business

Small-Business Success Story: The Junkluggers

His company profits by picking up your castoffs and donating or recycling them.

Kiplinger's spoke with Josh Cohen (pictured above), 34, the founder and CEO of the Stamford, Conn.-based company The Junkluggers, about how he got his junk removal business up and running. Here's an excerpt from our interview:

How did you finance your start-up? I was young, didn’t have a lot of expenses and lived in my parents’ basement for the first couple of years. I bought a used pickup truck with a custom dump body on the back for $3,000 with savings from hauling junk and some leftover bar mitzvah money. I just kept reinvesting the money I made into the business, and I still do that.

How have you grown? In our first year, we had one part-time employee and me, and we did $80,000 in sales. In 2016, including our franchisees, we did $8.1 million in sales with 140 employees and 48 trucks in nine states. This year, we expect sales of $10 million to $11 million and 20 to 30 more jobs.

You’re franchised? Early on, I decided that I wanted to expand the business nationally, and we began franchising in 2013. We grow with people who are entrenched in their com­munities and have skin in the game. We have 12 franchise partners and hope to add 100 more by 2024. The start-up cost for one location is $90,000 to $150,000. Helping our franchisees get into business for themselves is really rewarding, especially because it’s meant so much to me.

Self-employment is a family tradition? Yes. One of my grandfathers owned a restaurant. My other grand­father owned a toy store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My dad still owns an accounting firm that he started when he was in his twenties. My brother operates one of our franchises. My brother-in-law quit his job last year to focus on our new furniture-restoration business. His quality of life is so much better here than sitting behind a desk working for a large corporation.

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