Founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? dropped out of faculty to haul junk — now, he is eyeing a billion-dollar enterprise

Inspiration can strike at any second. For Brian Scudamore, the 50-year-old multimillionaire founder of junk-hauling firm 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, that “Eureka!” second simply occurred to return with a aspect of fries.

In 1989, Scudamore was a 19-year-old highschool dropout who nonetheless had his eye on a university diploma and was looking out for a side-hustle that would finance his training. One day, whereas ready within the drive-through lane of a Vancouver McDonald’s, Scudamore spied an outdated, beat-up pickup truck with an indication promoting Mark’s Hauling, a trash elimination firm.

“I can do this,” Scudamore thought, he tells CNBC Make It.

Within every week, Scudamore had put his complete life-savings — about $1,000 — into beginning his personal junk-hauling service, which he initially known as The Rubbish Boys (despite the fact that the enterprise was then a one-man operation — “I needed it to sound larger,” he says.)

“I spent $700 on an outdated Ford F-100 and the remaining on fliers and enterprise playing cards,” Scudamore says. 

Within the primary “couple of weeks,” Scudamore says he was in a position to break even. And in his first yr in enterprise, Scudamore says he made a revenue of about $1,700, which he used to cowl his faculty tuition.

Since then, The Rubbish Boys grew as much as develop into 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a $300 million enterprise that is the primary a part of a much bigger household of manufacturers launched by Scudamore. The firm operates junk-removal franchises in roughly 160 places within the U.S., Canada and Australia beneath the umbrella of Scudamore’s O2E Brands, which he says is “a half-a-billion-dollar enterprise” in Canadian {dollars} — or about $368 million in U.S. {dollars}. The guardian firm additionally now contains house-painting firm WOW 1 Day Painting and home-detailing enterprise Shack Shine, which Scudamore based in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

“O2E Brands, by the way in which, stands for ‘Ordinary to Exceptional,'” Scudamore says. “We’re taking strange companies like junk elimination or portray and making them distinctive by way of buyer expertise.”

Of course, as a youngster ready for his McDonald’s order, Scudamore wasn’t anticipating to have a life-changing enterprise thought. He simply needed a method to make some further money. 

“Did I do know that day that this is able to be one thing a lot larger than only a method to pay for school? No,” Scudamore says. “But I knew that if I picked one thing and I dedicated and caught with it, the fervour for constructing a enterprise would quickly comply with.”

“Sometimes it is simply taking that step and getting on the market and doing one thing.”

Getting began

Scudamore says he was a “troublemaker” in highschool, who dropped out with simply an algebra class remaining. “I used to be usually skipping courses, after which I fell very far behind,” he says.

Still, most of his associates had been headed for school and Scudamore did not need to be neglected. 

Scudamore says his dad and mom “thought I used to be loopy to not end highschool.” In truth, his father — a liver transplant surgeon in Vancouver — was so dissatisfied in Scudamore for dropping out of highschool that he informed his son he must pay his personal manner by way of faculty.

That supplied the impetus for Scudamore to begin his personal side-hustle, and he managed to draw his earliest shoppers by putting labeled advertisements in native newspapers that touted, “primarily, a man with a truck keen to haul junk.”

“It was simply, ‘The Rubbish Boys will stash your trash in a flash,’ was the slogan,” Scudamore says. “I had telephone calls the primary day I ran my advertisements and I had three jobs the primary day. Things began to construct [from there].”

Aside from bringing in his personal shoppers, one of many earliest enterprise classes Scudamore needed to study on the fly was methods to successfully worth his providers. 

At first, Scudamore regarded to the classifieds part of the newspaper to see how a lot his opponents had been charging prospects, so he may comply with swimsuit. “They had been wherever from between $80 and $120 a truckload,” he says of his opponents on the time. “I made a decision to go in on the low finish as a result of I used to be the brand new competitor and we charged 80 bucks.”

However, whereas Scudamore was in a position to shortly break even on his preliminary $1,000 funding, he additionally realized he’d have to cost extra with a view to flip a revenue and finally begin hiring staff to develop the enterprise. He slowly began rising his charges.

Two years after beginning The Rubbish Boys, Scudamore was again in Vancouver after transferring from Concordia University to the University of British Columbia, the place he was learning enterprise. His girlfriend on the time instructed he drum up extra shoppers by pitching the story of his profitable side-hustle to the press.

“I known as the Vancouver Province, our largest newspaper,” Scudamore says. He informed them how he’d eschewed getting a summer season job and bootstrapped his personal junk-hauling enterprise.

“We had been on the entrance web page of the newspaper the following day,” he says. “It will need to have been a gradual information day, however there was our truck, the telephone quantity emblazoned on the aspect. We had 100 telephone calls throughout the first 24 hours [after the story ran]. A variety of jobs.”

What’s extra, when the front-page newspaper story got here out, the article mistakenly printed his charges as $136 per truckload of junk despite the fact that the enterprise was charging $120 on the time. 

“I assumed, ‘Oh no…nobody’s going to make use of us.’ [Instead], everybody known as they usually had been fantastic with 136 bucks a load. So I realized over time that I may begin to improve my charges. What I’ve seen is the most costly customer support companies on the market are those who’re in a position to do a fantastic job.”

