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
Jeff Lazar and Jared Wetherington and, back row, Bill Jack, Moshe Schrieber and
than peddling junk, a new company is when Brian Scudamore, a
Vancouver high school drop out,
turning a profit by helping people get
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-
they were for. We opened the
ness, with 75 franchises in the U.S.
ting in on the ground floor. The 29-
just cracked up."
year-old is a new franchise owner of
much of the junk gets
Lazar, a former manager at One
the upstart business that's growing as
Lazar recycles about 60 per-
Stop Kosher Supermarket in
fast as the clutter on your countertop.
cent. He donates a lot of the furniture
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.
synagogues or families. In time
chise owner in Philadelphia. Lazar was
The days of unkempt shleppers in
holidays, Lazar just brought
intrigued, did his research and bought
stained jeans and T-shirts driving beat
of toys to Healthy Start, an
into the business, opening the first
up trucks are over.
housed in the Jewish
franchise in Michigan in October.
Got Junk's friendly, punctual work-
Family Service building in Southfield.
ers wear snappy blue uniforms (tucked
Some junk gets sold to scrapyards, a
ture and old exercise equipment.
in) and drive freshly washed, bright
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
plums get taken to antique
$408 for a whole truckload.
plus $9,000 for each 250,000- person
"the Fed-Ex of junk removal."
shops, or even sold on
block of territory. The custom truck
cost $45,000, and there are royalty
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.
"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."
you'll find," says Lazar.
ny and gaining brand recognition for
Mimicking the business plan of
the business. Every so often, he and his
Scudamore, Lazar has a "Vision
workers put on blue clown wigs, park
on the wall in his home office.
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
three years, and ultimately, he says,
Pistons games, a tactic that certainly
work on the business, not in it"—
gets them noticed.
words, to keep the blue wig,
"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.
occasional treasures he finds keep
Jamil Thomas and Moshe Schrieber put
He speaks enthusiastically about the
"There were about a hundred of
company's high service standards. He's
up an advertising sign.
Special to the Jewish News