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January 23, 2004 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-01-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

34

Happenings

Sanitation
Engineer

This junk hauler has just gone state of the art.

Workers pick up job assign-
ments through Web-enabled cell
phone dispatches, issued from
"JunkNet" central command.
I is the Jewish junk peddler
come full circle. Capitalizing on Customers, if they wish, can
book their junk pick-ups online.
the material abundance of our
After the "morning wave," complete with blue wigs, are, front row, Jamil Thomas,
The company began in 1989
contemporary society, rather
partner
Jeff Lazar and Jared Wetherington and, back row, Bill Jack, Moshe Schrieber and
than peddling junk, a new company is when Brian Scudamore, a
partner
Jason Tink.
Vancouver high school drop out,
turning a profit by helping people get
spent
$700
for
an
old
truck
and
rid of it.
big on the clean bit, noting that trucks them," says Lazar of the feather cov-
started picking up junk. Scudamore is
1-800 Got Junk? is high-tech haul-
ered craft projects. "I have no clue
are washed daily, and workers will
now CEO of the $17.5 million busi-
ing, with Jeff Lazar of Oak Park get-
what
they were for. We opened the
often
change
shirts
and
wash
their
ness, with 75 franchises in the U.S.
ting in on the ground floor. The 29-
box
and
just cracked up."
boots
during
the
course
of
a
day's
and Canada.
year-old is a new franchise owner of
While
much of the junk gets
hauling.
"You
can't
go
into
someone's
Lazar, a former manager at One
the upstart business that's growing as
dumped,
Lazar recycles about 60 per-
home
looking
unprofessional,"
he
says.
Stop Kosher Supermarket in
fast as the clutter on your countertop.
cent. He donates a lot of the furniture
"This
is
not
a
dirty
business."
Southfield,
heard
about
1-800
Got
The company has carved out a niche
to the Furniture Bank in Pontiac, or to
Lazar and his men even sweep up
Junk? from a friend who knew a fran-
by professionalizing the junk industry.
local
synagogues or families. In time
after themselves.
chise owner in Philadelphia. Lazar was
The days of unkempt shleppers in
for
the
holidays, Lazar just brought
Got
Junk
will
take
anything
that
intrigued, did his research and bought
stained jeans and T-shirts driving beat
over
a
load
of toys to Healthy Start, an
two
people
can
lift
that
is
not
environ-
into the business, opening the first
up trucks are over.
organization
housed in the Jewish
mentally
hazardous.
Typical
hauls
franchise in Michigan in October.
Got Junk's friendly, punctual work-
Family Service building in Southfield.
include
old
appliances,
battered
furni-
"I'm
loving
it,"
he
says.
"It's
great
to
ers wear snappy blue uniforms (tucked
Some junk gets sold to scrapyards, a
ture and old exercise equipment.
be self-employed."
in) and drive freshly washed, bright
large
quantity goes to recycling centers
Prices range from $75 for one item to
Franchise startup fees were $18,000,
blue, late-model trucks. Lazar calls it
and
choice
plums get taken to antique
$408 for a whole truckload.
plus $9,000 for each 250,000- person
"the Fed-Ex of junk removal."
or
consignment
shops, or even sold on
Lazar
and
his
co-workers
do
a
lot
of
block of territory. The custom truck
e-Bay
(like
the
Batman
comic).
garage
and
basement
clean-outs,
pick-
cost $45,000, and there are royalty
Lazar's
mother,
Sema,
of Southfield,
ups
from
home
and
office
renovations,
and other fees to be paid to the parent
never dreamed her son would end up
and house clean-outs after people
company. Dumping fees vary with the
hauling people's junk. Nonetheless,
move or die.
amount hauled.
"I'm thrilled about it," she says. "It's
An awful lot of quirky discards get
Lazar has three employees and is
thrown into the mix. "You never know doing wonderfully, beyond our expec-
working hard at expanding the compa-
tations. Jeff is really giving it his all."
what
you'll find," says Lazar.
ny and gaining brand recognition for
Mimicking the business plan of
"We
just
picked
up
a
bunch
of
shag
the business. Every so often, he and his
CEO
Scudamore, Lazar has a "Vision
carpeting.
Remember
that?"
he
laughs.
workers put on blue clown wigs, park
Board"
on the wall in his home office.
The
company
has
picked
up
18,000
their truck on busy corners and get out
On it is written "2, 4, 8"— his goal to
cans of sardines (expired dates), ele-
to jump and wave at passers-by.
phant tusks and a half truckload of yo- make $200,000 this year, $400,000
They pass out "Junk Bucks" (dis-
next year and $800,000 in year three.
count coupons), do mailings and even yo strings (no yo-yos, just strings).
His objective is to have four trucks
Lazar says the "weird junk" keeps
wear their blue wigs to Detroit
in
three years, and ultimately, he says,
the
job
interesting.
He
recently
came
Pistons games, a tactic that certainly
"to
work on the business, not in it"—
across
a
vintage
Batman
comic
book
gets them noticed.
in
other
words, to keep the blue wig,
maga-
Life
and
LP
record,
the
1963
"Everyone's got junk; we just have to
but go white collar.
zine covering John F. Kennedy's assas-
let people know there's a way to get
Lazar thinks his goal is realistic. And
sination, and a box full of Styrofoam
rid of it," says Lazar.
the
occasional treasures he finds keep
chickens.
Jamil Thomas and Moshe Schrieber put
He speaks enthusiastically about the
it
interesting.
"There were about a hundred of
company's high service standards. He's
up an advertising sign.

SUSAN TAWIL,
Special to the Jewish News



1/23
2004

33

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