Biz: The FedEx of trash

Much as FedEx revolutionized the delivery of letters and packages, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? (and a growing cadre of copycats) are putting a new spin on large-scale trash removal for those without trucks or the patience to wait on their municipal curbside service or private hauler to make the rounds.

Dirty work: Local 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchisee David Pennebaker and his competitors are picking up where the trash man leaves off – and they even clean up after themselves, too. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Locally, new franchisee David Pennebaker is now getting his hands dirty. The Chicago transplant opened the Asheville area’s first 1-800-GOT-JUNK? service Aug. 19 in the Elk Mountain Business Park in Woodfin.

In 1989, university student Brian Scudamore encountered a tight summer job market in Vancouver, Canada, according to a brief history on the company’s Web site. “So he bought a used pickup and started ‘The Rubbish Boys,’ a junk-removal service with the slogan, ‘We’ll Stash Your Trash in a Flash!’ After three increasingly successful summers, Brian knew it was time to take his business to the next level.” Besides changing the company’s name, Scudamore invested in more trucks, hired student drivers, and set out to make his company and its phone number a household name. The company now has franchise operations in more than 300 U.S. and Canadian cities.

But 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is not the area’s only private junk-removal operation. A local firm, 777-JUNK, beat the national company to the punch here, following its national competitor’s business model.

Pennebaker says he was inspired to open his franchise after having used the service in Chicago, where he’d been working as a general contractor and building consultant. After moving to North Carolina in 2003, Pennebaker soon learned that the service was already up and running in key markets such as Charlotte. But after meeting a woman who lived in Asheville and learning that the territory was wide open and ideally suited to the concept, he decided to relocate here.

“I was terribly impressed with the service [in Chicago] and then began using it on all my projects,” says Pennebaker. “What really impressed and made me think it would be good for Asheville is that 60 percent, systemwide, of the junk they collect they recycle or donate. They work really, really hard to find ways to keep stuff out of the landfill—not only from a cost perspective, but because it’s just really good for the environment. When I was looking at that and looking at Asheville, it being such a green-friendly, recycling type area (unlike other areas of the country where it’s just an afterthought) … I thought it would be an incredible fit.”

Prices for trash removal currently range from a minimum charge of $98 to $578 for a full truckload (prices are based on volume, not weight). The company, which currently has two trucks and three employees (with Pennebaker often pitching in on jobs), will basically take anything that’s not hazardous and doesn’t take more than two people to lift. That includes everything from computers, household furniture and white goods to construction debris and yard waste.

Subject to availability, customers can arrange a convenient time for pickup either online or by phone and receive a cost estimate before work commences. In many instances, customers can get same-day service. The typically two-person crew will also clean up after the junk is loaded.

To help meet the company’s goal of using landfills sparingly and being a good community partner—not to mention provide some goodwill marketing— Pennebaker says the company has forged partnerships with local nonprofit Quality Forward to donate time and trucks to haul away trash collected during various neighborhood and river cleanups, and is working with Charlotte Street Computers’ new recycling operation, www.ecycleme.com.

“We want to recycle as much as we can,” he says, noting that salvageable computers and components are donated to Ecycleme. The two partners are also planning various “e-cycling” events around Buncombe County. The recycled computers will be refurbished and donated to schools and groups in need of them.
For more information, check out www.1800gotjunk.com and www.777junk.com.

Goodwill hunting: Goodwill thrift stores, picked annually by Xpress readers as one of the best places to shop for clothes in the Asheville area, is opening a new store in south Asheville. The new location—at 51 Mills Gap Road—makes its debut on Thursday, Sept. 18, with a grand opening ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.
“This is our fourth store in Asheville and our ninth store in Western North Carolina,” says Jaymie Eichorn, director of marketing for Goodwill. Revenue generated from the sale of donated items funds career-development and training programs that help people find jobs and reach financial stability. In the Asheville area, Goodwill offers these programs at its Asheville Workforce Development Center at 1616 Patton Ave.

“We served over 22,000 people in the last year alone, but there are many more who need help getting back on their feet,” Eichorn says.

The south Asheville Goodwill store will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
Healthy munchies: Natural Nosh, LLC, a new WNC company that offers healthy alternatives to unhealthy snacks in the workplace, schools and retail establishments, is open for business. Owners Eddie Cotler and Josh Tager have partnered to provide vending machines that are stocked with treats that have no trans-fats, artificial colors or flavors and no chemical preservatives.

Natural Nosh vending machines can be customized to suit the tastes of those who use them, the owners say. Customers can choose from hundreds of products to stock their machines. The machines are currently installed at MAHEC, Hangar Hall School, Carolina Day School, the YWCA, Warren Wilson College and the Screen Door. For more information about how to install Natural Nosh healthy snacks in your place of business, school, or meeting place, contact Jane Anne Tager at 777-1907 or naturalnosh@gmail.com.
Minority biz help: The 26th annual Minority Enterprise Development Week, with the eye-catching title of The Power of Strategic Alliances in the Global Economy, will be held Sept. 22 to 26.

Events, which will be held at several Asheville venues, will focus on strategic partnering, collaboration and resources to compete in the global economy for minorities in the region. For more information, contact Brenda Mills at 232-4566 or bmills@ashevillenc.gov, or visit www.ashevillenc.gov.

SHARE

One thought on “Biz: The FedEx of trash

Leave a Reply