The Portable Toilet Business That nearly collapsed on Black Monday Of 1987


Enzyme America was a business that Utica Entrepreneur Earl Braxton believed had the potential of becoming successful in the early 1980’s while supplying human urine for medical research purposes. Demand was already forthcoming for the extracts that made the entrepreneur believe the private entity was all but headed for an IPO.

Braxton had got into the urine enzyme business having met a scientist who needed a huge amount of urine for research purposes while still running his portable toilet business at Porta John Corp. The initial idea revolved around selling enzymes to research firms, which at the time relied on urine derived enzymes rather than the synthetic options.

Braxton dreams and ambitions with his new business would come to a sudden halt on October 19, 1987 a day that has gone in history as one of the worst in the markets. On that day, the Dow Jones sunk by 508 points losing nearly 23 points and throwing many businesses and companies into disarray. Braxton had already spent over $1 million in research and design on filters or portable toilets having already attracted interest from biotech companies before the crush.

The portable toilet business was at the time doing extremely well seen by Braxton raking in highs of $5 million annually from selling and leasing of portable toilets

An initial public offering for Enzyme America would have raised up to $5 million in cash according to analysts’ estimates; something that gave Braxton hope that the business was destined for success. Braxton was lucky to survive the scare of that day as his Porta John business kept him afloat shielding him from becoming another Black Monday Casualty. The crash meant that Braxton had to close the chapter on Enzyme America and in 1991 closed out Porta John Corp consequently creating Porta-John Industries as a new company.

While Braxton thrived on his new company, there is some distant frustration on reminiscing the forces that were beyond his power that prevented him from getting it right with Enzyme America. Braxton story clearly shows how bringing something to the market in the biotech space is hard especially if one is not a scientist

Mac Gerlach a degree holder un Chemistry and cellular molecular believes the downfall to Braxton’s IPO adventure might have been accelerated by lack of data to convince investors at that time that it was a hard science.

Braxton is now going strong with his portable toilet business having done $1.4 million in sales last year and is currently working on an online marketing strategy that he hopes will boost his sales to $4.5 million by 2017.


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