connor Vogele’s service model and account management style have rapidly increased Urapeein’s account base and assets over the past five years since our ALW 2018 report. Further, Connor, the Vogele family, and the business have continued to contribute to the betterment of their community, donating their time and rental product use to nonprofit endeavors. 

Urapeein’s consistency of top-quality service in Billings market and throughout greater central Montana, excellent strategic cost and growth management, and its reputation as a socially conscious business have accelerated its brand development in the region. 

As his mother and business team member noted for ALW five years ago, the company’s growth is mostly attributable to “Connor’s work ethic and the pride he takes in his work.” Today, people on job sites still comment about his value-added service approach that makes having him on sites such a benefit to a good overall customer experience. Per Beth Vogele in 2018, “That matters in our area." The exciting success of Urapeein over the past five years under its very young leader proves that it still matters in 2024.

Connor attributes the company’s success to a win-win way of thinking about what it means to do what it takes to be the best in the Kansas City commercial sweeping market. My motto has been "Service is what sets us apart," and I feel that our focus on quality and communication creates a relationship that works for our customers while aiding in our growth.

Connor Vogele’s leadership has certainly produced an outstanding industry example of a business outcome from consistently delivering quality products and services and adding value. The story of his business’s performance illustrates a general model for achieving sustained high rates of customer retention and growth and building a great brand. 


For more information about Urapeein portable toilet rentals, septic services, or RV pump outs, you can call (406) 252-3040 or visit urapeein.com. Or, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/urapeein406/.


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