by: Geoff Ficke

One Mans Junk Creates Another Mans Fortune - Similar Opportunities Exist Almost Everywhere for the Ambitious

In 1989 a Canadian college dropout named Brian Scudamore stopped at a McDonalds to grab a cheeseburger. While waiting for his food order he noticed a dented, beat up old pick-up truck inching though the parking lot. The bed of the vehicle was loaded with assorted junk. The doors of the battered, rusting vehicle were adorned with a hand painted sign that proclaimed that the owner hauled junk for a fee.

The food order came. But Brian Scudamore quickly lost his interest in lunch. He started to see a business opportunity in the cadaverous, misshapen lorry. Out of work, not a particularly interested student, just stumbling through life without much purpose, Mr. Scudamore was worried about his future prospects. The visit to a fast food restaurant, and the accidental visual encounter with a junk hauling service truck lit a fire in his imagination and suddenly he was full of energy and possibility.

Now here is where the story gets interesting. For here is where most people continue to dream. Brian Scudamore did something different, he acted. He thought to himself: “Who would have thought that there was money to be made in junk”. The more he considered the opportunity the more he realized that he had hit on a novel business model opportunity.

Everyone he knew had junk. Most of his family and acquaintances tried to hide the stuff away in attics, garages, storerooms. Mini-warehouses were being built everywhere and he knew that business was booming. He started asking people about their piles of old junk and found that people would get rid of the stuff if there was a way to do it conveniently, safely and affordably.

Mr. Scudamore bought an old, but clean used truck for $700. He had it neatly painted and a sign professionally designed and placed on the doors. He posted hand bills, placed business cards in businesses and supermarkets, advertised in the Yellow Pages (yes, they still had phone land lines and used phone books then) and quoted prices from a fixed list. When he made the first run to a customer he had invested less than $1,000 in the Business Start-up.

Customers were advised that each load would be separated and recyclable materials would be handled accordingly. Anything that still had value would be given to the poor. Most importantly for busy working people, his new junk hauling firm would schedule and maintain an accurate appointment schedule.

Brian Scudamore was his firm’s first junk hauler. But even in those early days, he was thinking long term. He never arrived for an appointment in jeans, sneakers and a torn tee-shirt. He always met his customers in a clean, identifiable uniform. He knew little about Branding and Marketing but he was already perfecting those essential Business practices.

The Company Brian Scudamore founded is known today as 1-800-Got Junk. This Entrepreneur has created a business model where there had been none. Yes, there were people everywhere that would pick up junk. However, no one had seen the opportunity to standardize, professionalize and fully commercialize the hauling of unwanted stuff and turn this innocuous service into a national enterprise.

1-800-Got Junk was quickly a success. More trucks were bought, crews added. Demand for the service outstripped the Company’s ability to expand. Because of his limited business and educational experience, Mr. Scudamore knew he needed professional management assistance to grow his Company. He hired Business Consultants that advised that his greatest growth opportunity was to organize the business using a Franchising Model.

Today there are hundreds of 1-800-Got Junk Franchise owners spread across almost every American and Canadian city. The service is standardized. Branding, Marketing, Service Sales, Customer Service, Advertising and Billing follows a classic Franchise model and is exactly the same for every Franchisee. Brian Scudamore has created a Business opportunity that supports each of his franchise owners, their families and employees. He not only is a successful Entrepreneur, he creates other successful Entrepreneurs. And he is very rich.

A used pickup truck, some tools, labor and hustle have earned many a man a decent living. Odd job services, painting, lawn care, hauling, pool cleaning, snow removal, tree pruning are only a few of the services that can be commercialized and generate income for those willing to Market themselves, be on time, sell a needed service for a fair price and perform as promised.

I know women who have taken their passion for baking, cooking, party planning, sewing, sketching, engraving, quilt making and pet care and turned these, and many more skills into income earning opportunities. They often start small and locally. They are willing to Market their product, service and themselves.

Very few of these Entrepreneurs will see their work evolve into large enterprises like Brian Scudamore’s 1-800-Got Junk. But they have the satisfaction of getting up every day and knowing that they control their destiny and there are no imposed limits on their ability to prosper and achieve as much success as they are willing to work for.

Every media outlet today beats a constant whine about the lack of jobs and opportunity. And it is true that the traditional job models have been creatively imploded by globalization, technology and rapid changes in skill requirements in order to succeed in this new emerging world order. But the pundits are wrong that opportunity is limited, or as some claim, eliminated. It is simply to be found using fresh outlook and ambition.

Unfortunately for many, ambition has been eroded from being coddled by an entitlement mindset. We do not allow children to fail, or lose a contest. Everybody is a winner. We all get a prize or a medal whether the reward is deserved or not. It starts at the youngest ages and encases too many for the rest of their lives.

The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are currently spreading around the world. Brian Scudamore was an unemployed, under-educated, scared kid in 1989. He probably fit the mold of the present day protesters. He could have sulked, complained, blamed or whined! Would the world have been a better place if he had become a professional dissident instead of creating wealth and opportunity for himself and others? We all know the answer to that question. The “Occupy Wall Street” crowd knows too. Someday most will acknowledge the truth, if they stumble onto a dose of ambition.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.