Common Dry Flush Toilet questions answered
Dry Flush toilets are a brilliant, simple, inexpensive portable toilet solution and in this post we feature Dry Flush Toilet questions answered.
The Dry Flush Toilet is perfect for camper vans and other RV’s, boats, boat houses, pool houses, ice houses, bedside medical care, field applications such as camping, military, hunting, and much more.
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Laveo Dry-Flush Toilet Owner Doug Rice podcast interview and transcription
I interviewed Doug Rice, the owner of Laveo Dry Flush Toilet company. We discuss his background as an entrepreneur, his acquisition of the Laveo Dry-Flush company, the specifics of dry flush toilet construction, operation, manufacturing, cleaning and many more Dry Flush Toilet questions answered
That podcast episode and its transcript are at the bottom of this post.
Details about the Laveo Dry Flush Toilet product specifics, pricing and much more
How does a dry flush toilet work?
- The Laveo Dry-Flush Toilet bowl is lined with plastic that collects human fecal matter and urine during toilet use.
- When the toilet is “flushed”, an electric motor wraps the waste containing plastic into a small, disposable “sausage” shape.
- After flushing, the plastic is automatically replaced with a fresh plastic liner in the toilet bowl and the toilet is ready for the next use.
- The wrapped waste is stored in a space under the toilet bowl and can be removed later.
Do dry flush toilets smell bad?
Are dry flush toilets hygienic?
Are dry flush toilets environmentally friendly?
How do you empty a dry flush toilet questions answered
It’s extremely easy and simple to empty a Laveo Dry Flush Toilet.
- Lift the lid
- Remove the Trim Top Ring
- Lift the cartridge ring, turning it on it’s side as you do
- Take hold of the dark plastic cartridge bag and pull it up, over and around the cartridge
- Twist the top of the cartridge bag
- Tie off the plastic bag and dispose of it in public waste
Laveo Dry-Flush Toilet owner Doug Rice Podcast interview and transcription
The Campervan Podcast is an audio program featuring ideas for design and building, cooking, organization, gear and more for a better overall Vanlife experience.
Laveo Dry-Flush Toilet owner Doug Rice interview
What we talked about in this episode:
- Background of Doug Rice in the printing industry
- Doug’s acquisition of the Dry Flush Toilet company
- The creation and manufacture of the Dry Flush Toilet
- Dry Flush Toilet diversity and use in a multitude of scenarios and environments
Transcript for Episode #139 of The Campervan Podcast. Interview with Doug Rice of Laveo Dry-Flush Portable Toilets
After a successful career as a groundbreaking entrepreneur in the printing industry, Doug Rice bought a portable toilet company called Laveo Dry Flush, where he continues to exercise his generous, creative approach to business growth.
Please enjoy this candid discussion and glimpse into the methods and experience of a true industry leader and innovator.
James Petersen (author, interviewer): So, Doug Rice! Can we start at the start? You were in the printing business?
Doug Rice, owner of the Laveo Dry-Flush Toilet Company: Yes. In 1979, I graduated from college, went to go to work for my father’s packaging company, and he did not have an opening for me and he said, why don’t you go start your own company.
Labels like for cupcakes, labels for soup, labels in the grocery stores, shipping labels…
So I basically did that and he thought in one year I’d be broke and I’d come back to him and he’d have an opening.
Well, the interesting thing about the label industry, there’s about six label companies on every corner in every city. So I did not realize the competition was so fierce. Very early on, I decided to change the model.
Back then in 1979, 1980, delivery was three weeks minimum. I decided to be five days or less all the time. And everyone thought it would fail. I couldn’t maintain that level of service, but I realized I had no plan B, I just couldn’t compete with all these people, and not manufacturing labels for the first five years made even more difficult.
So, For 38 years, we ran five days or less, and grew the company exponentially with a plant in Connecticut, plant in North Carolina, shipping cross country.
I traveled all over the country picking up accounts because the onset of club stores made the demand for hurry up and make me some brownies for say, Sam’s Club.
The suppliers had a tough time getting labels in time and we always came through including putting a person on an airplane to send ’em across the country with labels just to get them through on time.
We did whatever it took, and it paid off large dividends.
James: Wow, interesting. Briefly, can you give, give us an idea of, of how you overcame that?
