It turns out one person's trash really is another person's treasure. At least, that is the case for Brian Scudamore, who was able to build a multimillion dollar business out of hauling away other people's trash.
"We started with modest means," Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?and CEO of WOW-1DAY! Painting, said. "All we had when we started was $700 and a beat-up old pickup truck and we have grown into a $100 million business. The one thing I always take away is you don’t need a ton of money to go start something. You need an idea, a passion and the ability to attract and retain the right people."
Scudamore has used that simple equation not only to build a company, but to turn an industry on its ear by revolutionizing a traditionally fragmented industry.
"Before starting 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, junk removal featured a lot of mom-and-pop businesses, and people with beat up old pickup trucks, but now we created what we referred to in the early days as the FedEx of junk removal," Scudamore said. "Clean shiny trucks, friendly uniformed drivers, that kind of thing."
Scudamore is currently leveraging his 1-800-GOT-JUNK? experience as the CEO of 1-888-WOW-1DAY! Painting, a business that he hopes is able to grow even bigger. The journey, however, hasn't always been so smooth for Scudamore.
"In 1989, I was at a McDonald's drive-thru, of all places, and I was contemplating my future," Scudamore said. "I was wondering how I would fund my college education. In front of me was a beat-up old pickup truck with wood paneling built up on the sides and it said 'Mark's Hauling' on the side."
The light bulb went off for Scudamore. He took $700 of the $1,000 he had saved in the bank, bought a pickup, built wood paneling on the sides and started The Rubbish Boys, which changed its name to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? in 1998. One year from graduation, Scudamore dropped out of college officially to devote himself to his business fulltime.
"I was learning more on the streets working when I made the decision to drop out," Scudamore said. "It was really me saying, I am going to make this business grow and learn more about business in the process."
Scudamore's education in business continued when the company reached the $1 million mark in 1996. Through successful franchising efforts in the United States, Canada and Australia, 11 years later, the company hit the $100 million mark. The company now has 183 franchise locations in nearly every major metropolitan area in each of those countries.
Scudamore's involvement with 1-888-WOW-1DAY! Painting began after seeing the company in action. He was so impressed that he met with company founder Jim Bodden to discuss partnering up and franchising 1-888-WOW-1DAY! Painting. The companies first franchise opened in 2010 and today the company has 12 locations and projects revenues of $5 million for this year. The company plans to have 50 locations open by the end of the year and $100 million in revenue by 2016. Scudamore cites a simple reason for this optimism.Brian Scudamore Credit: 1-888-WOW-1DAY! Painting
"When I look at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? at $100 million, I see the potential of 1-888-WOW-1DAY! Painting to be even greater," Scudamore said. "When I look around, I don’t see a lot of junk in the world; it is hidden in basements and garages. You look around and you see walls inside and out that need to be painted and it is a massive opportunity."
Taking advantage of those opportunities depends on several factors, including having a good plan for your business, Scudamore said.
"I think that you need to really have a clear vision," Scudamore said. "You need to know what you are trying to build and for what reason. I think that lots of entrepreneurs go into business thinking they are going to make a lot of money. That is not a vision and that is not a powerful enough reason to start a business."
With a vision, businesses need to focus on getting the right people and talent in place for the company, he said.
"If you walk into our head office … you will see some quotes on the walls, the first one is 'it's all about people,'" Scudamore said. "My word of advice is never compromise on the quality of people that you bring into your organization. When I think of the times we have compromised on the people, it has always come to haunt us."
With a solid plan and the right people in place, other aspects of the business will start to fall in line.
"The money will come if you build a smart business, but you need to have the greater good in mind of taking care of customers," Scudamore said. "When you have the passion, put in the effort and are smart with money, your business will have a strong foundation."