Family-owned business, Biffs, Inc, is the premier portable restroom provider in Minnesota. Founded over 30 years ago, Biffs has always been known for their cleanliness, reliability, family values, and innovation within the industry. Second generation owners, Heather and Derek Pauling, are not only business partners, they are siblings. In 2015, the two of them took over the family business, originally founded by their passionate father. Today, Biffs provides commercial, recreational, construction, and special events solutions to protect both health and dignity where permanent facilities are not available.
We are excited to share our conversation with Derek and Heather about Biffs’ inspiring story and why they place so much value on a great banking partner.
How did this family business come to be?
Heather: If you’re looking at the big picture of how everything started, it began with our father. He started the business on his own and eventually our mother joined the team. Derek and I were encouraged to get involved since we were kids. After finishing college, we joined the team full time. I started working in the office taking orders and Derek worked out in the yard. Our parents were very intelligent, caring, and driven people, which was a great gift to us. We worked together under their leadership for nearly 20 years – not everyone’s fortunate enough to have such amazing mentors for their entire lives.
What’s it like to run a business with your sibling?
Heather: I like to say Derek’s the water and I’m the oil and the reason that we can mix so well is Biffs. Before joining the company full-time, I was in art school while Derek was studying business. Being dramatically different allows us to complement each other’s skills and role in the company. We really understand where the business has been and where we’re going. Our working relationship is great because of all that and we both remain driven by the goal to continue our father’s legacy.
How does Biffs maintain a family culture?
Derek: A big part of it is listening to people and building trust.
Heather: It’s about having interactions with people and getting to know them and their families–that’s what makes it all come together. You’re at work so many hours in your life, it has to be fulfilling. We are grateful to have a group of really passionate people here who care about each other. This is also an important part of our parent’s legacy and the traditions they established during their time.
What are some of the challenges with growing a business?
Derek: As we look forward to expanding, one of the challenging aspects for any business owner is assessing risk and making well-informed decisions. When our parents ran the business, expansion was always a challenge. In the past, we were overleveraged by buyouts and partners, so it was never an easy situation for our mom and dad. There have been a lot of growing pains along the way, but we view them as great experiences to learn from. As we look for new ways to innovate and expand our services, we know it’s important to have a trusted banking partner. Working with Riverland Bank we know they’re always there for us to bring all of the financial pieces together and help us navigate our growth successfully.
What makes Riverland Bank a unique partner?
Derek: Every time we meet with our banker, Heath, the discussions are open and honest. We really appreciate that he’s always straightforward with us. Personally, I never want to hear a sales pitch about how great it’s going to be then end up at the closing table and a deal doesn’t go through. With Riverland Bank, there’re no surprises and that’s also how we like to operate at Biffs–these are very important shared values. When we were looking for a bank, we were focused on the opportunity to build trust through long-term relationships and I can always count on Heath to go to bat for us. In addition to the personal relationships with their clients, Riverland Bank is very competitive on pricing and their customer service reflects the level of service we try to provide for our own customers at Biffs.
How does Riverland Bank support your business?
Derek: We have very open communication. They’re not just our banking partner, but often play an advisory role in making smart decisions for the business and keeping us from overextending ourselves. They treat us the same way we treat our own clients, with transparency, honesty, quality service and family values.