Sounds like a longstanding framework that had been place for a long time. There must have been a reason for that. And so how did you kind of beat that problem?
Doug Rice: It’s very good analogy, going to the doctor. You’re never the only one in the waiting room.
Because doctors like to stack up a waiting room because they don’t wanna miss any billing minutes. So conversely, on our label printing operations, no one wants their printing presses to go idle. So they stack up jobs three, four weeks out, and they still do the exact same thing today. They want to keep a backlog. So the presses never go down, right?
Our presses went down all the time. That was just part of the deal. Another good analogy is the industry was like bus stops. You can always expect the bus at four o’clock at a certain stop, very methodical, but if you want to be somewhere at 12 o’clock, you can’t get there.
Yeah. So we became the Uber or the taxis of the label industry. So we had a lot of press idle time. But we also charged 10% more on our product. And people didn’t really care about the extra the label was the lowest cost part of their product, but they couldn’t ship their product without a label.
So we were Johnny-on-the-spot all the time, and had a reputation for that and trust and gratitude. I had a wall of thank you, letters in my office, framed, over a hundred of them. And when people say thank you for saving my job, thank you for helping us get this large account… it was a level of service, before Amazon, if you will.
And it was expensive. And the way we did it is we didn’t carry every different kind of material in the world. We basically carried about six different major materials and out of that six different major materials, about three different types of material. So we always had material on the floor, and a lot of our competition would order material for a job where we always had it on the floor.
We ran multiple shifts. We had employees load up a van and drive in the middle of the night to deliver labels to customers, you know, when they needed them. Not when we got around to it, when they needed them. So that sense of service was very strong. It was a culture from the top down.
The company was bought out by Fortis Group, and they wanted to mimic our delivery policy through all their other plants.
And for two years they tried and they couldn’t do it, and they even admitted it in a town hall meeting that they gave up. And the reason being is it’s just a driven down, top down belief that we can get it done. It takes everybody to rally. We just did it for 38 straight years.
James: Fascinating. So you were a disruptor before disruption was a thing.
Doug Rice: Exactly. And I made the cover of a number of MA industry magazines and I’m looking at one right now. Called Decisive Action. The company was called Action Packaging Systems we were getting written up a number of times because of just incredible response.
And we had our very first account that we picke up. We’ve had ’em for the 38 years because whenever they needed something, we were there. Never let him run out.
James: So you exited and did you stay on for a while?
Doug Rice: I stayed on for a year and a half and, it was just too challenging. We didn’t, we couldn’t agree on anything.
I didn’t care for how they’re running the plant. I didn’t care for how they treated the employees. I didn’t care for how they’re treating the customers. So we mutually agreed to separate. And I moved down to the coast of Connecticut and remodeled the home. And we had a common accountant.
My accountant was the same accountant at Laveo Dry-Flush.
He approached me and said, the ownership is looking to retire. He might be interested in this product. I went and visited the company, saw the product work, and I said, I have to buy it. I have to buy this company. And I purchased it August 15th, 2021 and there were a thousand toilets back ordered.
I said, we’re gonna clean that up by December 31st, and on January 1st, 2000, we’ll ship same day or next day, everything. And we’ve, we’ve been doing that since January 1st.
The product is amazing. We now have exclusive distributors in Australia, Canada, and Mexico is coming on next.
I walked into a situation where there was an engineer who designed an amazing product. But when I asked for the marketing materials, there wasn’t any. When I asked him how he drove business in, he didn’t have a plan. There was nothing. The phone rang, he answered it, or somebody answered it and took an order or it came over the internet.
And that was his marketing, just a website.
James: Gotcha. And so how did you overcome the back order issue?
Doug Rice: Basically I streamlined the operation as far I could. I lengthened the assembly line. I reduced the amount of steps each operator had to take physically and by hand. I had more inventory brought in…
I pushed it in sooner and I worked on the line every day. Every day I was on the line, packaging up toilets, testing them, as the fourth person on the line to move them through. And that sense of urgency and commitment to get it out the door was all I cared about at that particular time.
James: And I would imagine that was contagious with your people.