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, in faculty


With his enterprise persevering with to develop, Scudamore realized that he a lot most well-liked the hands-on training of working his personal enterprise to studying about it at school.

“I used to be learning enterprise and there I used to be studying extra working a enterprise than I used to be learning textbooks,” Scudamore says. He remembers being requested by certainly one of his favourite enterprise professors to function a visitor lecturer throughout a category.

“It made me notice that ‘I’m really instructing the category right here. And, whereas I had enjoyable, … [I was] studying extra out on the streets.”

So after three years of faculty, Scudamore made the choice to drop out of college … once more.

“My dad thought I’d completely misplaced it — that his oldest son was dropping out of faculty to develop into a full time junkman. But actually he is onside with the place issues went immediately.” 

The first million {dollars}

Scudamore’s junk-hauling enterprise took eight years earlier than it hit $1 million in annual income, which he admits “sounds extremely gradual.” But Scudamore says he used that point to “learn to systematize the enterprise and get it prepared for franchising,” which is to say he needed to work out among the kinks that he feels saved the enterprise from reaching its potential.

One of the hardest choices that Scudamore says he needed to make with a view to flip his faculty side-hustle into the multimillion-dollar operation it’s immediately got here only a few years in. In 1994, Scudamore’s The Rubbish Boys owned 5 vehicles, employed 11 folks and was bringing in about $500,000 in annual income.

“I spotted I wasn’t having enjoyable any longer,” Scudamore says. The motive, he provides, was as a result of most of his 11 staff frequently complained to him about practically each side of their work and simply typically appeared sad with their jobs. 

“I made a decision to fireplace your complete staff and begin once more,” Scudamore says.

“I mentioned, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’ve allow you to down as a pacesetter.’ I may not have discovered the correct folks or educated them proper. Given them the love and assist they wanted to achieve success,” Scudamore says.

Scudamore was quickly again to a one-man operation, which meant hauling and driving junk by himself whereas additionally recruiting staff. Scudamore has mentioned it took him roughly six months to totally rebuild the corporate whereas additionally rebranding.

Scudamore realized he wanted “clear minimize, pleasant professionals … to revolutionize a really soiled business.” 

He started hiring staff who got here to work with optimistic attitudes and who he would need to spend time with himself — folks he now describes as “optimists who will see issues as alternatives versus simply challenges that they should struggle by way of,” Scudamore says. Many of his new hires had been youthful folks working their manner by way of faculty, identical to he had been when he began the enterprise. 

In rebuilding the corporate, Scudamore renamed it 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, as a result of he needed one thing catchy with easy-to-remember contact data. 

Today, “with all of our franchise companions, the No. 1 factor we inform them is: Hire glad folks. If you rent glad folks, the remaining simply falls into place,” he says.

The subsequent step

The rebuilding and rebranding of his enterprise not solely made Scudamore happier to go to work day by day, nevertheless it additionally helped the corporate develop. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? reached $1 million in annual income by 1997, at which level Scudamore says he lastly realized simply how huge his enterprise may develop into.

That yr, Scudamore says: “I set a painted image, a imaginative and prescient, of what the enterprise may appear to be sooner or later.”

That imaginative and prescient included increasing 1-800-GOT-JUNK? into the top-30 metro areas in North America, reaching $100 million in annual income and getting on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which Scudamore calls “the mom of all media hits.”

In order to realize these targets, Scudamore as soon as once more turned to McDonald’s for inspiration. Scudamore liked the concept McDonald’s grew its model by way of franchising its eating places, giving every of its franchise house owners “pores and skin within the sport,” he says.

“I needed to do the identical factor with junk elimination,” he says. “We mentioned we might be the FedEx of junk elimination [with] clear, shiny vehicles, pleasant uniformed drivers.”

Scudamore’s first franchise accomplice, Paul Guy, “did $1 million in income in his first full calendar yr,” Scudamore says of Guy, who he saus now owns a number of franchises that usher in a complete of roughly $60 million yearly. “That’s once I knew that the franchise mannequin was one that might scale.”

Between 2003 and 2006, Scudamore’s firm attained all three of the formidable targets he’d specified by his imaginative and prescient in 1997, beginning with a 2003 look on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” wherein the present enlisted Scudamore’s staff to wash out the home of a hoarder.

“Today, we do $1 million [from] 1-800-Got-Junk? alone on any given day,” Scudamore says.

Meanwhile, his visions for the way forward for his firm have solely gotten grander, as Scudamore says he photos O2E Brands finally turning into a multibillion-dollar empire between the three franchised manufacturers.

But even with these grand ambitions Scudamore nonetheless describes himself as “only a man having enjoyable each single day.”

Scudamore, who CNBC beforehand featured as a “Blue Collar Millionaire,” lives in Vancouver together with his spouse and three children, and although they’ve a second dwelling in Whistler, British Columbia (a city identified for its luxurious ski resorts), he says he has bother even considering of himself as a millionaire.  

“I’m only a man,” he says. “I drive just a little Toyota pickup truck. I’m all the time carrying denims and a t-shirt.”

Scudamore says he is by no means actually been all that motivated by creating wealth himself. “It’s all about seeing folks throughout the enterprise develop alternatives and watching issues get larger and higher,” he says.

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