Jeff Huston has seen some… well, let’s just say he’s seen things that most of us prefer not to discuss; but the reality is, no matter where you are, at some point nature will call. When it does, Handi-Can might be the one answering.
Handi-Can rents, sells and services portable toilets and temporary fencing. The company also provides high-rise, wheelchair accessible, and executive heated toilets, along with hand washing stations and pump-out services.
You’ve seen their colourful stalls at festivals, sporting events, construction sites, and concerts. At an outdoor wedding you may have enjoyed the executive portable with its flush toilets, air conditioning and running water.
Huston strives to make Handi-Can the number one choice for people who go number two. Under his leadership, the business has grown quickly.
“When I bought Handi-Can, I was renting half a building in Spruce Grove,” he says. “I was living in Edmonton but wanted to move back to the country and buy an acreage.” Huston bought the acreage, built a shop and moved the company to his property.
“We started with six trucks and 600 toilets. I hired my sister-in-law to do the clerical work. I bought the company right at the start of summer, so we grew quickly with all the construction work, festivals, events and golf courses opening up.”
Prior to his ownership, Handi-Can had a contract with Big Valley Jamboree (BVJ), a contract Huston upheld for one year. “Being new to business and getting thrown into to BVJ was quite the learning curve.” Huston admits. “It was too big of an event, too far away and in the heart of the busy construction season. I didn’t want to let my yearly customers down, so I found local people to fill the void for BVJ.” Then he smiles sheepishly, “Also, I lost the bid!”
Losing the bid was not a deterrent, however, as Huston was busy positioning Handi-Can to serve the Edmonton, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Beaumont, Nisku, Leduc, Sherwood Park, Lac Ste. Anne and Parkland County regions. Additionally, construction firms and event planners were loving the cleanliness of Handi-Can’s portables and the outstanding and professional service, so Huston decided to expand.
“I acquired another portable toilet company about five years ago,” he explains. “The inventory included 200 portable toilets and another truck. A large commercial contractor was one of their main clients, so that new business was advantageous. I hired one of their employees and two years ago, from the same company, purchased their temporary line fencing.”
Three years ago, Handi-Can outgrew the acreage facility and built a beautiful cabin-style 8,000 square foot building in Spruce Grove to grow operations and to have a spacious, professional office for the business and his team.
Today, Huston reflects on the past 15 years, what has made the business a success, and how the inventory has grown to include 10 trucks and 1,200 toilets, along with 75,000 feet of temporary fence panels.
“It’s a needed service that everyone uses but having an excellent team is what makes the business last. We started with three people. Now, during the summer, we have up to 20.
“I’ve treaded cautiously in taking on new business until I know we can handle it and not let other customers down. I’m very mindful of growing sustainably.
“Handi-Can stands out because we follow through and deliver on our promises. We have integrity. We have nice equipment. We look professional and act professional in the way we dress, clean our toilets and operate. We are timely and precise. I really care about the business and the customers.”
Huston thanks his team for their hard work and his clients for their loyalty. He also thanks his father, who was instrumental in helping him launch and be successful with the business. Handi-Can looks forward to a future of steady growth, new acquisitions, and being the go-to portable toilet and temporary fence provider for the region’s construction and event needs.
“After 15 years it’s business as usual,” he smiles. “We will keep doing the things that have made us successful so far.”