Doug Rice: Exactly. So everybody appreciates that I the owner, was literally breaking sweat in the plant. Going as fast as I could to get the work done. And I was there in the beginning of the day and the end of the day, went in on weekends, whatever it took to get back orders reduced down.
I take it very, very seriously. And I think they appreciated that.
James: Fabulous. So let’s take a step back actually, or maybe forward, depending on how you look at it. Imagine that I just heard about Laveo Dry-Flush toilets and I’ve been looking at other brands.
I’m trying to figure out what I’m gonna carry in my vehicle. And I don’t know anything about yours. How does it work?
Doug Rice: The video helps, but also the explanation that there’s no cleaning to be done. It’s portable. There’s no chemicals. There’s no water. It’s electric. It could be run off a battery, it could be run off ac, it could be run off 12 volt.
It’s odorless and you just, you go to the bathroom, you press a button and walk away, and it wraps the product into a sausage link and you get 15 flushes per cartridge.
And with the advent of our new product called Pee-Powder, when you urinate, you don’t flush every time. You just sprinkle a little Pee-Powder and walk away.
And it does the same thing that a baby diaper does. It kind of hardens the urine and deodorizes it so you can save a flush.
So now you’re getting 24 to 25 visits to a cartridge, which reduced the cost of the cartridge by about 40 percent.
As far as usage goes, the product is very simple. You don’t have to plum air in plum air out. So for the van conversion people, it’s an easy install.
We have a floor mount kit to bolt to the floor, if you wish. A lot of people are now are putting it in the shower. So we have a silicone mat you put down. Put the toilet on it and you can drive around. The toilet won’t move around. It’s a very clean, acceptable way.
And what’s nice about our product is there’s not a lot of moving parts. Not very expensive as far as the components go. Replacement parts. And we, we sell ’em worldwide and we have just crossed over to 16,000 plus mark as far as toilets installed worldwide.
A rocket manufacturer has licensed our patent for the space station. The Navy Seals now use our toilet. The Coast Guard in New York use our toilet. Truck drivers on the highway use our toilets because they can put it in the sleeper.
We just came out with a brand new product for putting it next to a bed for the elderly or disabled.
And it has a lift kit to raise the toilet three inches with a much bigger support base, and it has safety rails, and that is selling extremely well because the problem with people that are ill, when it’s time to go to the bathroom, to get them out of bed and to the bathroom in time, every time doesn’t always work.
And out of personal experience, I’ve been through that, and now we bring the toilet right next to the bed, go to the bathroom, press the button, get back in bed. You won’t know the waste is there.
People ask how long it can leave their waste in their toilet. We’ve heard stories of six months without ever having an odor.
James: Oh, wow! Incredible. Okay. Yes, the video would help because it’s hard to imagine this, wrapping the waste into a sausage aspect. Can you elaborate?
Doug Rice: So it’s patented for 10 more years and it’s unlike anything that I’ve ever seen. It’s unlike anything on the market.
James: Okay. Well, incidentally, I can put a link to that video in your show notes for this show, so people will be able to click through and take a look.
Now getting back to the business aspect, when you purchased dry Flash/Laveo, right? The product is called Laveo, or the company?
Doug Rice: The company started out as Dry-Flush. And a plumber in the Midwest working in his home created a product. When you go to replace a toilet in a home, it’s kind of difficult to get the water out of the toilet. And he created a pump, a plastic hand pump to suck the water out of a toilet.
And he called it dry flush. And when dry flush was started 11 years ago, he called us saying, you can’t use my name. So they put the Laveo in front of it and that became acceptable.
James: Gotcha. Okay. That explains that. I’m curious, when you purchased that company, did you have an R and D team?
Doug Rice: When I purchased that company and I looked the toilet and I always try to better things. I could not improve that toilet at all. It was designed really well ahead of it’s time.
One of the designers passed away from cancer after he finished it, which is unfortunate because he his mind was, spot on, conceptually, and he created an incredible product. And I saw the prototypes that he built before. And he came out with a very, very good product.
So I couldn’t improve the product. What I could improve was the throughput and the process of manufacturing through my experience with action packaging systems, and marketing and expanding into alternate markets.
James: You mentioned the military space, elder care, medical care… Was the original dry flush already in some of those markets or was it just camping?
