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1-800-Got Junk comes to Greater Sudbury.

Junk removal may be their game, but don't refer to the workers at Northern Ontario's first 1-800-GOT-JUNK franchise as garbagemen. "We're a solution to a problem of clutter and space re-acquisition," says Gord Ouimet, franchise partner. "When our crews show up at a home or business to do a clean-up, all the client has to do is point and pay the fee. We make sure that the space that was occupied by the debris before is ready to be used again immediately, which sometimes means raking outside or sweeping indoor floors, and your garbageman won't do that."

As the only Ontario franchisee north of Barrie, Ouimet and his two employees have been specializing in collecting unwanted items and material within the Greater Sudbury area since the company took root in the area in early September.

With a pair of blue-and-white trucks which feature 400 cubic feet of space and a 3,200-pound capacity, Ouimet's prices for removal start as low as $100, and reach as high as $500 for larger-scale jobs, which thus far have been evenly split between residential and commercial customers. Acceptable items for collection include nearly anything that can fit into the vehicle, from old vinyl records to furniture to discarded tires, though certain categories are excluded, such as toxic solvents, wet paint and asbestos.

Most items collected by the company are carted away to landfills, though this isn't necessarily automatic, as specific items can be sent away for recycling or even to charity should the customer request it.

The idea to establish a franchise in the North first struck Ouimet a year ago, when he read an article on the company's founder who created 1-800-GOT-JUNK as a summer business while at a university in British Columbia. Seven years later, there are 276 franchises across North America, with additional outlets across the world, including the United Kingdom and Australia. Ouimet was further impressed with the streamlined system; call the company's titular number at any hour of the day to book a time for collection or for an on-site estimate, and the franchisee will be made aware of the relevant information within minutes.

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"This business has worked everywhere that it has been tried," he says. "Why not try it in Northern Ontario?"

While Ouimet and his pair of trucks are primarily servicing the Sudbury area, his business plan involves expanding across Northern Ontario. North Bay will officially be included in his coverage area by November, with further expansion to Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins as he boosts his fleet to six or seven trucks within the next year. The Muskoka area was also slated to be included in the eventual future, but regional awareness of the widespread service has forced him to accelerate the plan.

"Many of the people who spend time there are from Toronto, where the 1-800-GOT-JUNK service is already available," says Ouimet. "So we're already getting a lot of calls to go down and clean out people's cottages and so on."

The initial phase of this Northern Ontario franchise has not been without its challenges, as some Sudburians have been somewhat reluctant to consider paying for someone to drag away their junk, though Ouimet attributes this to the typical adjustment period involved in a new type of local service.

However, he says this perception should change as local awareness of the service grows, partially through advertising campaigns mounted by the company's head office, but also through a grassroots effort conducted by Ouimet and his crew.

Part of this effort includes merely driving around town, as the company's prominently labeled trucks are viewed as moving billboards which are then parked in highly visible areas.

Franchisee owners such as Ouimet are also expected to reach out to the community, be it through participation in local events or even just traveling around town and stopping to greet people in their driveways or on the side of the road.

In order to more effectively attract attention, Ouimet and his employees are expected to wear blue wigs to match their similarly coloured trucks as they perform their random meet-and-greets, casting themselves as what he refers to as a sort of folk hero of junk removal.

"We show up, like Zorro, and then we're gone," he says. "It's all about bringing attention to the business at a handshake level."

www.request.1800GotJunk.com

By NICK STEWART

Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2006 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:SPECIAL REPORT: SUDBURY
Author:Stewart, Nick
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:730
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