Mini Biff is a small business with an important job behind the scenes of summer — keeping things running smoothly at weddings, concerts, county fairs and anywhere else people need “A Good Place to Go.” The Hutchinson-based company provides clean, sanitized and fully-stocked portable toilets, hand washing stations and luxury toilet trailers.
“Most people turn their noses up given what we collect, but it’s a needed service,” said John McGreavey, who owns the Hutchinson-based business, and is pictured at right with employees Bryce Rusch, LuAnn Rusch and Mahri Schmit.
Originally established as a family business more than 15 years ago, Mini Biff has deep local roots serving the communities and rural areas of Willmar, Hutchinson, Glencoe, Winsted, Litchfield, New Ulm, Buffalo, St. Cloud, Minnetonka and Waconia.
“Mini Biff has been around so long it’s a part of the community. In this area, it’s not a ‘portable toilet;’ people just call it a mini biff,” John said. “This feels like the place our business really belongs.”
Mini Biff owns about 1,700 total units, and rentals can be anywhere from one unit to hundreds. That includes the iconic blue biff, as well as luxury bathrooms on wheels that have air conditioning and flush toilets.
The summer event scene makes up a large part of business, and it’s growing, John said. He wants Mini Biff to grow with it, tapping his skills in corporate logistics and planning. Originally from Liverpool, England, John worked for 30 years with Cargill, finishing his career there with a top position in finance and technology. He moved to Minnesota 18 years ago for his job.
When he left Cargill in 2015, he decided to buy a business. Mini Biff met all the criteria for a venture he could take to the next level: It was well-established and profitable, not tech-based or retail and had many smaller accounts instead of a few large customers.
“I came in not knowing anything about the industry itself. It’s not the kind of thing you think about,” John said.
After John purchased the business in 2016, funding from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Business Finance Program helped him relocate Mini Biff operations from a home office to the company’s current location on Highway 15 north of Hutchinson, the site of the former Hotovec Auction Center.
“John has a vision to help this business grow and improve, while keeping it local. We’re the perfect partner because we can leverage resources and connections to support him,” said Amy Woitalewicz, SWIF Business Finance Director.
SWIF’s Business Finance Program supports the retention, expansion, transition, creation and attraction of businesses large and small; financing can be used for machinery and equipment, inventory, working capital and real estate. In McLeod County, SWIF has loaned more than $5 million since its founding, $2.68 of that in Hutchinson.
“Without the additional funding from SWIF, we wouldn’t have been able to make this work,” John said. “They were helpful and easy to work with, not to mention close by.”
The new Mini Biff office features indoor toilets with showers, heated floors and a heated wash bay for units — all upgrades John wanted to provide for employee safety and well-being.
“The safety of everybody is critical for us,” he said. “And due to the nature of the business, the work can be tough on employees. I want to offer them the best working conditions possible.”
Construction sites need mini biffs all year long, so the company has a permanent staff of about 10. That number surges to 28 during Winstock Country Music Festival in Winsted, the largest single event Mini Biff services, with about 700 units. And they’ll stay busy all summer long.
“Wherever there are fun outdoor events, we’re there,” John said.
Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $46 million in financing to businesses. We leverage private investments that create and retain quality jobs, foster entrepreneurship, and help our communities compete in a global marketplace. Learn more about business development at SWIF.