Doug Rice: Mostly camping and a lot of ice houses in Minnesota, because our toilet has no water. It does not flush. So it’s, it’s perfect and it’s amazing how many ice houses there are thousands are on the ice in Minnesota. And this time of year we start shipping a lot more to Minnesota.
Camping is very, very big with us. RV conversions, boats. We have lot of boats. We have a lot of houseboats that have our product because they don’t want to wait for the marina to send the guy over to pump out the boat.
It’s a lot more convenient with our product. Boaters don’t use the toilet a lot becase if you use a toilet once in a boat, whether just one time in a season, you have to have it pumped out. Right? With our toilet, use a toilet walk away.
James: Brilliant. I have many questions… without digging too deep into your IP, your secrets, of course.
Doug Rice: Yeah, okay, well I’d like to share something very exciting that happened with Laveo Dry-Flush recently. Our Australian distributor jus won The Australia Camping Award for most innovative product for 2022, and I just saw a picture of the trophy last night and they’re so excited.
Down there. Australia’s a huge camping market. And they, uh, they’re really excited to get going in the, the coming year. So their product is on a boat. It’s arriving this month and they ordered a lot of toilets.
Mexico is going through a lot of drought problems in a lot of cities and towns down there. And the government is actually reaching out through one of our distributors there to help solve that problem.
So we’re excited about the future and we also have added a tremendous amount of accessories to our product since I took over. We have a toilet tote so you can actually carry the toilet in one hand.
So you can carry it with one hand. It weighs 32 pounds with a battery and 28 pounds without the battery. So that’s selling very well.
And we also have a cover: A three inch foam padded cordura, waterproof cover that’s tailor made for the toilet. So if you want to put it someplace where it’s gonna get wet, a shower, what have you, don’t worry about it, the toilet would be fine. Just put a cover over.
Or if it’s on a boat, now you don’t see a toilet, but you see a seat or a table with a three inch foam top. Yeah, so that’s selling very, very well. We have a new toilet paper holder, and that’s doing very, very well.
We also came out with a black toilet. Which surprisingly is selling very well.
James: Wow. Impregnated color?
Doug Rice:: Correct. And we’re trying to come up with blue hopefully in the next two weeks. Uh, they’re trying to match the toilet seat, which I selected, and if that works out, we’ll have that in two weeks.
But the black has surprised us. How much people want that different color.
James: Well, you know, if you’ve got a modern van or boat design with some darker woods… it makes perfect sense. That’s really cool. So can you talk a little bit about your manufacturing process, as in how the various pieces for the toilet are created?
Doug Rice: Sure. We try to buy everything we can locally. We buy the shells, which is the bottom base o of the toilet, from a company up in Massachusetts. They bring those in on pallets and the gals take them down and we have to drill out all the holes for the fans. For the circuit board, for the toilet seat, for the push button.
And so we’ll have one person drill out the patterns on the back. We have templates that they use. They drill it out and the next person starts populating the components in it, which is the in fan, the out fan, the Swiss motor on the bottom. And then there’s some metal inside that creates a base.
And then we have the circuit board goes on the.power jack, which is the part of the button, and then the power jack where you plug it into the back. Then we then move it down and someone puts the battery in, puts the cartridge in as we send it out with a full cartridge, test it and package it up.
So it’s a small assembly line. It’s very, very efficient.
James: Fascinating. And so the base, you’re purchasing that from a plastics manufacturer? And your design specifically, of course. That probably sounds like a dumb question, but I was just trying to picture the whole process.
Doug Rice: It is our design. That’s correct.
James: Okay. I think I got it. And all of these components, of course, are custom and have been tested over time.
Doug Rice: The fans are standard. They’re standard fans. The circuit board is custom made for our product and the electrical components, the push button, the power jack, the twist motor, they’re all standard items that we have pulled together.
In the early days, they decided how much volume for each fan to generate, how fast for the twist motor to turn…
We also manufacture the refill cassettes So everything’s made in Wallingford, Connecticut. We’ve improved that operation to make the cassettes more easily assembled.
They’re all hand assembled, hand packed with 21 feet of material and it becomes a dispensary, if you will. We call it a dispensary ring and it’s very clever. And, and what happens is the twist motor on the bottom has an octagonal drum, and it twists the film 4 times after receiving the…
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