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Mar 05, 2020

How I Became a Junk Man (Part 2)

I still remember the savings account bank statement. It read $4,127. Although this was a lot of money to a 23 year old, I knew it wouldn’t get me very far. I wasn’t living in the 1950’s.

I told a few friends about my intentions to put in my two week notice and start hauling junk for a living. The collective feedback sounded something like, “You’re an idiot.” On a certain level, I agreed with them, but I figured I had little to lose. After all, the only person I was supporting financially was myself and I had seen the demand for these services first hand, as a moving consultant.

So I went with my gut and I purchased an old truck from my Uncle.

He gave me a good deal, but this thing was “a beater” in the true sense of the word. The side view mirrors literally flapped in the wind at highway speeds. The entire bed was framed with wooden 2×4’s. I had to paint it just to get it presentable and to hide the rust. In order to dump it, you had to remove the doors and they weighed 85 pounds each. It wasn’t the proudest vehicle I had ever called my own, but it started up (usually) and it allowed us to get the
job done. That first year, we ended up making $89K with that old thing.

What Junk Removal was Missing

As a rookie in the junk removal industry, I noticed some opportunities that were being missed by the competition. Very few, if any, were going to great lengths to donate or recycle the items they picked up. So much valuable stuff was being landfilled. I couldn’t find a company that put responsible disposal first, or one that built their brand around their disposal process.

I remembered a few months prior, cleaning out my own home and having a great deal of trouble allowing myself to trash some old pots and pans, as well as some clothes that no longer fit me well. I put them in bags and boxes and threw them in the trunk of my car. I ended up driving around with them for a month, before I finally made it to Goodwill. I remembered how important donating those items were to me and I was pretty certain I wasn’t alone. I decided our disposal process would be our differentiator – our value proposition — our main focus – our brand!

We got our first call on January 4, 2008 from a Washington Post ad. We had no idea what we were doing.

Related:  How I Became a Junk Man (Part 3)

 

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