The genius ofjunk
proves that one
man’s junk is an
By Stephanie E. Ponder
AT 1;800;GOT;JUNK?, the writing is on
the wall. Painted near the main entrance are
the company’s plans for the next two years.
The overarching goal: build a globally
To get there, Brian Scudamore, the company’s founder and CEO, has assembled a
team of employees who share his enthusiasm
for being the name in junk removal.
Scudamore (pronounced Skoo-da-more)
started the business as a 17-year-old high
school dropout. Twenty-one years later, it is a
chain with 31 franchise locations in Canada,
183 in the U.S. and four in Australia. He’s
achieved success through an unfaltering vision
of his company and faith in his employees.
“Nobody has ever built a brand in this
industry,” says Scudamore, a Costco member.
;at is, not until now.
22 ;e Costco Connection NOVEMBER 2009
;e idea behind the business is simple.
Everyone has junk. What they don’t have is
the time or resources to remove it. 1-800-GOT-
JUNK? does the dirty work for them.
Scudamore bought his first truck for
$700 in 1989 and started ;e Rubbish Boys
in Vancouver, British Columbia, as a way to
pay for university (which he had talked his
way into). ;e inspiration came to Scudamore
one day when he saw a hauling business’s
beat-up pickup truck ;lled with junk drive by.
He thought, “;ere’s my ticket.”
1-800-GOT-JUNK? founder, Brian Scudamore, and president, Launi Skinner, have a plan to keep the company growing.
For more than three years he balanced
classes and work. “I was being asked by my
professors to speak about my business,”
Scudamore tells ;e Connection. “I was making money, and I had a great team of people.”
;e young entrepreneur found himself so
busy answering his cell phone during classes
that, with only a semester left, he again
dropped out of school.
The business continued at a slow but
steady pace for the next few years until 1998,
when Scudamore made two important moves.
First, he changed the company’s name to
1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a catchier name that better described the business. Second, he spent
time at a one-man retreat at his parents’ cabin
on Bowen Island, British Columbia, where he
visualized the future of the business. He drew
up a two-page document outlining his vision
of how the company would feel, look and act.
“I envisioned us creating … a company
built on passion, integrity, professionalism
and empathy,” explains Scudamore. “A place
where people could find great meaning
through what we were all creating. A place
where we could build something bigger than
any one of us could ever have created alone.”
Motivated by that vision, the ;rst franchise
opened in Toronto in 1999. Between 1999 and
2002, another 23 franchise locations opened.
A;er that, business exploded, with the United
States and Canada now nearly saturated as far
as franchise opportunities are concerned.
Slightly more than a business
Anyone passing the reception desk at
1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s Vancouver corporate
offices, better known as the Junktion, is
greeted by one of Scudamore’s favorite expressions, also painted on the wall: “It’s all about
people.” To him, that means everyone from
the employees at the Junktion to the people
on the trucks.
Scudamore, 39, believes employees cannot be motivated. “All you can do is inspire
people and empower them with the right
tools,” he says. “You have to ;nd those who
are already motivated.”
For example, potential franchise partners
go through a multi-step application process to
make sure they are a good ;t. ;at holds true
for everyone involved with the company. “You
can measure a company in the quality of people,” says Scudamore. “You never just need a
body. You need a personality.”
Several employees hurry through the
Junktion wearing blue 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
vests and jackets. With the company’s bright
blue logo, clean trucks and uniformed drivers,
Scudamore works to make sure the business
makes a positive and professional impression.
“Yes, we’re in the junk-removal business,
but we’re of the highest order,” he says.
Transition for future growth
Scudamore says the hardest lesson he’s
had to learn is the importance of having the