Walter Kleeberg Finds Success Through Commitment to Clients and Securing a Niche of His Own
There’s a vital piece of infrastructure without which many businesses can’t function: the portable toilet. Walter Kleeberg, owner of Deerfield-based Carson’s Cans, understands that he’s filling a niche. “It’s not for everybody,” he concedes.
And when it comes to the odor emanating from the products he supplies and services for countless farms, construction sites, outdoor recreation facilities, and festivals throughout the Pioneer Valley, don’t worry about Walt. “I don’t smell it,” he said with a smile. “It all looks like cash to me.”
The business he took over in 2012 has come into its own after much hard work and reinvestment. Walt recently was able to purchase a $120,000 truck fitted with a 900-gallon split-tank for servicing the toilets, as well as erect a 30-foot by 50-foot garage on his Deerfield property where he keeps three trucks. He owns a plot of land in the Greenfield Industrial Park that’s just shy of 2 acres where he stores toilets and other equipment, and he just put an offer on some land in Montague with a 40-foot by 70-foot garage. In addition to Walt and his wife, who manages the office, two drivers and a part-time office worker make up the team.
Financing from the Franklin County CDC’s PVGrows Investment Fund helped secure some of those investments, as his toilets help farmers comply with federal Food Safety Modernization Act rules, along with third-party audited Good Agricultural Practices, which are a requirement for many wholesale buyers.
A former farmer himself, Walt has built solid relationships with farm owners, which make up about a third of his clients. He services businesses within about a 20-mile radius, from Athol and Orange, down to Belchertown and over to Chesterfield, Goshen, and as far north as Charlemont. Over 11 years, he’s been able to grow the business steadily, providing rentals of standard portable toilets, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and sinks to between 500 and 600 clients each year through word of mouth and by providing excellent, dependable service. “I’m a fan of slow, controlled growth,” he added.
He’s also a longtime client of the Franklin County CDC’s traditional lending department, seeking out financing–and advice–along the way.
“Without the CDC, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
A big supporter of local lenders, Walt has also worked with Greenfield Savings Bank for financing, appreciating the relationships that form with a fellow business owner. By way of example, he said, “I may pay a little more if I order from Baker Office Supply, but I know they are there for me. I don’t want to turn a computer on,” to order a part or supplies.
Asked what advice he would give to a business owner starting out, Walt had some recommendations:
- Know your market
- Learn everything you can about the industry as a whole
- Find a good attorney who understands businesses
- Find a good business accountant who can help you reduce your tax burden
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice
By following these, he’s been able to achieve financial stability. “The business has been very good to us,” he said.
Get in touch with Carson’s Cans by phone at (413) 475-3167 or visit their website.
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