Rachel Bartlett decided about five years ago she wanted her own business, but she couldn’t decide what kind to start. Looking back to the days when she helped her father with his septic-tank business, she decided to stick to what she knew and opened up Johnny on the Spot portable toilets. Now she has about 150 portable johns all over Butte County, and business is booming. Bartlett was interviewed while cleaning one of her “johnnys.”
Was this a hard business to start?
Yeah, it was hard. [Laughs.] I don’t recommend it to anybody.
How do these work?
Basically I just pump them out, take all the stuff to the dump, load ’em up, rent ’em out.
What’s their capacity?
That’s like a 50-gallon tank in there.
You ever find disgusting things in there?
All the time. Yep.
Condoms, if you can believe that one. I’ve found syringes, I’ve found purses, I’ve seen—oh man, you name it. It’s amazing.
You ever have people living in these things?
Yeah. A bum. I had to knock on the door [and say], “Get out of there, man.”
Did he get mad?
Yeah! He gets pissed off, ranting and raving, cussing.
You should charge him rent.
That’s what I’m saying.
It looks like you keep these things pretty clean.
I do. I’m like, I don’t know, I own it I guess, you know? So I keep ’em clean. The other guys are too big, they don’t care really.
How much do the johnnys cost?
It ranges from $500 to $2,000, so it depends. Like, I’ve got handicapped units that are way expensive.
You’ve got your own business—that’s cool.
Yeah, it is cool. And I’m getting busier, so that’s nice.